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General Discussion => Welcome and General Discussion => Topic started by: Bloop Bloop on June 24, 2020, 02:17:44 AM

Title: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Bloop Bloop on June 24, 2020, 02:17:44 AM
I thought it would be fun to have a contrarian topic

I'll start.
- I don't like the concept of being overly judgmental about others' purchases. E.g. "clown cars." I think it should suffice to say that you should only buy what truly gives you value and leave it at that. MMM can be a little parochial/evangelical in this regard. You can think that someone else's purchase is unlikely to be financially wise without getting super judgmental about it.

- I don't like the term "FU Money". Again, it seems to be seeking conflict where there may not be any. I approve of the concept of knowing your value and just leaving if you're not getting paid it, but you can leave a company on perfectly good terms even if the company isn't being great to you (in fact learning not to burn bridges is part of adult life), and therefore the "FU" part in it again, seems needlessly aggressive. Even the idea of saying "FU" to your company when you finally hit FIRE is something that I don't find appealing because I see work and FIRE as a journey not a destination, so you should not be letting things get to the "FU" stage. (Or seeing your boss as an adversary.)

I know you don't get hits without being memorable in a way but I think those parts of the philosophy can cause an "us vs them" approach that isn't really needed.

How about you?
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Monkey Uncle on June 24, 2020, 05:41:37 AM
I think there's a certain theatrical aspect to what MMM does. So I don't have a problem with the whole facepunch/clown car schtick. He's only doing that to people who complain about not being able to save money while they're spending on unnecessary stuff without really examining the consequences  of their choices. It's not like he would actually use that kind of tone in a face to face conversation.

I do sometimes take issue with some of the unrealistic solutions that the super frugal mentality inspires. Like using terrible fly by night MVNO phone providers, or towing with a Toyota Corolla.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Much Fishing to Do on June 24, 2020, 06:07:44 AM
I think there's a certain theatrical aspect to what MMM does.

Yeah, I think of it kind of like a pep rally in ways.  Given he's preaching to the choir on this forum I think the clown car speeches get a lot of nods, kinda a "yeah, I used to do that but hopefully I'm smarter now" to a current examination like a "that $120 I spent for us to eat out last night wasn't really worth it when I could have grilled some burgers instead and had a lot more fun".  I definitely don't have a FU situation with work (except for the occasional client of course) as who I report to and who reports to me are some of the people I care about the most in the world...but there is definitely an "F This" as far as spending so much of your life working instead of doing other things with what years that are left.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: NorthernMonkey on June 24, 2020, 06:28:57 AM
I do sometimes take issue with some of the unrealistic solutions that the super frugal mentality inspires. Like using terrible fly by night MVNO phone providers, or towing with a Toyota Corolla.

Why wouldn't you tow with a Corolla. As long as you're only pulling 1/2 a ton it wont be an issue. In the UK no one would blink at a corolla pulling a small trailer.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: chemistk on June 24, 2020, 06:31:31 AM
One of the things I missed the most when I read through the blog from start to finish a few years ago was the case studies. It was nice to hear an illustration of a life other than Pete's, even if it was just Pete going through that person's finances and lifestyle with a fine-toothed comb and applying his particular perspective onto it.

I think the thing that began to irk me with the blog was that for a couple years especially, Pete crafted this persona and sold it as the best way to live frugally. I have 3 kids and I love them all dearly (even if they drive my wife and I mad) and without explicitly saying it, Pete definitely made it apparent that he felt one, maybe two kids was the only way to live a life. You also shouldn't have pets.

I know, if you read between the lines, that he was highlighting the aspects of his life that were most 'on-brand' and carefully turning the spotlight away from other parts that were not as easy to write about as a FIRE blogger. I think it had to be done but it made things a bit worse in my eyes. As evidenced by these forums (although I've heard the OG members who have long since left would disagree), there's a ton of different ways to live frugally that enable one to achieve FIRE. You absolutely can FIRE with more than one kid, or with pets, or in a HCOL area, or while owning expensive 'clown cars'.

That's why I liked the case studies - it was really only after I finished the blog that I started poking around here, so for me the case studies were the strongest examples of others who were interested/on track to FIRE that didn't necessarily fall into Pete's mold.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Monkey Uncle on June 24, 2020, 06:44:51 AM
I do sometimes take issue with some of the unrealistic solutions that the super frugal mentality inspires. Like using terrible fly by night MVNO phone providers, or towing with a Toyota Corolla.

Why wouldn't you tow with a Corolla. As long as you're only pulling 1/2 a ton it wont be an issue. In the UK no one would blink at a corolla pulling a small trailer.

Toyota may claim a 1,500 lb towing capacity for a 2010 Corolla (typical age range for a mustachian car), and you might be o.k. doing that once in a while for short distances.  But the car is not designed to be a tow vehicle.  If you regularly tow something that is near the capacity rating, you will be shortening the life of the transmission, engine, and brakes, not to mention negating much of the gas mileage benefit of owning a small car.  And towing at the rated capacity creates safety issues related to handling and stopping distance.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Louisville on June 24, 2020, 06:46:07 AM
I can't remember exact instances, and I'm not going to try to find them, but I recall taking issue with some of MMM's comments on diet and exercise. I think he may have a bit of Dunning-Krueger going on that front. No biggie.
Overall, seems to me the MMM philosophy is based on classic Stoicism, which I appreciate.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: CopperTex on June 24, 2020, 06:46:44 AM
What bothers me is the doctoring of the books to bury personal expenses under business expenses thereby making your personal expenses look lower than reality. I'm also bothered by the promotion of not having home insurance or visiting the dentist.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Cpa Cat on June 24, 2020, 06:46:58 AM
In his Jan 27 blog post, he says he neither has home owner's insurance nor health insurance. His reasoning: insurance is for suckas who don't understand statistics (not a direct quote).

This is a direct quote though: "I also still like the old-school advice of ďdonít buy stuff that you canít afford to lose, and take really good care of the stuff that you do have.Ē"

So if you take care of your house, a tornado won't hit it. But if it does, and you care, then it's because you bought a house you couldn't afford to lose. Statistically, it may be unlikely that your house burns down or a tornado hits it, but it happens to people every single year. And for most people trying to FIRE, they aren't budgeting in "burned down house and no insurance to replace it." That would be financially ruinous for most people.

On the health side, he says he works out anywhere between 1-8 hours a day and eats healthy, so he's never had a health problem. He also credits genetics. But we all know that healthy living and genetics don't stop you from having a bike accident when you bike everywhere, right? And for most people, salads and barbells are not going to stop them from getting cancer. Being generally healthy and having no insurance does tend to make people skip annual visits to the doctor to check for sneaky underlying conditions that are not immediately obvious, though. In any case, when a hospital stay in the USA can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and a cancer diagnosis can cost millions, most FIRE'ing individuals can't really risk being uninsured.

But his underlying message is that if they get sick, it's because they didn't take good enough care of themselves.

I had a friend who was hospitalized with COVID and their pre insurance bills were in the six figures. MMM doesn't care about COVID (March 3 blog post) or health insurance, because he thinks it's statistically unlikely that he's going to be affected by it.

I feel like his huge wealth has caused him to lose touch with real humans and start taking on risks that are clearly inappropriate for 99% of the population, and potentially devastating to his actual followers, who are trying to retire early on a fixed budget.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: OtherJen on June 24, 2020, 06:51:41 AM
In his Jan 27 blog post, he says he neither has home owner's insurance nor health insurance. His reasoning: insurance is for suckas who don't understand statistics (not a direct quote).

This is a direct quote though: "I also still like the old-school advice of ďdonít buy stuff that you canít afford to lose, and take really good care of the stuff that you do have.Ē"

So if you take care of your house, a tornado won't hit it. But if it does, and you care, then it's because you bought a house you couldn't afford to lose. Statistically, it may be unlikely that your house burns down or a tornado hits it, but it happens to people every single year. And for most people trying to FIRE, they aren't budgeting in "burned down house and no insurance to replace it." That would be financially ruinous for most people.

On the health side, he says he works out anywhere between 1-8 hours a day and eats healthy, so he's never had a health problem. He also credits genetics. But we all know that healthy living and genetics don't stop you from having a bike accident when you bike everywhere, right? And for most people, salads and barbells are not going to stop them from getting cancer. Being generally healthy and having no insurance does tend to make people skip annual visits to the doctor to check for sneaky underlying conditions that are not immediately obvious, though. In any case, when a hospital stay in the USA can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and a cancer diagnosis can cost millions, most FIRE'ing individuals can't really risk being uninsured.

But his underlying message is that if they get sick, it's because they didn't take good enough care of themselves.

I had a friend who was hospitalized with COVID and their pre insurance bills were in the six figures. MMM doesn't care about COVID (March 3 blog post) or health insurance, because he thinks it's statistically unlikely that he's going to be affected by it.

I feel like his huge wealth has caused him to lose touch with real humans and start taking on risks that are clearly inappropriate for 99% of the population, and potentially devastating to his actual followers, who are trying to retire early on a fixed budget.

Yeah, that was a bridge too far for me. I could overlook the ďclown carĒ and ďconsumer sukkaĒ stuff, but advocating no insurance in the USA is downright irresponsible.
Title: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: the_fixer on June 24, 2020, 07:01:06 AM
I think there is a difference between disagreeing with what he is saying and making a personal choice to do something differently.

Letís use the car example, it would be hard to disagree that buying a clown car is rarely the smart economic choice and that using said clown car to make unnecessary trips is not only bad economically but also bad for the environment.

He is still right, you have just made the personal choice to do something different.

Much like smoking, pretty much all smokers know it is bad for them yet they keep smoking.

You can apply that to much of what we as humans do that is bad for us or the environment and it does not change the fact that the information is correct we just choose to ignore it to satisfy our own pleasure or desires.

(Edit to add about the only thing I question is how he goes about insurance I choose to carry it as the US is crazy when it comes to hospital bills)


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: slappy on June 24, 2020, 07:16:22 AM
I thought it would be fun to have a contrarian topic

I'll start.
- I don't like the concept of being overly judgmental about others' purchases. E.g. "clown cars." I think it should suffice to say that you should only buy what truly gives you value and leave it at that. MMM can be a little parochial/evangelical in this regard. You can think that someone else's purchase is unlikely to be financially wise without getting super judgmental about it.

- I don't like the term "FU Money". Again, it seems to be seeking conflict where there may not be any. I approve of the concept of knowing your value and just leaving if you're not getting paid it, but you can leave a company on perfectly good terms even if the company isn't being great to you (in fact learning not to burn bridges is part of adult life), and therefore the "FU" part in it again, seems needlessly aggressive. Even the idea of saying "FU" to your company when you finally hit FIRE is something that I don't find appealing because I see work and FIRE as a journey not a destination, so you should not be letting things get to the "FU" stage. (Or seeing your boss as an adversary.)

I know you don't get hits without being memorable in a way but I think those parts of the philosophy can cause an "us vs them" approach that isn't really needed.

How about you?

I don't think either of these things are specific to MMM. I think they are part of the PF/FIRE community in general. I don't have an issue with FU money, but I think it's generally geared toward an actual FU situation. The situation you are describing is a bit different, and it think the "emergency fund" term applies more closely for that. The judgement about others spending has definitely always annoyed me. Not enough that I don't partake on occasion though. haha

For me, the takeaway from MMM has always been to ask why and think a little more critically about decisions. For example, my SIL needed a vehicle. Did she need a brand new, three row SUV? Probably not. But that's the image that is important to her, I guess. We have a truck that we inherited from DHs dad. It's an old truck, and it costs over $1000 every year for repairs. I have told my husband we could rent a pick up ten times over for the amount we pay in repairs on this thing. He understands the financial implications, but he would rather have the truck available at his convenience and not have to deal with the inconvenience of having to rent a truck when he needs/wants one. It drives me crazy, but at least he has considered it and is aware of the implications. I feel like in general, people just say "I need x for x reason" and don't think about any other options or the overall financial implications. MMM would certainly face punch us for keeping this truck!

Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Peachtea on June 24, 2020, 07:22:04 AM
- I don't like the term "FU Money". Again, it seems to be seeking conflict where there may not be any. I approve of the concept of knowing your value and just leaving if you're not getting paid it, but you can leave a company on perfectly good terms even if the company isn't being great to you (in fact learning not to burn bridges is part of adult life), and therefore the "FU" part in it again, seems needlessly aggressive. Even the idea of saying "FU" to your company when you finally hit FIRE is something that I don't find appealing because I see work and FIRE as a journey not a destination, so you should not be letting things get to the "FU" stage. (Or seeing your boss as an adversary.)

I LOVE the term FU Money. It doesnít prevent you or encourage you from leaving jobs on bad terms. Who would advise someone to actually say FU on their way out? To me itís empowering. Emergency fund implies that pile is just for layoffs, being fired, unexpected medical etc. Essentially a reaction to unanticipated things that just happened. But FU fund gives you permission to walk away from bad situations, that you have a choice to say FU to the situation and walk away.

In HS I worked as a busser at the local restaurant to save for a school trip I wanted take. It was pretty awful. We werenít given breaks, cooks rated wait staff on their ďfuckability,Ē customers thought (intentionally) blowing smoke directly in my face was funny, and a manager thought it was hilarious to give me and a coworker a toothbrushes to polish the bathroom wood paneling. (In case itís not obvious, this was not a situation where toothbrush was the best tool for the job and it was meant to be a power trip/degrading experience.) When I reached the amount I needed to finish paying for the trip + have some extra savings, I put in my two weeks. Manager tried to convince me to stay. No, thanks. Then told me if I ever changed my mind to come back. Sure thing. That was my baby FU fund before I even knew what it was. I waited a long time, just picking up random babysitting jobs, until I found another ďrealĒ part-time in my rural area. No way was I going back there.

Iím lucky that since then Iíve had mostly good experiences, especially as an adult where the consequences of not having a FU fund are more dire than not having gas money to do things with your friends. But in my field I see a lot of the crazy work environments people end up in - in both white and blue collar jobs. I frequently find myself thinking if this person had an FU fund, now would be a good time to use it.

I guess my point is, itís great if youíve never been in a really confrontational work environment or other environment where a FU fund can be your life line. But thatís not the reality for many people and these kinds of confrontations are not the same as not being paid as much as you want or mere personality conflicts that you can ďpreventĒ from getting to the FU stage. So many people stay in really horrible situations because they donít feel they a viable choice in walking away. And so many people also assume that they will never be in this situation until they have a very rude awakening.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Laura33 on June 24, 2020, 07:23:34 AM
Hahahahaha.  Given that I continue to be surprised y'all haven't kicked me off the island yet, my particular list could go on forever.  The StupidCar is the obvious thing.

I am also not super fixated on the RE part of FIRE.  Pete seems to have a very, very strong aversion to working for anyone and to ceding authority to anyone else over how he spends any of his time. I just don't have that; in fact, I'm much more productive when I have clear goals to meet and clear deadlines to force me to kick my ass into gear -- and I'm also happier when I'm productive.  I like my job; I like the intellectual challenge it provides, and it's not something I can really do on my own once I quit.  Same with my DH -- he does advanced tech and gets to play with multi-million-dollar toys every day while he works to create things that don't currently exist.  While he gets annoyed by the office politics stuff, stepping away from the job also means giving up the best playground and the best games he has ever had.  I absolutely love the power that comes from being FI, but RE isn't as much a driver.

And on the flip side, I don't get jazzed about construction projects and figuring out DIY to the same degree Pete does.  I am completely on board with the idea of challenging yourself, doing stuff the hard way sometimes specifically because it's hard, learning new skills, and all of that.  I just really have no desire to have those kinds of projects be all day, every day.  It's fun to putter because you want to; it's less fun when you have to because that's what your day is.

That's also why I have no desire to live on his budget.  I grew up DIY absolutely everything because we were poor and had no other choice.  Now that I can afford not to *have* to do all of that, I have zero desire to go back.  I prefer to pick and choose the DIY stuff that I get some enjoyment out of and to pay other people to do the stuff I don't.  You will pry my cleaning service out of my cold, dead hands.  I have done the math on how much longer I need to work to cover a cleaning service in perpetuity, and honestly, it's cheap at twice the price.  Now, I do have those skills, and I have the fundamental self-confidence to know that I can get by on a lot less, and I can do all that stuff for myself if I need to or decide I want to at some point.  But I don't want to.  And boy do I enjoy not having to.

I also have a much higher need for security than Pete.  Again, growing up poor, the driving motivator to my life has been never to be poor again.  I want my 'stache to have a nice, fat cushion in it so I don't have to worry about running out of money.  I can't imagine going without insurance -- I've been on the losing side of health issues even when the statistics said that it was very unlikely to happen to me, and so I just don't have that innate confidence that everything will turn out all right and the odds will be ever in my favor.  So I am very well-insured to ensure that if and when life hands me the short end of the stick again, it at least doesn't destroy everything I've worked for.  Now, of course, if I hated my job and couldn't wait to leave, I would definitely compromise on these things.  But since I don't, I might as well spend some extra money on peace of mind.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: LightTripper on June 24, 2020, 07:40:12 AM
I think that for those of us who are old enough that we started reading the blog "from the start" it was pretty clear that MMM is a character (I mean, the first couple of posts even set out another character as a counterpoint).  It's a device and has been a very clever and effective one that has engaged many thousands of people to be more intentional about their spending, earning and how they spend their time.

I do agree that lately (that first Covid post being the one that jumped out at me) some privilege & disconnect has crept in.  What can I say. I'm sure I show my privilege in pretty unattractive ways very often too, and it's no fun to be called out on it, but we need to be, and it does us good to be.  We can all afford to learn and grow.

Nonetheless, Pete (and the "MMM" character he created) has done a huge amount of good in the world.  Not just providing people with the means and confidence to build more financial security for *themselves* - but then freeing those people to be more active and engaged in their *communities,* more interested in environmental protection, etc. etc. etc.  So while I don't mind criticising I think it's important to recognise all the value he's created too.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: simonsez on June 24, 2020, 07:58:59 AM
+1 to @Laura33

While not identical, I feel similarly.  RE is a nice path for those that want it and I will likely retire earlier than my peers but FI is the much larger side of the equation.  I wouldn't call it poor but I definitely grew up lower middle class.  This meant my dad had to work 3 jobs, my parents routinely carried cc debt, minimal retirement savings, zero savings for kids' college or headstart in life, but that we also always had enough for food on the table.  Childhood was super happy but it stresses me out as an adult thinking about some of the aspects.  Thus, I am motivated to work in a satisfying and enjoyable career (which I also enjoy a bit of the structure it gives me) which also has a good deal of life/leisure flexibility, carry no cc debt, save way more than average for retirement, learn personal finance above and beyond just the basics, make educated consumer choices with a slight environmental consideration, and share financial tenets/advice with loved ones as needed.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: LWYRUP on June 24, 2020, 07:59:06 AM
Generally I like Pete and his blog and I think he does (did?) a great job.  I also don't really care about minor quibbles or differences in our lifestyle, he's a blogger not my guru.

I think he should have been more thoughtful in his discussions of his insurance.  Insurance is designed to prevent catastrophic risk.  If you can self-insure, that is great.  But many people cannot self-insure certain risks and for them appropriate insurance is critical.  I say this as someone that thinks that many people often over-insure and should think more critically about what they REALLY need covered.

And while salads and barbells are helpful, they cannot ensure health and so going without health insurance is staggeringly risky (UNLESS perhaps you happen to have millions and millions just laying around anyways so who cares).

I worry that some people who don't think through all this carefully will forego needed insurance and suffer (and maybe die) as a result.  He should do another post treating this topic more carefully.

But that's like 999 good posts and a handful of bad ones so all in all I really can't complain and am very grateful for what I learned from his blog and this forum. 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: dodojojo on June 24, 2020, 08:26:06 AM
This week I visited the blog in the first time in ages. I forgot there was even a MMM blog/site and that the MMM forums existed as a standalone entity.  I find the forum much more useful on a day to day basis and once in a blue moon, visit the blog as a foundational reminder.  But I find that the blog doesn't really speak to me nowadays. 

I think it is a privilege to be cavalier about health insurance in the USA, especially when your purported online income is over 400K annually.  Those of us without that level and type of income probably should stick to health insurance.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Morning Glory on June 24, 2020, 08:36:36 AM
This week I visited the blog in the first time in ages. I forgot there was even a MMM blog/site and that the MMM forums existed as a standalone entity.  I find the forum much more useful on a day to day basis and once in a blue moon, visit the blog as a foundational reminder.  But I find that the blog doesn't really speak to me nowadays. 

I think it is a privilege to be cavalier about health insurance in the USA, especially when your purported online income is over 400K annually.  Those of us without that level and type of income probably should stick to health insurance.

He probably still has Canadian citizenship, which gives him the right to move back to Canada and get free treatment should he develop an expensive condition. There is still the risk of accident, but he is not risking having to pay out of pocket for cancer treatments or something. That makes it much safer not to have insurance, and not mentioning his safety net makes that post even more irresponsible.

I generally like the blog with the environment angle and the facepunches, clown cars, etc., but that article gave me pause about recommending the site to others.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: dodojojo on June 24, 2020, 08:42:33 AM
@Aunt Petunia

Good point about Canadian citizenship and healthcare--increasing his privileged status.  I haven't read the blog post in question but if he didn't acknowledge his fortuitous circumstances while advocating against health insurance, it is indeed irresponsible. I think especially for MMMers.  Imagine working and saving so diligently for FI only for a health situation to wipe out your stash?
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Cpa Cat on June 24, 2020, 08:58:03 AM
I also have a much higher need for security than Pete.  Again, growing up poor, the driving motivator to my life has been never to be poor again.  I want my 'stache to have a nice, fat cushion in it so I don't have to worry about running out of money.

I think the extremely misleading thing that bothers me about him is that he has that security. He has considerable undisclosed cash assets and income from this website. It's part of why he's willing to take that risk. He says it in a cavalier "I don't need insurance because I take care of my health and property and statistics make it unlikely I'd need to use insurance" but the unspoken part of that statement is "and I have millions of dollars and could afford to buy a replacement house outright tomorrow with cash, and I could afford to lose a million bucks and my general wealth and lifestyle will not be drastically affected." That's what really bothers me. He's not actually taking the risk. He's advocating for a risk that isn't a true risk to him due to his wealth (and not because of statistics, like he says), and if people actually listened to him, they would be taking on far more risk than he is.

He probably still has Canadian citizenship, which gives him the right to move back to Canada and get free treatment should he develop an expensive condition. There is still the risk of accident, but he is not risking having to pay out of pocket for cancer treatments or something. That makes it much safer not to have insurance, and not mentioning his safety net makes that post even more irresponsible.

This is a misunderstanding that a lot of people have. You can't just move back to Canada and be covered tomorrow by Health Canada, even as a citizen. Most provinces have at least a 3 month waiting period to establish residency and get covered.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on June 24, 2020, 09:03:16 AM

I'll start.
- I don't like the concept of being overly judgmental about others' purchases. E.g. "clown cars." I think it should suffice to say that you should only buy what truly gives you value and leave it at that. MMM can be a little parochial/evangelical in this regard. You can think that someone else's purchase is unlikely to be financially wise without getting super judgmental about it.


Here's the thing about face-punches, "clown-cars" and the overal judgemental portion of this forum:  "In the beginning" the message was about individuals looking at their own lives and giving themselves face-punches. It's been about recognizing your own financially stupid decisions, recognizing them and taking responsibility for them.  Personal accountability, not exterior enforcement.

Somewhere along the line it became de vogue for members to issue face-punches to others, to call them out for wasteful spending, even when they weren't askinbg for feedback (e.g. with a 'case study').  It's made for some nasty threads and turned a lot of people away, and a few have been banned.  It even violates two of the forum rules (#1: don't be a jerk, and #4: Be respectful...of other members). Re-reading the original blog posts it's clear that a face-punch is something you give yourself -- a way of acknowledging your past mistakes.  In retrospect I think the metaphor could have been more constructive if it didn't have such a violent connotation to it.  Instead of a 'face-punch" encourage users to dance the jig of financial stupidity (or whatever -- just an example).  But 'Face-Punch" is succinct and powerful - probably why Pete used it in the first place.


I'll even fess up to issuing some unwarranted face punches myself (and by "unwarranted" I mean giving them to people why they weren't explicitly asking for others to examine their finances).  It took another long-term poster - @Nords - to make me rethink and reread what the message and the metaphors were all about in the first place.

Part of the shift could be attributed to the shift in the forum members itself.  We're bigger and far more diverse than before.  In the first couple of years it was largely a bunch of left-brained North Americans that spent a great deal of time running mathmatical calculations to optimize everything.  Now it's far more diverse (good!) but the math has to a major degree been replaced with emotion, and that has been often supplied wtih vigor and (sometimes) judgemental connotations from other, more frugal members.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: vand on June 24, 2020, 09:32:06 AM
I don't disagree much with any of the generic ethos of MMM - living below your means by employing McGuyver-esque resoucefulness to create a financial excess to buy your future freedom I am totally on board with.

The issue I see is that it can very easily become an obsessive race to the bottom in service to the almighty saving rate. It's mathematically easy to reach FI - just don't spend any money. Hey presto- you're financially independent!  But living like a monk in a closet just to reach FI s defeating the point of it. If you hate your job so much that you are so desperate to FIRE then not having enough money to FIRE isn't your problem, working a job you hate that gives you no intrinsic motivation is your problem.

Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: John Galt incarnate! on June 24, 2020, 09:48:20 AM
I thought it would be fun to have a contrarian topic

I'll start.
- I don't like the concept of being overly judgmental about others' purchases. E.g. "clown cars." I think it should suffice to say that you should only buy what truly gives you value and leave it at that. MMM can be a little parochial/evangelical in this regard. You can think that someone else's purchase is unlikely to be financially wise without getting super judgmental about it.

- I don't like the term "FU Money". Again, it seems to be seeking conflict where there may not be any. I approve of the concept of knowing your value and just leaving if you're not getting paid it, but you can leave a company on perfectly good terms even if the company isn't being great to you (in fact learning not to burn bridges is part of adult life), and therefore the "FU" part in it again, seems needlessly aggressive. Even the idea of saying "FU" to your company when you finally hit FIRE is something that I don't find appealing because I see work and FIRE as a journey not a destination, so you should not be letting things get to the "FU" stage. (Or seeing your boss as an adversary.)

I know you don't get hits without being memorable in a way but I think those parts of the philosophy can cause an "us vs them" approach that isn't really needed.

How about you?

I'm not  doctrinaire in opposition to the consumption of fossil fuels and use of ICE-powered vehicles as MMM and other  Mu$tachian$ are.

I like big, curvy (zaftig ha ha!) cars  like the Bentleys of the 1960s and the Holden Efijy, an Austrailan custom-made car that is breathtakingly beautiful.

I am not in favor of redistributionist policies to the extent most Mu$tachian$ are.

I would NEVER say "Fxxk you " to anyone not to mention an employer or former employer.

Having  FU money appeals to me in that  it is a security-enhancing option that empowers an individual but  for me the empowerment  itself provides all the satisfaction I need: In a FU-money situation I wouldn't reveal that I had the upper hand because I had FU money.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Physicsteacher on June 24, 2020, 10:04:15 AM
But his underlying message is that if they get sick, it's because they didn't take good enough care of themselves.

This is the biggest thing that bothers me about MMM and certain forum members. I was an otherwise healthy twenty five year old who maintained an appropriate weight, age my vegetables, and exercised regularly when I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Sometimes you draw a statistically unlikely shit hand.

There's also an attitude of denial about the realities of end of life. Diet and exercise may postpone some of the physical and cognitive declines that accompany aging, but no one can plan on forestalling them forever. I'd feel wildly irresponsible not to plan for some increase in spending in my eighties or nineties if assistance with life activities becomes needed.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mm1970 on June 24, 2020, 10:08:58 AM
In his Jan 27 blog post, he says he neither has home owner's insurance nor health insurance. His reasoning: insurance is for suckas who don't understand statistics (not a direct quote).

This is a direct quote though: "I also still like the old-school advice of ďdonít buy stuff that you canít afford to lose, and take really good care of the stuff that you do have.Ē"

So if you take care of your house, a tornado won't hit it. But if it does, and you care, then it's because you bought a house you couldn't afford to lose. Statistically, it may be unlikely that your house burns down or a tornado hits it, but it happens to people every single year. And for most people trying to FIRE, they aren't budgeting in "burned down house and no insurance to replace it." That would be financially ruinous for most people.

On the health side, he says he works out anywhere between 1-8 hours a day and eats healthy, so he's never had a health problem. He also credits genetics. But we all know that healthy living and genetics don't stop you from having a bike accident when you bike everywhere, right? And for most people, salads and barbells are not going to stop them from getting cancer. Being generally healthy and having no insurance does tend to make people skip annual visits to the doctor to check for sneaky underlying conditions that are not immediately obvious, though. In any case, when a hospital stay in the USA can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and a cancer diagnosis can cost millions, most FIRE'ing individuals can't really risk being uninsured.

But his underlying message is that if they get sick, it's because they didn't take good enough care of themselves.

I had a friend who was hospitalized with COVID and their pre insurance bills were in the six figures. MMM doesn't care about COVID (March 3 blog post) or health insurance, because he thinks it's statistically unlikely that he's going to be affected by it.

I feel like his huge wealth has caused him to lose touch with real humans and start taking on risks that are clearly inappropriate for 99% of the population, and potentially devastating to his actual followers, who are trying to retire early on a fixed budget.
Exactly.  I think this is a place where he lost me too.  Also, it was too much American Individualism for me, to be honest.

Insurance is there to hedge your bets, and also to spread the cost and benefits around the population.  You may pay for insurance and literally never need it.  Live healthy, no meds, drop dead at 90.  But you may end up with COVID or cancer or get hit by a car.  The idea is that everyone pays and anyone can benefit.  You never know what's going to hit you, and you can inch the statistics in one direction or another by lifestyle - but it's by no means a guarantee.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: bmjohnson35 on June 24, 2020, 10:09:34 AM
I think many have echoed my thoughts on the MMM doctrine.  Life is about balance and determining what is the right balance for you can't be defined by others.  Whether it's MMM, the latest teen idol or religion, I do find it interesting how many people gravitate toward "following." I think this is fundamentally counter to MMM's ethos.  Regardless, his website and the associated forum is a great source for learning about how to become FIRE.   
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on June 24, 2020, 10:11:25 AM

The issue I see is that it can very easily become an obsessive race to the bottom in service to the almighty saving rate. It's mathematically easy to reach FI - just don't spend any money. Hey presto- you're financially independent!  But living like a monk in a closet just to reach FI s defeating the point of it. If you hate your job so much that you are so desperate to FIRE then not having enough money to FIRE isn't your problem, working a job you hate that gives you no intrinsic motivation is your problem.

I agree that there's a lot of people on this forum and in the FIRE movement in general for whom savings becomes it's own goal.  But that's a concept that Pete's tried very hard (with only some success) to dispel from the very early days.  There's also the concept of SWAMI here, for those of us who plan to continue working in some capacity long after we've hit our FI number because our jobs are something we've cultivated over years and take great joy in performing.

Two relevant blog-posts:
https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2014/11/23/not-extreme-frugality/ (https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2014/11/23/not-extreme-frugality/)
https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/04/30/weekend-edition-retire-in-your-mind-even-if-you-love-your-job/ (https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/04/30/weekend-edition-retire-in-your-mind-even-if-you-love-your-job/)

There's also been a great deal of discussion about how ER as a goal in and of itself will not increase your happiness; one must have a life and goals outside of work, otherwise FIREing tends to lead to unhappiness.  Laura33 had a great post about this which wound up in the "Best Post TOday" thread - though I can't find it at the moment.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on June 24, 2020, 10:13:20 AM
In his Jan 27 blog post, he says he neither has home owner's insurance nor health insurance. His reasoning: insurance is for suckas who don't understand statistics (not a direct quote).

This is a direct quote though: "I also still like the old-school advice of ďdonít buy stuff that you canít afford to lose, and take really good care of the stuff that you do have.Ē"

So if you take care of your house, a tornado won't hit it. But if it does, and you care, then it's because you bought a house you couldn't afford to lose. Statistically, it may be unlikely that your house burns down or a tornado hits it, but it happens to people every single year. And for most people trying to FIRE, they aren't budgeting in "burned down house and no insurance to replace it." That would be financially ruinous for most people.

On the health side, he says he works out anywhere between 1-8 hours a day and eats healthy, so he's never had a health problem. He also credits genetics. But we all know that healthy living and genetics don't stop you from having a bike accident when you bike everywhere, right? And for most people, salads and barbells are not going to stop them from getting cancer. Being generally healthy and having no insurance does tend to make people skip annual visits to the doctor to check for sneaky underlying conditions that are not immediately obvious, though. In any case, when a hospital stay in the USA can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and a cancer diagnosis can cost millions, most FIRE'ing individuals can't really risk being uninsured.

But his underlying message is that if they get sick, it's because they didn't take good enough care of themselves.

I had a friend who was hospitalized with COVID and their pre insurance bills were in the six figures. MMM doesn't care about COVID (March 3 blog post) or health insurance, because he thinks it's statistically unlikely that he's going to be affected by it.

I feel like his huge wealth has caused him to lose touch with real humans and start taking on risks that are clearly inappropriate for 99% of the population, and potentially devastating to his actual followers, who are trying to retire early on a fixed budget.
Exactly.  I think this is a place where he lost me too.  Also, it was too much American Individualism for me, to be honest.

Insurance is there to hedge your bets, and also to spread the cost and benefits around the population.  You may pay for insurance and literally never need it.  Live healthy, no meds, drop dead at 90.  But you may end up with COVID or cancer or get hit by a car.  The idea is that everyone pays and anyone can benefit.  You never know what's going to hit you, and you can inch the statistics in one direction or another by lifestyle - but it's by no means a guarantee.

To my knowledge MMM has always carried health insurance, and has been a fan of the high-deductible plans when available.  He's opted (correctly, IMO) not to carry insurance on other items, like comprehensive car insurance.  He's even written posts about how the ACA has been great for the FIRE movement.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mm1970 on June 24, 2020, 10:13:36 AM
Hahahahaha.  Given that I continue to be surprised y'all haven't kicked me off the island yet, my particular list could go on forever.  The StupidCar is the obvious thing.

I am also not super fixated on the RE part of FIRE.  Pete seems to have a very, very strong aversion to working for anyone and to ceding authority to anyone else over how he spends any of his time. I just don't have that; in fact, I'm much more productive when I have clear goals to meet and clear deadlines to force me to kick my ass into gear -- and I'm also happier when I'm productive.  I like my job; I like the intellectual challenge it provides, and it's not something I can really do on my own once I quit.  Same with my DH -- he does advanced tech and gets to play with multi-million-dollar toys every day while he works to create things that don't currently exist.  While he gets annoyed by the office politics stuff, stepping away from the job also means giving up the best playground and the best games he has ever had.  I absolutely love the power that comes from being FI, but RE isn't as much a driver.

And on the flip side, I don't get jazzed about construction projects and figuring out DIY to the same degree Pete does.  I am completely on board with the idea of challenging yourself, doing stuff the hard way sometimes specifically because it's hard, learning new skills, and all of that.  I just really have no desire to have those kinds of projects be all day, every day.  It's fun to putter because you want to; it's less fun when you have to because that's what your day is.

That's also why I have no desire to live on his budget. I grew up DIY absolutely everything because we were poor and had no other choice.  Now that I can afford not to *have* to do all of that, I have zero desire to go back.  I prefer to pick and choose the DIY stuff that I get some enjoyment out of and to pay other people to do the stuff I don't.  You will pry my cleaning service out of my cold, dead hands.  I have done the math on how much longer I need to work to cover a cleaning service in perpetuity, and honestly, it's cheap at twice the price.  Now, I do have those skills, and I have the fundamental self-confidence to know that I can get by on a lot less, and I can do all that stuff for myself if I need to or decide I want to at some point.  But I don't want to.  And boy do I enjoy not having to.

I also have a much higher need for security than Pete.  Again, growing up poor, the driving motivator to my life has been never to be poor again.  I want my 'stache to have a nice, fat cushion in it so I don't have to worry about running out of money.  I can't imagine going without insurance -- I've been on the losing side of health issues even when the statistics said that it was very unlikely to happen to me, and so I just don't have that innate confidence that everything will turn out all right and the odds will be ever in my favor.  So I am very well-insured to ensure that if and when life hands me the short end of the stick again, it at least doesn't destroy everything I've worked for.  Now, of course, if I hated my job and couldn't wait to leave, I would definitely compromise on these things.  But since I don't, I might as well spend some extra money on peace of mind.
I would never want to kick you off the island, you bring wisdom.

All the bolded are the same for me.  Except: I miss my cleaning service. We are waiting until we've reached stage 4 to bring them back.  We are still paying them however.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mm1970 on June 24, 2020, 10:18:51 AM
In his Jan 27 blog post, he says he neither has home owner's insurance nor health insurance. His reasoning: insurance is for suckas who don't understand statistics (not a direct quote).

This is a direct quote though: "I also still like the old-school advice of ďdonít buy stuff that you canít afford to lose, and take really good care of the stuff that you do have.Ē"

So if you take care of your house, a tornado won't hit it. But if it does, and you care, then it's because you bought a house you couldn't afford to lose. Statistically, it may be unlikely that your house burns down or a tornado hits it, but it happens to people every single year. And for most people trying to FIRE, they aren't budgeting in "burned down house and no insurance to replace it." That would be financially ruinous for most people.

On the health side, he says he works out anywhere between 1-8 hours a day and eats healthy, so he's never had a health problem. He also credits genetics. But we all know that healthy living and genetics don't stop you from having a bike accident when you bike everywhere, right? And for most people, salads and barbells are not going to stop them from getting cancer. Being generally healthy and having no insurance does tend to make people skip annual visits to the doctor to check for sneaky underlying conditions that are not immediately obvious, though. In any case, when a hospital stay in the USA can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and a cancer diagnosis can cost millions, most FIRE'ing individuals can't really risk being uninsured.

But his underlying message is that if they get sick, it's because they didn't take good enough care of themselves.

I had a friend who was hospitalized with COVID and their pre insurance bills were in the six figures. MMM doesn't care about COVID (March 3 blog post) or health insurance, because he thinks it's statistically unlikely that he's going to be affected by it.

I feel like his huge wealth has caused him to lose touch with real humans and start taking on risks that are clearly inappropriate for 99% of the population, and potentially devastating to his actual followers, who are trying to retire early on a fixed budget.
Exactly.  I think this is a place where he lost me too.  Also, it was too much American Individualism for me, to be honest.

Insurance is there to hedge your bets, and also to spread the cost and benefits around the population.  You may pay for insurance and literally never need it.  Live healthy, no meds, drop dead at 90.  But you may end up with COVID or cancer or get hit by a car.  The idea is that everyone pays and anyone can benefit.  You never know what's going to hit you, and you can inch the statistics in one direction or another by lifestyle - but it's by no means a guarantee.

To my knowledge MMM has always carried health insurance, and has been a fan of the high-deductible plans when available.  He's opted (correctly, IMO) not to carry insurance on other items, like comprehensive car insurance.  He's even written posts about how the ACA has been great for the FIRE movement.
Nope, read his summary of 2019 expenses.  No health insurance.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on June 24, 2020, 10:28:15 AM
I stand corrected.  Earlier on I know he carried (and wrote about) how great a high deductible plan was for FI/RE types. 

https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2017/11/05/when-your-shitty-health-insurance-doubles-in-price/ (https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2017/11/05/when-your-shitty-health-insurance-doubles-in-price/)
and earlier (before the ACA came under sustained attack)
https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/10/28/obamacare-friend-of-the-entrepreneur-and-early-retiree/ (https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/10/28/obamacare-friend-of-the-entrepreneur-and-early-retiree/)
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Nords on June 24, 2020, 10:46:27 AM
I'll start.
- I don't like the concept of being overly judgmental about others' purchases. E.g. "clown cars." I think it should suffice to say that you should only buy what truly gives you value and leave it at that. MMM can be a little parochial/evangelical in this regard. You can think that someone else's purchase is unlikely to be financially wise without getting super judgmental about it.
Here's the thing about face-punches, "clown-cars" and the overal judgemental portion of this forum:  "In the beginning" the message was about individuals looking at their own lives and giving themselves face-punches. It's been about recognizing your own financially stupid decisions, recognizing them and taking responsibility for them.  Personal accountability, not exterior enforcement.

Somewhere along the line it became de vogue for members to issue face-punches to others, to call them out for wasteful spending, even when they weren't askinbg for feedback (e.g. with a 'case study').  It's made for some nasty threads and turned a lot of people away, and a few have been banned.  It even violates two of the forum rules (#1: don't be a jerk, and #4: Be respectful...of other members). Re-reading the original blog posts it's clear that a face-punch is something you give yourself -- a way of acknowledging your past mistakes.  In retrospect I think the metaphor could have been more constructive if it didn't have such a violent connotation to it.  Instead of a 'face-punch" encourage users to dance the jig of financial stupidity (or whatever -- just an example).  But 'Face-Punch" is succinct and powerful - probably why Pete used it in the first place.

I'll even fess up to issuing some unwarranted face punches myself (and by "unwarranted" I mean giving them to people why they weren't explicitly asking for others to examine their finances).  It took another long-term poster - @Nords - to make me rethink and reread what the message and the metaphors were all about in the first place.

Part of the shift could be attributed to the shift in the forum members itself.  We're bigger and far more diverse than before.  In the first couple of years it was largely a bunch of left-brained North Americans that spent a great deal of time running mathmatical calculations to optimize everything.  Now it's far more diverse (good!) but the math has to a major degree been replaced with emotion, and that has been often supplied wtih vigor and (sometimes) judgemental connotations from other, more frugal members.
I appreciate the tag, Nereo, I would've overlooked this thread.  It's a very interesting discussion.

I realize that we're all posting about this subject with respect and tact, but I have to admit that it's ironic to face-punch the tactics of the guy who created the concept which ranks so highly on search engines. 

Pete's first use of the phrase was "face-punch yourself", and it's specifically some members of this forum who derailed his intent by enthusiastically administering face-punches to other posters.  A few of the new members perpetuated this accidental culture.  And then a few others expanded the Hall of Shame portion of this forum.  We all enjoy the Hall of Shame schadenfreude (and perhaps we learn how to help people who will eventually desperately need the help) but hopefully most of us evolve beyond that.

The same for "clown car" and "badassity"-- those types of keywords are not just richly rewarded by algorithms but are also a novel breath of fresh air to people who've read all the other personal-finance blogs. 

He's writing stuff that people want to read and discuss.  This forum also contains that material.  It's a highly effective technique for growing an audience, but it occasionally gets out of hand.

He's also been writing for long enough that a large crowd of analysts readers have had the time to dissect all of his content and point out the flaws.  When that happens in my audience, I see the opportunity to write another blog post ("Here's Where You Think My Content Is Flawed, And Why It Is Or Isn't") but perhaps Pete has moved on from some of those discussions and is focused on new material.  I feel the same way-- I've aged out of writing about how to reach FI (and how to retire early) and perhaps now my time is better spent on writing about FI for life.

A person's individual hypothetical tolerance for risk (and their attitude about it) may be based on their perception of "nothing bad has happened yet, and I can handle it."  A tiny probability of disaster is still a statistic, while a black swan is a very personal disaster.

My spouse and I have survived a fairly hazardous lifestyle and have seen many bad things happen to good people.  (We were paid to be expert at killing people and breaking things.)  Yet we still take risks which perhaps have little justification.  I wear helmets (but not surfer lifevests).  We have health insurance (but not dental insurance).  We have vehicle liability insurance, but no collision/comprehensive.  We have home insurance (with very high deductibles) but no personal-property insurance.  We have enough money for life yet we still invest >95% equities instead of in a TIPS fund or annuities. 

Our logic is inconsistent because now we're not just FI but excessively affluent and can afford to buy insurance.  We should buy more insurance because its cost won't reduce our quality of life, but we still don't value it.

I rarely ride my bicycle, yet we recharge our EVs with free sunshine.  I occasionally gun it on the highway because of "free", even though I still feel guilty about the suboptimal use of electrons and wear&tear on the motor generator.

Pete's values for helmets and insurance and Stoicisms are based on his life experiences and his attitudes.  It'll be interesting to see how those values evolve with age and with more life experiences.

Here's a related rant topic:  it's the evolution of groups. 

This forum has succeeded in its purpose by going the way of all successful forums.  It started out as a quiet little neighborhood gathering on the back lanai with food & beverages and interesting discussions.  Occasionally someone got a bit out of hand ("Hold my beer: cryptocurrencies!!") and they're quietly taken aside to change the subject or relax.  That back-lanai philosophy lives on in Camp Mustaches and CampFIs and the MMM co-working space. 

Meanwhile this forum has attracted a huge crowd requiring extra acreage, noise permits, valets offsite parking with shuttle buses, and even security services.  Most of the original forum members have moved on (or visit less often) because it's no longer the type of forum they enjoy. 

I went through this cycle with Early-Retirement.org in the early 2000s.  We didn't even have moderators until months after the forum had grown large enough to attract a few jerks (and at least one troll).  Eventually it got to be too much-- too many new posts every day, too many new people asking the same ol' questions (and never reading the FAQs), too many rehashes of the perpetual debates... too much noise.  I invested thousands of hours of time in that forum and my tool marks are all over it (along with a couple dozen other early members) and we enjoy remembering what we created... but it's gone corporate and we don't enjoy dealing with the crowds anymore.

I remember thinking that it was ludicrous of the founder of E-R.org to sell the forum (and stop posting there) just to spend more time with his grandbaby and to start other projects.  (The creator of E-R.org and FIREcalc actually co-founded a web design startup and went back to work!)  Today I have a new appreciation for his perspective, and it helps me laugh at myself while wondering where I'll be 25 years from now.

A few of us early members of E-R.org started our own back-lanai forum to continue our talks about FI for life.  We only have six members.  We're all moderators.  We mostly talk about lifestyle sustainability and the challenges of aging on our bodies, not our finances.  I'm there almost every day.  Another guy uses the forum as a sort of online memory and project-management tool.  One guy got a bit out of hand and eventually stopped posting there.  A couple other members only show up once or twice a year.

It's not just one example.  A few of us early attendees of FinCon have our own separate group of only 21 military personal-finance bloggers.  (There are hundreds of military PF bloggers.)  We spend more time there talking with each other than in the main FinCon group. 

I'm in the same place here.  I enjoyed reading the MMM forum every day until its daily updates grew over 200 threads.  Now I only drop by weekly or so, and I search for my name and for the keyword "military."  That's the topic where I spend the majority of my time, and if you're not military then you probably hardly ever notice my posts.

IRL I enjoy Camp Mustache (the one in North Bend) but I feel as if I'm hogging a ticket if I go back every year.  (I think last year's tickets sold out in minutes.)  I'd rather let others discover Camp Mustache all over again for the first time.  I enjoy FinCon but it's grown so big that I no longer attend the FinCon events on the schedule... I hang out at the podcast tables and the video booths and the lounges talking with people.  The people I want to chat with know how to find me, and I still do some mentoring & peer tutoring, but otherwise I avoid the noise.  Last year I had a life-changing week at FI Chautauqua (even after 17 years of FI, it still changed my life) but again... small group, very popular ticket.  I'm unlikely to return.

I really enjoy CampFI and I'll eventually do more of those when I'm no longer vulnerable to COVID-19-- especially when Stephen can schedule consecutive weekends in an area where I don't mind visiting for a few months. 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: HipGnosis on June 24, 2020, 10:58:57 AM
I'm not sure if it's MMM's - since I 'outgrew' the blog years ago., but...
I disagree with the zealot environmentalism some have/portray.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: jpompo on June 24, 2020, 10:59:26 AM
What bothers me is the doctoring of the books to bury personal expenses under business expenses thereby making your personal expenses look lower than reality.

100% this. The annual budget is a total joke and it gets worse by the year. This year I bought a new Tesla but it doesn't count as an expense because it's really cool, I love Elon Musk, and I wrote a blog post about it. I traveled to Ecuador 3 times but I planted a tree, so, not a personal expense, because, reasons.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: FINate on June 24, 2020, 11:00:56 AM
I haven't really followed the blog in recent years. The insurance issue is concerning and gives me pause recommending MMM to others. And it seems like a missed opportunity to provide clarity of thought around the real purpose and utility of insurance. Yes, having a big 'stache means you can (and should) save a bunch of money by forgoing insurance/extended warranties on most things. Which things? Depends on the size of your 'stache. Most people, including the thin-FIRE crowd, can get away with the minimum auto insurance, especially if the vehicle is inexpensive. E.g. a less than $10k replacement cost out of $650k (or whatever the magic thin-FIRE number is nowadays) can easily be absorbed. But home and health insurance is next-level, which I suspect may be a source of cognitive dissonance for Pete: He doesn't need such insurance due to his high level personal wealth (he's essentially extreme fat-FIRE), yet his blog advocates thin-FIRE. Transparency and honesty is the remedy, albeit with some loss of authority on the practical realities of thin-FIRE. This is where things like guest contributors who are truly thin-FIRE could add a voice of authenticity.

On towing...I don't know if MMM advocates exceeding tow/payload limits, or if this is just something that's taken on a life of its own in these forums. But it's highly inconsistent to say everyone should wear a mask in public to protect others (which I completely agree with!) while also arguing that it's okay to put yourself and others at danger by driving an overloaded vehicle on public roads. Tow and payload specs are not arbitrary, nor are they a conspiracy to sell SUVs/trucks. The difference between EU and US specs for the same vehicle are due to speed limits/highway standards, and load distribution between the tow vehicle and trailer. If your US edition Toyota is rated to tow 1500 lbs then fine, tow that amount, but make sure you stay under those limits while also staying under payload limits (the tongue weight contributes to the total payload of the tow vehicle).

Another topic that's come up in recent months that I'll add to the list: Emergency Funds. I've always deviated from the MMM stance on this by keeping a healthy EF that can cover my expenses for at least 6 months, quite a bit longer if we tighten our belts. This isn't all in cash, mostly in tiers of short to medium term bonds. The net effect is a EF that produces some income but with way less risk than equities. IMO, most FIRE folks should have some type of EF fund to ride out times of extreme market volatility.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Hula Hoop on June 24, 2020, 11:06:18 AM
I know that this is not the subject of his blog but he never touches upon the race, class and gender aspects of money.  Although he says that his approach also works for low incomes it would be much harder for, for example, a single parent with multiple children and a low income to execute FIRE than a privileged person like MMM himself. 

I also find his dismissive attitude to illness and disability rather insulting.  You can do everything 'right' and still get sick.  I was probably equally oblivious until I actually got sick in my 30s.  Luckily, I live in Italy but if I still lived in the US healthcare would be a big and permanent expense for me.  And of course anyone could end up with health issues no matter how much bike riding and salads they indulge in.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: OtherJen on June 24, 2020, 11:20:19 AM
I also find his dismissive attitude to illness and disability rather insulting.  You can do everything 'right' and still get sick.  I was probably equally oblivious until I actually got sick in my 30s.  Luckily, I live in Italy but if I still lived in the US healthcare would be a big and permanent expense for me.  And of course anyone could end up with health issues no matter how much bike riding and salads they indulge in.

Yep. My cousin was a well-off, very fit and healthy corporate executive when he found out that he had kidney cancer (he went to the doctor because he thought he had a kidney stone). He was back to running 6 weeks after having the kidney removed. He died of aggressive metastatic disease less than a year later, at age 48. But he had good insurance, so the medical bills didnít bankrupt his young family while they were grieving.

A healthy lifestyle will mitigate lifestyle-related diseases. It isnít insurance.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Cpa Cat on June 24, 2020, 11:21:22 AM
...which I suspect may be a source of cognitive dissonance for Pete: He doesn't need such insurance due to his high level personal wealth (he's essentially extreme fat-FIRE), yet his blog advocates thin-FIRE. Transparency and honesty is the remedy, albeit with some loss of authority on the practical realities of thin-FIRE. This is where things like guest contributors who are truly thin-FIRE could add a voice of authenticity.

Agreed. I think he'd get a lot of credibility back for me if he stopped talking about himself and his lifestyle/businesses, and instead did more Case Studies and focused on things that are working for other people, or coaching other people to do better in their journey to FIRE.

I mean... don't even get me started on that building he bought in his town, renovated, and basically created a Mustache-Bro Country Club (Sorry... MMM HQ?). None of the expenses of the Mustache-Bro Country Club are included in his personal expenses, because the Mustache-Bro Country Club is it's own separate entity, where the Bros can get together and brew beer, drink beer, play with tools, work on projects, work out, socialize, have parties. The Mustache Bro Country Club was bought and renovated with loose change that Pete found in between his couch cushions. Does the Mustache Bro Country Club run a profit? No. It's operated on a non profit basis. Does it break even? Who could say... its financials are never disclosed. And yet it manages to suck up all of Pete's hobby expenses. Like magic, they disappear from his personal budget.

Too bad you don't own a "non profit" Mustache Bro Country Club. You lowly peasants will need to have a budget line item for entertainment in your retirement budget.

I guess I got started after all.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: John Galt incarnate! on June 24, 2020, 11:35:01 AM
I do find it interesting how many people gravitate toward "following." I think this is fundamentally counter to MMM's ethos.

I agree.

Following  a path blazed by others may be suitable but doing so is only  advisable after  searching,  critical self-examination.

Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: FINate on June 24, 2020, 11:36:32 AM
...which I suspect may be a source of cognitive dissonance for Pete: He doesn't need such insurance due to his high level personal wealth (he's essentially extreme fat-FIRE), yet his blog advocates thin-FIRE. Transparency and honesty is the remedy, albeit with some loss of authority on the practical realities of thin-FIRE. This is where things like guest contributors who are truly thin-FIRE could add a voice of authenticity.

Agreed. I think he'd get a lot of credibility back for me if he stopped talking about himself and his lifestyle/businesses, and instead did more Case Studies and focused on things that are working for other people, or coaching other people to do better in their journey to FIRE.

I mean... don't even get me started on that building he bought in his town, renovated, and basically created a Mustache-Bro Country Club (Sorry... MMM HQ?). None of the expenses of the Mustache-Bro Country Club are included in his personal expenses, because the Mustache-Bro Country Club is it's own separate entity, where the Bros can get together and brew beer, drink beer, play with tools, work on projects, work out, socialize, have parties. The Mustache Bro Country Club was bought and renovated with loose change that Pete found in between his couch cushions. Does the Mustache Bro Country Club run a profit? No. It's operated on a non profit basis. Does it break even? Who could say... its financials are never disclosed. And yet it manages to suck up all of Pete's hobby expenses. Like magic, they disappear from his personal budget.

Too bad you don't own a "non profit" Mustache Bro Country Club. You lowly peasants will need to have a budget line item for entertainment in your retirement budget.

I guess I got started after all.

Hmm...I hadn't heard about Country Club. Where do I find more information about it?
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: RWD on June 24, 2020, 11:45:40 AM
...which I suspect may be a source of cognitive dissonance for Pete: He doesn't need such insurance due to his high level personal wealth (he's essentially extreme fat-FIRE), yet his blog advocates thin-FIRE. Transparency and honesty is the remedy, albeit with some loss of authority on the practical realities of thin-FIRE. This is where things like guest contributors who are truly thin-FIRE could add a voice of authenticity.

Agreed. I think he'd get a lot of credibility back for me if he stopped talking about himself and his lifestyle/businesses, and instead did more Case Studies and focused on things that are working for other people, or coaching other people to do better in their journey to FIRE.

I mean... don't even get me started on that building he bought in his town, renovated, and basically created a Mustache-Bro Country Club (Sorry... MMM HQ?). None of the expenses of the Mustache-Bro Country Club are included in his personal expenses, because the Mustache-Bro Country Club is it's own separate entity, where the Bros can get together and brew beer, drink beer, play with tools, work on projects, work out, socialize, have parties. The Mustache Bro Country Club was bought and renovated with loose change that Pete found in between his couch cushions. Does the Mustache Bro Country Club run a profit? No. It's operated on a non profit basis. Does it break even? Who could say... its financials are never disclosed. And yet it manages to suck up all of Pete's hobby expenses. Like magic, they disappear from his personal budget.

Too bad you don't own a "non profit" Mustache Bro Country Club. You lowly peasants will need to have a budget line item for entertainment in your retirement budget.

I guess I got started after all.

Hmm...I hadn't heard about Country Club. Where do I find more information about it?

https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2017/08/02/introducing-the-mmm-world-headquarters-building/
https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2018/09/05/what-really-goes-on-at-mmm-headquarters/
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: John Galt incarnate! on June 24, 2020, 11:53:07 AM
I'm not sure if it's MMM's - since I 'outgrew' the blog years ago., but...
I disagree with the zealot environmentalism some have/portray.

Am I the scourge of the environment and  bane of humanity if sometimes I burn brush  instead of  dragging it away to a pile where it rots?
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on June 24, 2020, 11:57:12 AM
I'm not sure if it's MMM's - since I 'outgrew' the blog years ago., but...
I disagree with the zealot environmentalism some have/portray.

Am I the scourge of the environment and  bane of humanity if sometimes I burn brush  instead of  dragging it away to a pile where it rots?

no.  The issue with burning brush is the temporary release of particulates into the air, which is bad from a human health standpoint more than anything, and negligible if you follow good burn procedures and you aren't in a densely populated area.  but from a carbon-release standpoint, decaying brush and burned brush are essentially equivalent over a very short time period (a couple of years).  Sequestering that carbon would be best, but it's extremely hard to do on an individual scale - carbon cycling (the decaying of organic material and re-introduction into the ecoystem) is just so efficient.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: RWD on June 24, 2020, 11:58:43 AM
- I don't like the concept of being overly judgmental about others' purchases. E.g. "clown cars." I think it should suffice to say that you should only buy what truly gives you value and leave it at that. MMM can be a little parochial/evangelical in this regard. You can think that someone else's purchase is unlikely to be financially wise without getting super judgmental about it.
Agreed. I will not give up cars.

Also, I feel there is a big difference in both mentality and financial impact between an enthusiast who buys slowly depreciating classic/rare vehicles and keeps them for a long time and someone who just leases the newest BMW every two years without doing any math farther than looking at monthly payments. MMM himself said that he once lusted after an Acura NSX but if he had actually bought one it would have been a minimal impact (or maybe even benefit) to his finances because they have appreciated so much in value.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Cassie on June 24, 2020, 12:07:48 PM
Like others here I am bothered by the lack of insurance recommendations, not disclosing all expenses, no pets, 1 kid and bike instead of drive. I just lost my 6th healthy friend to cancer. All were between 59-67 living very healthy lifestyles. However, the movement does help educate people to save for the future. I think that young people that thin fire in their 30ís will probably regret it.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: MilesTeg on June 24, 2020, 12:10:26 PM
I thought it would be fun to have a contrarian topic

I'll start.
- I don't like the concept of being overly judgmental about others' purchases. E.g. "clown cars." I think it should suffice to say that you should only buy what truly gives you value and leave it at that. MMM can be a little parochial/evangelical in this regard. You can think that someone else's purchase is unlikely to be financially wise without getting super judgmental about it.

- I don't like the term "FU Money". Again, it seems to be seeking conflict where there may not be any. I approve of the concept of knowing your value and just leaving if you're not getting paid it, but you can leave a company on perfectly good terms even if the company isn't being great to you (in fact learning not to burn bridges is part of adult life), and therefore the "FU" part in it again, seems needlessly aggressive. Even the idea of saying "FU" to your company when you finally hit FIRE is something that I don't find appealing because I see work and FIRE as a journey not a destination, so you should not be letting things get to the "FU" stage. (Or seeing your boss as an adversary.)

I know you don't get hits without being memorable in a way but I think those parts of the philosophy can cause an "us vs them" approach that isn't really needed.

How about you?

In general, MMMs advice about cars, beyond buying only what you need, ranges from ridiculous to downright dangerous.

No, MMM, just because a vehicle has enough horsepower to get a towed load going does not mean it's a good idea. Never exceed the rated towing capacity for a vehicle, and be skeptical of any sub compact, like a scion, that claims it can tow _anything_ safely.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: ChickenStash on June 24, 2020, 12:38:25 PM
- I don't like the concept of being overly judgmental about others' purchases. E.g. "clown cars." I think it should suffice to say that you should only buy what truly gives you value and leave it at that. MMM can be a little parochial/evangelical in this regard. You can think that someone else's purchase is unlikely to be financially wise without getting super judgmental about it.
Agreed. I will not give up cars.

Also, I feel there is a big difference in both mentality and financial impact between an enthusiast who buys slowly depreciating classic/rare vehicles and keeps them for a long time and someone who just leases the newest BMW every two years without doing any math farther than looking at monthly payments. MMM himself said that he once lusted after an Acura NSX but if he had actually bought one it would have been a minimal impact (or maybe even benefit) to his finances because they have appreciated so much in value.

Same. The almost militant anti-car stance in the blogs and the in the forum is one of a few places that I diverge. Much like my retirement accounts, I'm a "buy and hold" car owner so I keep them all for decades and can do my own work for most repairs on my toy car and my daily driver. They are my primary hobby and I budget for them accordingly.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: MilesTeg on June 24, 2020, 12:46:12 PM
In his Jan 27 blog post, he says he neither has home owner's insurance nor health insurance. His reasoning: insurance is for suckas who don't understand statistics (not a direct quote).

This is a direct quote though: "I also still like the old-school advice of ďdonít buy stuff that you canít afford to lose, and take really good care of the stuff that you do have.Ē"

So if you take care of your house, a tornado won't hit it. But if it does, and you care, then it's because you bought a house you couldn't afford to lose. Statistically, it may be unlikely that your house burns down or a tornado hits it, but it happens to people every single year. And for most people trying to FIRE, they aren't budgeting in "burned down house and no insurance to replace it." That would be financially ruinous for most people.

On the health side, he says he works out anywhere between 1-8 hours a day and eats healthy, so he's never had a health problem. He also credits genetics. But we all know that healthy living and genetics don't stop you from having a bike accident when you bike everywhere, right? And for most people, salads and barbells are not going to stop them from getting cancer. Being generally healthy and having no insurance does tend to make people skip annual visits to the doctor to check for sneaky underlying conditions that are not immediately obvious, though. In any case, when a hospital stay in the USA can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and a cancer diagnosis can cost millions, most FIRE'ing individuals can't really risk being uninsured.

But his underlying message is that if they get sick, it's because they didn't take good enough care of themselves.

I had a friend who was hospitalized with COVID and their pre insurance bills were in the six figures. MMM doesn't care about COVID (March 3 blog post) or health insurance, because he thinks it's statistically unlikely that he's going to be affected by it.

I feel like his huge wealth has caused him to lose touch with real humans and start taking on risks that are clearly inappropriate for 99% of the population, and potentially devastating to his actual followers, who are trying to retire early on a fixed budget.

Wow, that's downright insane. I can get behind no life insurance, but going without health insurance is guano loco for anyone that doesn't have several million excess sitting around.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: FINate on June 24, 2020, 12:52:32 PM
...which I suspect may be a source of cognitive dissonance for Pete: He doesn't need such insurance due to his high level personal wealth (he's essentially extreme fat-FIRE), yet his blog advocates thin-FIRE. Transparency and honesty is the remedy, albeit with some loss of authority on the practical realities of thin-FIRE. This is where things like guest contributors who are truly thin-FIRE could add a voice of authenticity.

Agreed. I think he'd get a lot of credibility back for me if he stopped talking about himself and his lifestyle/businesses, and instead did more Case Studies and focused on things that are working for other people, or coaching other people to do better in their journey to FIRE.

I mean... don't even get me started on that building he bought in his town, renovated, and basically created a Mustache-Bro Country Club (Sorry... MMM HQ?). None of the expenses of the Mustache-Bro Country Club are included in his personal expenses, because the Mustache-Bro Country Club is it's own separate entity, where the Bros can get together and brew beer, drink beer, play with tools, work on projects, work out, socialize, have parties. The Mustache Bro Country Club was bought and renovated with loose change that Pete found in between his couch cushions. Does the Mustache Bro Country Club run a profit? No. It's operated on a non profit basis. Does it break even? Who could say... its financials are never disclosed. And yet it manages to suck up all of Pete's hobby expenses. Like magic, they disappear from his personal budget.

Too bad you don't own a "non profit" Mustache Bro Country Club. You lowly peasants will need to have a budget line item for entertainment in your retirement budget.

I guess I got started after all.

Hmm...I hadn't heard about Country Club. Where do I find more information about it?

https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2017/08/02/introducing-the-mmm-world-headquarters-building/
https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2018/09/05/what-really-goes-on-at-mmm-headquarters/

Thanks for the links!

Yeah, seems a bit like "rules for thee, not me." It's good that he got a great deal on the building and did most of the rehab DIY with repurposed materials where possible. However, most people aren't going to have $230k + cost of renovation to drop on a non-profit club. In other words, $2500/month may cover expenses, but it doesn't account for the opportunity cost of the initial investment. This is within the domain of privilege conferred by an elite level of wealth. I don't begrudge his ability to do so, and am genuinely happy for him as it seems like a great community hub. But it's disconnected from the thin-FIRE gist of the overall blog which is confusing, perhaps even disingenuous.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: ketchup on June 24, 2020, 12:54:04 PM
I agree with a lot of what's been said so far.  I do think "clown car" "face punches" and being overly judgey are the MMM character more than Pete himself.  That's just his way of getting the points across.  That said:

He acts like kids are the bestest most fulfilling thing ever, but pets are a no-go.  I have the opposite view.  Getting snipped childless at 26 was one of my best decisions.

I'm pretty extreme by most people's standard on the minimal-insurance spectrum (SO MANY people pay $10/mo for smartphone insurance with a $200 deductible.  What even.), but even I wouldn't pretend no home or health insurance was a reasonable move for just about anyone.

Overly preaching MVNOs gets a bit old (especially when they aren't even great ones..).  For some people, not running the risk of being throttled and being able to rely on all possible coverage options actually matters.  For plenty it doesn't, but it's hardly a "anyone who pays full price is a sucker" situation.

His car advice is an interesting one.  He seems more willing to spend on cars (purchase price) than I am, yet he drives way less than I do.  I still stand by my rough "spend about a paycheck" on a car stance.  I don't understand why you'd spend five figures on a car if you only drive a couple thousand miles a year.  Get a 20 year old Corolla, or rent when you need it.

I like that he pushes salads and barbells, but to pretend that cures all health ills is just silly.  Everyone should eat salads and lift barbells, but that won't stop them from getting cancer (may lower risk sure, but does not eliminate it), or getting COVID, or getting hit by a bus.

I do agree with the bulk of what he says.  I'm here, after all.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: MrThatsDifferent on June 24, 2020, 01:33:45 PM
Man changed my life! I donít disagree with any of his approach because itís the way he wants to live his life and his opinion on things. Like any opinion, I take what works for me and leave the rest. I happen to agree with most of his perspectives but I donít have the will or desire to emulate, and thatís ok. His thinking challenged my own and what I thought I needed or wanted. Heís one of the few people that has actually had a profound influence on my life as an adult because I simply did not get personal finance before. Heís out here living his literal best life, while truly caring about the world around him and the people in it. Thatís admirable to me. Heís backed it up with actions, not complaining on someoneís forum.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: kite on June 24, 2020, 02:01:42 PM
Iíve got very little disagreement with MMMís approach.
However, I do have a dog.  And I think there is a big blind spot in much of the FIRE community on the costs of disability and long term care.  I surpassed the net-worth point at which a 4% withdraw rate should cover our living expenses indefinitely.  And this only holds if neither of us need skilled nursing care for an extended period of time.  I can live on less than $30k annually.  But that only buys about 3 months of nursing home care and could wipe us out.  With relatives living into their 90ís and spending 5+ years of that time with dementia, others having hip fractures, amputations and other extreme disabilities, I see the point when biking to Costco is just not viable.  I think I read that something like 60% of us will spend a portion of our dotage with a disability.  Even if you are fortunate enough to have a loved one to rely on for practical assistance, there is plenty of help that will need to be funded.  The bill for my Aunt was nearly $900k for her nursing home for the entire time she was there.  If I had to shell that out for myself, it would leave so much less for my spouse, for example. 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: sixwings on June 24, 2020, 02:10:21 PM
I recall a blog post somewhere where he talked about canola oil being a great snack and that he just takes a swig when he's hungry and it's a snack that costs like $0.01. Nope nope nope.

There's a difference between frugal and cheap. Having canola oil as your snack of choice because of the cost is just cheap.

But other than small quirks like that I think the general message is quite positive and strong. 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: slappy on June 24, 2020, 02:12:09 PM
I recall a blog post somewhere where he talked about canola oil being a great snack and that he just takes a swig when he's hungry and it's a snack that costs like $0.01. Nope nope nope.

There's a difference between frugal and cheap. Having canola oil as your snack of choice because of the cost is just cheap.

I think that was olive oil.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: thesis on June 24, 2020, 02:38:36 PM
Sometimes I forget the blog exists. I have the forum bookmarked.

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the divorce yet. It's not a knock on frugality itself, but it would seem there is still much more to life than simply finances. Granted, it's a personal finance blog, so what did I expect, but if anything, it's a reminder to me that finance only goes so far. I can appreciate, though, that not having to worry about finances probably makes those other issues in life easier to deal with.

I also don't share Pete's enthusiasm. I find it somewhat dangerous, cynical as I am :-). Though I can admire it from time to time
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: FINate on June 24, 2020, 03:12:45 PM
Heís out here living his literal best life, while truly caring about the world around him and the people in it. Thatís admirable to me. Heís backed it up with actions, not complaining on someoneís forum.

Taking action to care for the world and complaining on a forum are not mutually exclusive. People can do both, and my basic assumption here is that most forum members are, in general, doing what they can to make the world a better place.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: undercover on June 24, 2020, 04:03:43 PM
The blog is a product. Pete is a lifestyle salesman and plenty of people buy it and love it.

If anyone wanted to retire early, all they need to do is read ďthe shockingly simple mathĒ and then raise income and lower expenses accordingly based on how fast you want to retire.

Itís not that complicated.

I personally am not concerned about the environment like the blog is. Iím not wasteful, but if I want something Iím going to get it. Money is for using. I also believe in helping people. Balance in everything.

For me being frugal is rewarding and blah blah blah but I donít do it primarily because Iím super concerned with the planet, I do it because to waste money when you could invest it in order to afford a better lifestyle comfortably in the future is smarter. And of course that has to be balanced because the future isnít guaranteed.

I will say if I had millions in the bank and a $400k blog income then I wouldnít be thinking twice about buying something I really wanted aka a Tesla. Itís kind of annoying how he agonizes about buying something he wants publicly when there is literally no reason he couldnít do it. The only reason Iíd say he doesnít is so that he can continue making peak money from the blog because heíd probably be at risk of being called a phony for living a different lifestyle than he recommends.

But yeah...there are millions of way to live your life. A divorce and kid has costed him a ton of money and a spouse/kids is not something everyone wants but you also need fulfillment in other ways so your spending is going to look different.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: soccerluvof4 on June 24, 2020, 04:07:37 PM
One of the few forums I read every comment and i can't disagree really with what anyone said, not that that was my goal.

 There are for sure some oddities or extremes, exaggerations, maybe a little arrogance, and some risks I wouldn't take for sure and I liked the earlier days and posts more and don't even open the new ones because I dont want to hear about the newest gadget he is promoting for various reasons.

Having said that though what it did lead to is me finding a course that I could live by and much more with the help of "Veterans" and even some "Newbies" to the forum that are a hell of a lot smarter than me. So as some others have mentioned I just pick and chose what i want to read and believe what I want and so on. So for that I am grateful as I am sure most everyone else here is as well.

I don't remember who said it on this thread and don't want to hunt it down BUT they said something like " What I learned was to look at how I am going to spend my money a little more carefully" and I think end of the day that's what I have done as well as how to invest it.

Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Bloop Bloop on June 24, 2020, 04:27:40 PM

I'll start.
- I don't like the concept of being overly judgmental about others' purchases. E.g. "clown cars." I think it should suffice to say that you should only buy what truly gives you value and leave it at that. MMM can be a little parochial/evangelical in this regard. You can think that someone else's purchase is unlikely to be financially wise without getting super judgmental about it.


Here's the thing about face-punches, "clown-cars" and the overal judgemental portion of this forum:  "In the beginning" the message was about individuals looking at their own lives and giving themselves face-punches. It's been about recognizing your own financially stupid decisions, recognizing them and taking responsibility for them.  Personal accountability, not exterior enforcement.

Somewhere along the line it became de vogue for members to issue face-punches to others, to call them out for wasteful spending, even when they weren't askinbg for feedback (e.g. with a 'case study').  It's made for some nasty threads and turned a lot of people away, and a few have been banned.  It even violates two of the forum rules (#1: don't be a jerk, and #4: Be respectful...of other members). Re-reading the original blog posts it's clear that a face-punch is something you give yourself -- a way of acknowledging your past mistakes.  In retrospect I think the metaphor could have been more constructive if it didn't have such a violent connotation to it.  Instead of a 'face-punch" encourage users to dance the jig of financial stupidity (or whatever -- just an example).  But 'Face-Punch" is succinct and powerful - probably why Pete used it in the first place.


I'll even fess up to issuing some unwarranted face punches myself (and by "unwarranted" I mean giving them to people why they weren't explicitly asking for others to examine their finances).  It took another long-term poster - @Nords - to make me rethink and reread what the message and the metaphors were all about in the first place.

Part of the shift could be attributed to the shift in the forum members itself.  We're bigger and far more diverse than before.  In the first couple of years it was largely a bunch of left-brained North Americans that spent a great deal of time running mathmatical calculations to optimize everything.  Now it's far more diverse (good!) but the math has to a major degree been replaced with emotion, and that has been often supplied wtih vigor and (sometimes) judgemental connotations from other, more frugal members.

I'll try to respond to some of the many other insightful posts but this one leapt out at me.

I agree with the concept of stringent (and honest) self-examination, so in that sense I guess face-punching yourself would work. But as you say, it's often unnecessary to pass that judgment onto others. It may be rational for you or me to forego the SUV or the fancy house or whatever. But others may have a good reason to want those things. Unless they're posting a case study saying "my wife and I got into debt because we just bought a brand new Escalade on finance", you don't know their situation or their goals.

More to the point I'm not sure that it's ever beneficial to judge other people (negatively) when you don't know their full situation. That is the thing that turns me off the Face Punch, Clown Car concept. Sure, if it's limited to introspection, then that's fine, but that's not how I've seen it come across.

So even though I agree from a financial perspective on most of what MMM advocates, I think it's dangerous to embrace the judgmental, "you're right or you're wrong" side of the MMM ethos. You can judge your own actions and desires and wants but, unless you know a lot about another's situation, judging others can lead to superiority on one hand, or envy on the other, and isn't likely to help your own FI journey at all.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: js82 on June 24, 2020, 04:35:07 PM
There are things that MMM has stated/posted that sometimes contradict each other.

First, there's the high-level statement: it's not really about any one purchase, it's about taking a step back and figuring out what you really value(and what will bring you happiness) - how do you value time versus money, and certain things you can acquire with said money.  I like this philosophy.  Inherent in this statement is an element of individuality - it's tied to your own personal system of values, and what's "worth it" to me may not be the same as what's "worth it" to you.   By this line of thought, no purchases are intrinsically bad, other than the ones that conflict with your personal values, because you didn't take the time to think them through.

The above argument/philosophy is hard to reconcile with many of the instances of judging others' purchases on the blog and in these forums(and granted, I've been guilty of it too).  I can say that I wouldn't personally do something in a given situation, but without knowing someone else's values it's not as easy to say that they made a bad decision for themselves.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: OtherJen on June 24, 2020, 04:44:48 PM
I don't remember who said it on this thread and don't want to hunt it down BUT they said something like " What I learned was to look at how I am going to spend my money a little more carefully" and I think end of the day that's what I have done as well as how to invest it.

For sure, thatís been the most valuable takeaway Iíve gotten from both the blog and forum.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: FarFetchd on June 24, 2020, 09:42:24 PM
I'm more with MMM than against on pretty much everything everyone has mentioned so far in this thread. I do think that he's a little more glib than necessary with some of the health stuff, but that's an unsurprising side effect of the rest of his views, which are a huge net positive given mainstream consumerism - the largest net positive I'm aware of, really. Well, ok, no regular dentist visits is a little horrifying, lol.

However, there is one thing I do have a huge issue with, and that's the house of cards 4% rule. He's not the only one pushing it, so he doesn't deserve all the blame, but he has so much reach that he has to be held to high standards. With the decade long bull market, and the creeping up of CAPE, this is getting more urgent: while it turned out that anyone who FIREd relying on 4% within a year or two of MMM's 4% posts was perfectly fine, the past couple of years are much more dangerous. I really wish he would realize it, and publish an updated withdrawal rate article.

I'm new to the forums, and I wouldn't be surprised if this has been the subject of many megathreads, so rather than going into the case against 4% in my own words, I'll just say: check out EarlyRetirementNow's Safe Withdrawal Rate series.

On the bright side, it's nice that my problem with MMM is neatly contained to one subject. If I'm getting someone into FIRE, I can tell them MMM is all they need for the lifestyle philosophy stuff, but to completely ignore all of his financial advice, and instead go to EarlyRetirementNow. Still doesn't make for a great pitch to tell someone about this font of life changing wonderful advice, and then add the caveat that the financial side is dangerously overoptimistic, though.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Goldielocks on June 24, 2020, 10:00:02 PM
...which I suspect may be a source of cognitive dissonance for Pete: He doesn't need such insurance due to his high level personal wealth (he's essentially extreme fat-FIRE), yet his blog advocates thin-FIRE. Transparency and honesty is the remedy, albeit with some loss of authority on the practical realities of thin-FIRE. This is where things like guest contributors who are truly thin-FIRE could add a voice of authenticity.

Agreed. I think he'd get a lot of credibility back for me if he stopped talking about himself and his lifestyle/businesses, and instead did more Case Studies and focused on things that are working for other people, or coaching other people to do better in their journey to FIRE.

I mean... don't even get me started on that building he bought in his town, renovated, and basically created a Mustache-Bro Country Club (Sorry... MMM HQ?). None of the expenses of the Mustache-Bro Country Club are included in his personal expenses, because the Mustache-Bro Country Club is it's own separate entity, where the Bros can get together and brew beer, drink beer, play with tools, work on projects, work out, socialize, have parties. The Mustache Bro Country Club was bought and renovated with loose change that Pete found in between his couch cushions. Does the Mustache Bro Country Club run a profit? No. It's operated on a non profit basis. Does it break even? Who could say... its financials are never disclosed. And yet it manages to suck up all of Pete's hobby expenses. Like magic, they disappear from his personal budget.

Too bad you don't own a "non profit" Mustache Bro Country Club. You lowly peasants will need to have a budget line item for entertainment in your retirement budget.

I guess I got started after all.
Hah,  This is what I thought the year he had the house building expenses included.   If I recall, he excluded all expenses related to the house from personal expenses.

From my own personal experience, building a house and the associated costs take all your money for tools and materials, and takes all your hobby time, too.   Of course your personal expenses are low.

That year he also had less than $600 for fuel.  Even if they were using the construction van to group errands with house building errands, that was stunningly low for a family of 3.   So, I realized that there was still a whole lot of truth in the accounting.
------------------------------
My peeve is his personal use of marijuana.     That's it...  and it is a personal issue, not a MMM issue.

 I did not see the lack of insurance on the 2019 finances, but I have pretty much stopped reading the blog posts.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: SimpleCycle on June 24, 2020, 11:01:02 PM
Most of my differences have already been covered.  Insurance is the main one.  I personally have gotten a lot of value out of the more nuanced discussions of insurance on the forums.  SS survivors benefits arenít ever mentioned on the blog, because the need for life insurance is dismissed entirely.

I find the arrogance about health and disability extremely off putting.  I have had a serious medical condition since my teens that canít be cured by lifestyle choices.  Itís bad enough to have your life choices limited by your health without the shame and blame heaped on by people who think you just need more salads and barbells.

I disagree with the idea that you should only engage in charitable giving once you are FI.  Pete doesnít preach that specifically, but he references that he didnít give much to charity until 2016 (well after heíd reached FI and was making mid-six figures from the blog) and that is certainly an interpretation I see frequently on the forums.

Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Missy B on June 24, 2020, 11:46:57 PM
This week I visited the blog in the first time in ages. I forgot there was even a MMM blog/site and that the MMM forums existed as a standalone entity.  I find the forum much more useful on a day to day basis and once in a blue moon, visit the blog as a foundational reminder.  But I find that the blog doesn't really speak to me nowadays. 

I think it is a privilege to be cavalier about health insurance in the USA, especially when your purported online income is over 400K annually.  Those of us without that level and type of income probably should stick to health insurance.

He probably still has Canadian citizenship, which gives him the right to move back to Canada and get free treatment should he develop an expensive condition. There is still the risk of accident, but he is not risking having to pay out of pocket for cancer treatments or something. That makes it much safer not to have insurance, and not mentioning his safety net makes that post even more irresponsible.

I generally like the blog with the environment angle and the facepunches, clown cars, etc., but that article gave me pause about recommending the site to others.

Yeah, I've wondered if his being Canadian informs his attitude towards insurance.
Having said that, it isn't perfectly straightforward to get health coverage if you have not been resident in a province for at least 6 months. BC has eliminated the monthly health premiums, but you used to have to pay them and be resident.
I remember a former client of mine who moved to Washington state to be with a new partner. He had no insurance, and she was too cheap to continue to make payments (also would need to send her mail to a friend's place to look like she was still resident).
Those monthly amounts at the time were about $55 a month for a single person. She needed a Dr referral for something, and the Dr wanted $100 (private rate) because she had no coverage so she decided I must have what she needed in my records (I didn't). It was all I could do not to tell her that it was towering idiocy to give up primary care for $55 a month when you live just across the border.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Missy B on June 25, 2020, 12:13:34 AM
Continuing on the topic of insurance and health care, where I disagree with MMM's approach is that he has never used his massive platform to reveal to Americans the power of universal medicare to facilitate FI for the citizens in the countries that have it.
The for-profit health system is massively profitable to large corps, which is why they and their political handmaidens are so busy flat lying to Americans about how our Canadian system works and what it actually costs.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on June 25, 2020, 04:11:09 AM

However, there is one thing I do have a huge issue with, and that's the house of cards 4% rule. He's not the only one pushing it, so he doesn't deserve all the blame, but he has so much reach that he has to be held to high standards. With the decade long bull market, and the creeping up of CAPE, this is getting more urgent: while it turned out that anyone who FIREd relying on 4% within a year or two of MMM's 4% posts was perfectly fine, the past couple of years are much more dangerous. I really wish he would realize it, and publish an updated withdrawal rate article.

I'm new to the forums, and I wouldn't be surprised if this has been the subject of many megathreads...

This has been discussed extensively. There is even a sticky on the 4% ďruleĒ plus dozens of parts on CAPE, past and current valuations, SORR and the like.
The bottom line is that no one should blindly follow a 4% strategy, and in reality no one does. That said, your underlying assumption that a 4% WR is ďdangerousĒ today is both a misunderstanding of what Pete ( and others) are suggesting and not well supported by historical or impartial analysis
Please
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Khaetra on June 25, 2020, 05:45:27 AM
Iíve got very little disagreement with MMMís approach.
However, I do have a dog.  And I think there is a big blind spot in much of the FIRE community on the costs of disability and long term care.  I surpassed the net-worth point at which a 4% withdraw rate should cover our living expenses indefinitely.  And this only holds if neither of us need skilled nursing care for an extended period of time.  I can live on less than $30k annually.  But that only buys about 3 months of nursing home care and could wipe us out.  With relatives living into their 90ís and spending 5+ years of that time with dementia, others having hip fractures, amputations and other extreme disabilities, I see the point when biking to Costco is just not viable.  I think I read that something like 60% of us will spend a portion of our dotage with a disability.  Even if you are fortunate enough to have a loved one to rely on for practical assistance, there is plenty of help that will need to be funded.  The bill for my Aunt was nearly $900k for her nursing home for the entire time she was there.  If I had to shell that out for myself, it would leave so much less for my spouse, for example.

I would never go without insurance.  All it would take is one catastrophic incident to wipe everything out and having seen that happen to a friend cements my decision.

I disagree with him on a few other areas, like biking everywhere, cheap phone plans, no pets.  While the overall message of not buying/having things you don't need is good, I have a number of things that would be 'face punch' worthy to him but they bring me a lot of happiness and that's what matters.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Laura33 on June 25, 2020, 07:33:31 AM
There are things that MMM has stated/posted that sometimes contradict each other.

First, there's the high-level statement: it's not really about any one purchase, it's about taking a step back and figuring out what you really value(and what will bring you happiness) - how do you value time versus money, and certain things you can acquire with said money.  I like this philosophy.  Inherent in this statement is an element of individuality - it's tied to your own personal system of values, and what's "worth it" to me may not be the same as what's "worth it" to you.   By this line of thought, no purchases are intrinsically bad, other than the ones that conflict with your personal values, because you didn't take the time to think them through.

The above argument/philosophy is hard to reconcile with many of the instances of judging others' purchases on the blog and in these forums(and granted, I've been guilty of it too).  I can say that I wouldn't personally do something in a given situation, but without knowing someone else's values it's not as easy to say that they made a bad decision for themselves.

I think the connection that is missing here is that people are total crap at figuring out what actually makes them happy.  Every single person who goes out and buys a luxury item does so because they think it's "worth it" to them for one reason or another.  But then that happiness/excitement fades, and so you need to buy another new thing to keep the buzz going, and next thing you know you're on the hedonic treadmill.

That's why MMM focuses on stoicism and anti-consumerism.  His message is most assuredly not "buy whatever you want as long as you've done the analysis and concluded that it's worth the cost."  It is much more about doing for yourself, really challenging what you think you need, and developing a life that does not rely on material things to bring happiness -- or even comfort.

Which is also why I've never considered myself a true Mustachian, because I want waaaaay too soft a lifestyle. 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: PoutineLover on June 25, 2020, 08:19:09 AM
I think everyone reading any advice should keep an open mind and stay skeptical in order to process the information without falling for it completely. I really enjoy the main points of the blog, like spending less than you earn, investing, environmental stewardship, being active and driving less. However, not every single thing he says is applicable to my life, and I'm not trying to copy him in every aspect. I ride my bike, drive an old car, minimize expenses on useless shit and shop around for better rates when I can. But I also have an expensive phone plan, belong to a social club, fly for vacations, have a pet and plan to have more than one kid. If you compromise on your own life satisfaction to please any blogger, you're an idiot. The point is to make the best decisions for your own life that lead to fulfilling your own personal goals (and least harm to the planet/society), everything else is just details and examples of other people's choices.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: spartana on June 25, 2020, 09:11:50 AM
I do find it interesting how many people gravitate toward "following." I think this is fundamentally counter to MMM's ethos.

I agree.

Following  a path blazed by others may be suitable but doing so is only  advisable after  searching,  critical self-examination.
Some of us we're already FI and RE before finding MMM and were looking for kindred spirits. Especially younger retirees who espoused minimalisim, environmentalism, and anti-consumerism as well as FI and RE. Most sites were focused on high incomes, big finances and not lower end lifestyles. Original "pre-blog moolah" MMM was different. He was basicly just this regular working dude who figured out if he didn't spend all his money on all the shiny things he could retire young , do fun stuff he enjoyed,  reduce his environmental impact, and live a much more fulfilling existence.  Period. He didn't blog about it (or earn money from it) until years after he FIREd. So while I don't agree with all of his posts, I did (and still do) see his site as a beacon for even the low income early retiree when you look at his life pre-blog income .

Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: MilesTeg on June 25, 2020, 09:54:29 AM
I think the connection that is missing here is that people are total crap at figuring out what actually makes them happy.  Every single person who goes out and buys a luxury item does so because they think it's "worth it" to them for one reason or another.  But then that happiness/excitement fades, and so you need to buy another new thing to keep the buzz going, and next thing you know you're on the hedonic treadmill.

Sorry, nope. I wont claim every fancy thing I've ever purchased has been worth it but most have. Fancy cars, fancy computing devices, etc.

I've regretted far more 'reasonable ' purchases than what most here would call 'unreasonable' purchases.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: sherr on June 25, 2020, 11:24:04 AM
I will say if I had millions in the bank and a $400k blog income then I wouldnít be thinking twice about buying something I really wanted aka a Tesla. Itís kind of annoying how he agonizes about buying something he wants publicly when there is literally no reason he couldnít do it. The only reason Iíd say he doesnít is so that he can continue making peak money from the blog because heíd probably be at risk of being called a phony for living a different lifestyle than he recommends.

I don't think this is fair to MMM because there's another (I think far larger) reason that you haven't considered: that he thinks he's supposed to live as an "example". That people look up to him to see what's possible. It's not just about being called phony or better monetizing the blog.

You see this same kind of thing in similar professions like pastor. It's actually a high-stress environment, because people (unfairly) assume that you're perfect. And then when evidence comes out that you're not, the people you care about and have been trying to help can end up very hurt.

So no I don't think he agonizes about things like Teslas simply because he's a showman, I think he's trying to consider how his actions would affect the whole movement. But I agree with everyone else that I wish he'd consider that a little harder for things like health insurance...
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: kite on June 25, 2020, 12:17:02 PM
Sometimes I forget the blog exists. I have the forum bookmarked.

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the divorce yet. It's not a knock on frugality itself, but it would seem there is still much more to life than simply finances. Granted, it's a personal finance blog, so what did I expect, but if anything, it's a reminder to me that finance only goes so far. I can appreciate, though, that not having to worry about finances probably makes those other issues in life easier to deal with.

I also don't share Pete's enthusiasm. I find it somewhat dangerous, cynical as I am :-). Though I can admire it from time to time

Canít think of why it would be mentioned.  Is divorce an approach to agree/disagree with? 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: LWYRUP on June 25, 2020, 12:22:03 PM
Sometimes I forget the blog exists. I have the forum bookmarked.

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the divorce yet. It's not a knock on frugality itself, but it would seem there is still much more to life than simply finances. Granted, it's a personal finance blog, so what did I expect, but if anything, it's a reminder to me that finance only goes so far. I can appreciate, though, that not having to worry about finances probably makes those other issues in life easier to deal with.

I also don't share Pete's enthusiasm. I find it somewhat dangerous, cynical as I am :-). Though I can admire it from time to time

Canít think of why it would be mentioned.  Is divorce an approach to agree/disagree with?

I think it's personal, and off limits.  That's why it's not mentioned.  That's fair to me. 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: slappy on June 25, 2020, 12:26:28 PM
Sometimes I forget the blog exists. I have the forum bookmarked.

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the divorce yet. It's not a knock on frugality itself, but it would seem there is still much more to life than simply finances. Granted, it's a personal finance blog, so what did I expect, but if anything, it's a reminder to me that finance only goes so far. I can appreciate, though, that not having to worry about finances probably makes those other issues in life easier to deal with.

I also don't share Pete's enthusiasm. I find it somewhat dangerous, cynical as I am :-). Though I can admire it from time to time

Canít think of why it would be mentioned.  Is divorce an approach to agree/disagree with?

Based on what I've read, some people seem to think that he may have gotten divorced because his lifestyle is too "extreme" for the average person (his wife). There was lots of chatter about it when first happened with people feeling that his frugality may have played a part. People get divorced all the time, and money is often cited as a stress factor for a marriage, so I'm not sure what it matters overall. I can think of a couple of other FIRE bloggers who are also divorced, and I'm not sure if people hold it against them.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: stoaX on June 25, 2020, 12:43:24 PM
On the serious side I agree with many previous posters that going without health insurance in the USA is a bad idea.

On a less serious note, I had to disagree with MMM's post many years ago about cleaning products breaking the budget.  Cleaning is one of my hobbies and brings me great satisfaction.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: ketchup on June 25, 2020, 12:52:58 PM
On a less serious note, I had to disagree with MMM's post many years ago about cleaning products breaking the budget.  Cleaning is one of my hobbies and brings me great satisfaction.
This one I don't quite get.  One gallon of Odoban costs twelve bucks and dilutes down to enough household cleaner to last something like a year for us, and we have nine dogs in the house. Knockoff Magic Erasers cost eight bucks for 50 on Amazon, and that'll last all year too.  Throw in some laundry detergent and I think that's our "cleaning" budget for a year.

Surely for someone more sane, they would go ever farther.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: bluebelle on June 25, 2020, 01:12:04 PM

Which is also why I've never considered myself a true Mustachian, because I want waaaaay too soft a lifestyle.
this is me..........we live way beneath our means, but we still spend much more than we 'need' to, and I'm okay with that.   
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: kite on June 25, 2020, 01:13:52 PM
Sometimes I forget the blog exists. I have the forum bookmarked.

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the divorce yet. It's not a knock on frugality itself, but it would seem there is still much more to life than simply finances. Granted, it's a personal finance blog, so what did I expect, but if anything, it's a reminder to me that finance only goes so far. I can appreciate, though, that not having to worry about finances probably makes those other issues in life easier to deal with.

I also don't share Pete's enthusiasm. I find it somewhat dangerous, cynical as I am :-). Though I can admire it from time to time

Canít think of why it would be mentioned.  Is divorce an approach to agree/disagree with?

Based on what I've read, some people seem to think that he may have gotten divorced because his lifestyle is too "extreme" for the average person (his wife). There was lots of chatter about it when first happened with people feeling that his frugality may have played a part. People get divorced all the time, and money is often cited as a stress factor for a marriage, so I'm not sure what it matters overall. I can think of a couple of other FIRE bloggers who are also divorced, and I'm not sure if people hold it against them.
Glad I missed that speculation.  Canít wrap my head around being so invested in why someone elseís relationship came to an end.  It makes sense if itís your own parents and it changes your daily life and where you live, then you are entitled to feelings and strong opinions.  But if itís not my marriage, itís not my place to even have a reason to Ďhold it against themí or to have any information.   
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: bluebelle on June 25, 2020, 01:16:23 PM
I recall a blog post somewhere where he talked about canola oil being a great snack and that he just takes a swig when he's hungry and it's a snack that costs like $0.01. Nope nope nope.

There's a difference between frugal and cheap. Having canola oil as your snack of choice because of the cost is just cheap.

I think that was olive oil.
This is were I really diverge from MMM.   I remember reading the blog where he was advocating adding OO to the diet just to get the appropriate number of calories......not my thing.   I don't live to eat, but I sure as heck don't want to just eat to live.   There is pleasure in a good meal.    If you're happy on rice and beans with a little oil added for calories, fine.....but that doesn't interest me.   And that's okay.   I don't get pleasure out of restaurants, but I won't judge people who think it's a treat to go out to eat.   As long as they're making a conscious decision to do so and they factor it into their budget.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: bluebelle on June 25, 2020, 01:19:42 PM
one other thing that I had a problem with was MMM's assertion that you don't need to shower daily, and clothes do need to be washed that often.   I have an office job, but I still think I need a daily shower.   And on the days I venture out in the summer - damn I may need two showers.   Even if I don't stink or have someone around me to tell me I stink, I don't like the sticky feeling of my skin after a good sweat while out for a walk.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Garrett B. on June 25, 2020, 01:22:43 PM
...which I suspect may be a source of cognitive dissonance for Pete: He doesn't need such insurance due to his high level personal wealth (he's essentially extreme fat-FIRE), yet his blog advocates thin-FIRE. Transparency and honesty is the remedy, albeit with some loss of authority on the practical realities of thin-FIRE. This is where things like guest contributors who are truly thin-FIRE could add a voice of authenticity.

Agreed. I think he'd get a lot of credibility back for me if he stopped talking about himself and his lifestyle/businesses, and instead did more Case Studies and focused on things that are working for other people, or coaching other people to do better in their journey to FIRE.

I mean... don't even get me started on that building he bought in his town, renovated, and basically created a Mustache-Bro Country Club (Sorry... MMM HQ?). None of the expenses of the Mustache-Bro Country Club are included in his personal expenses, because the Mustache-Bro Country Club is it's own separate entity, where the Bros can get together and brew beer, drink beer, play with tools, work on projects, work out, socialize, have parties. The Mustache Bro Country Club was bought and renovated with loose change that Pete found in between his couch cushions. Does the Mustache Bro Country Club run a profit? No. It's operated on a non profit basis. Does it break even? Who could say... its financials are never disclosed. And yet it manages to suck up all of Pete's hobby expenses. Like magic, they disappear from his personal budget.

Too bad you don't own a "non profit" Mustache Bro Country Club. You lowly peasants will need to have a budget line item for entertainment in your retirement budget.

I guess I got started after all.
Hah,  This is what I thought the year he had the house building expenses included.   If I recall, he excluded all expenses related to the house from personal expenses.

From my own personal experience, building a house and the associated costs take all your money for tools and materials, and takes all your hobby time, too.   Of course your personal expenses are low.

That year he also had less than $600 for fuel.  Even if they were using the construction van to group errands with house building errands, that was stunningly low for a family of 3.   So, I realized that there was still a whole lot of truth in the accounting.
------------------------------
My peeve is his personal use of marijuana.     That's it...  and it is a personal issue, not a MMM issue.

 I did not see the lack of insurance on the 2019 finances, but I have pretty much stopped reading the blog posts.

MMM is a marijuana user? 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: bluebelle on June 25, 2020, 01:25:47 PM

My peeve is his personal use of marijuana.     That's it...  and it is a personal issue, not a MMM issue.


MMM is a marijuana user?
as a side note - when is the US going to legalize it federally?  Isn't it legal in most states?   
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: sherr on June 25, 2020, 01:26:43 PM
My peeve is his personal use of marijuana.     That's it...  and it is a personal issue, not a MMM issue.

MMM is a marijuana user?

Yes. Colorado is a legal state, and he has said that he enjoys the occasional smoke just like he does the occasional beer.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Garrett B. on June 25, 2020, 01:28:11 PM
Sometimes I forget the blog exists. I have the forum bookmarked.

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the divorce yet. It's not a knock on frugality itself, but it would seem there is still much more to life than simply finances. Granted, it's a personal finance blog, so what did I expect, but if anything, it's a reminder to me that finance only goes so far. I can appreciate, though, that not having to worry about finances probably makes those other issues in life easier to deal with.

I also don't share Pete's enthusiasm. I find it somewhat dangerous, cynical as I am :-). Though I can admire it from time to time

Canít think of why it would be mentioned.  Is divorce an approach to agree/disagree with?

Based on what I've read, some people seem to think that he may have gotten divorced because his lifestyle is too "extreme" for the average person (his wife). There was lots of chatter about it when first happened with people feeling that his frugality may have played a part. People get divorced all the time, and money is often cited as a stress factor for a marriage, so I'm not sure what it matters overall. I can think of a couple of other FIRE bloggers who are also divorced, and I'm not sure if people hold it against them.
Pete clarified that he initiated the divorce, not his wife. 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: ketchup on June 25, 2020, 01:32:47 PM

My peeve is his personal use of marijuana.     That's it...  and it is a personal issue, not a MMM issue.


MMM is a marijuana user?
as a side note - when is the US going to legalize it federally?  Isn't it legal in most states?
I think it's legal in ten-ish states, but they're mostly big ones.  IL and MI were the last ones, taking effect at the beginning of this year.  A few more and there will be enough momentum for it to go federal, but hard to say exactly when that'll actually happen.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: bluebelle on June 25, 2020, 01:51:47 PM

My peeve is his personal use of marijuana.     That's it...  and it is a personal issue, not a MMM issue.


MMM is a marijuana user?
as a side note - when is the US going to legalize it federally?  Isn't it legal in most states?
I think it's legal in ten-ish states, but they're mostly big ones.  IL and MI were the last ones, taking effect at the beginning of this year.  A few more and there will be enough momentum for it to go federal, but hard to say exactly when that'll actually happen.
I thought it was legal in more states....but I mostly travel to California, so I have a more liberal view of the US I guess.

My doctor wanted to prescribe it for a chronic pain condition.....nope, big brother is watching and I need to be able to enter the US for work.   And I want to keep my trusted traveler status, so no, not going to use it.   
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: OtherJen on June 25, 2020, 02:29:33 PM
one other thing that I had a problem with was MMM's assertion that you don't need to shower daily, and clothes do need to be washed that often.   I have an office job, but I still think I need a daily shower.   And on the days I venture out in the summer - damn I may need two showers.   Even if I don't stink or have someone around me to tell me I stink, I don't like the sticky feeling of my skin after a good sweat while out for a walk.

Ah, the joys of living in the Great Lakes region in July and August. Yeah, I also rolled my eyes a bit at someone who lives in Colorado claiming that none of us need to shower or wash our clothes so often.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on June 25, 2020, 02:33:53 PM

My peeve is his personal use of marijuana.     That's it...  and it is a personal issue, not a MMM issue.


MMM is a marijuana user?
as a side note - when is the US going to legalize it federally?  Isn't it legal in most states?

Hahahaha... you've just opened a legal can of worms.  Several states have various levels of "legal", from medicinal to adult recreational.  It's still a controlled substance for all states, insomuch that an 8 year old cannot legally purchase it.
But it gets weirder, so while  - say - California allows recreational use and there are pot distilleries all over the state, it's still on the books as a federally controlled substance under the Controlled Substance Act.  So it's STILL illegal to have, buy, sell etc. in California from a federal standpoint, even though it's legal by state law.  And then you go further down the rabbit hole... under Obama the DEA halted prosecuting marijuana posession charges unless it was linked to somehting more severe (e.g. money laundering, organized crime).  AND the constuttion makes it very difficult for the federal government to actually enforce and prosecute someone unless that person (or his/her money/goods) crosses state lines.  So even if the DEA wants to prosecute a California resident for smoking weed inside California... it largely can't without the explicit approval of the California DA.

As to your broader question... there are still some very strong pockets of America that are very anti marijuana legalization, for a variety of reasons. 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: FarFetchd on June 25, 2020, 03:12:22 PM
This has been discussed extensively. There is even a sticky on the 4% ďruleĒ plus dozens of parts on CAPE, past and current valuations, SORR and the like.
The bottom line is that no one should blindly follow a 4% strategy, and in reality no one does. That said, your underlying assumption that a 4% WR is ďdangerousĒ today is both a misunderstanding of what Pete ( and others) are suggesting and not well supported by historical or impartial analysis

I do not see a sticky like that on any of the boards. Maybe the one you're thinking of was unstickied?

It sounds like you're saying the consensus on the forum is that "25x expenses => quit work" is a bad idea. If so, that's good to hear! The problem is, it's the blog posts, not this forum, that most people are going to see. For instance, I've been a pretty hardcore follower of the blog since early 2016, but only recently paid the forum much attention. The blog's main SWR post is titled "The 4% Rule: The Easy Answer to ďHow Much Do I Need for Retirement?", is all-in on the 4% rule (even considering 5% with caveats), and dismisses concerns with the trinity study's applicability with flexibility suggestions, one of which is literally "go back to work" (i.e. pretend a failed run was actually a success). So, not at all a misunderstanding of what he's saying, at least in the snippet that is going to reach the most people.

Now, I'm afraid I have to complain about your communication style for a second! 'Assumption' doesn't describe the conclusion of a bunch of analysis; assumptions are inputs to reasoning, not the output. Calling it that makes it sound like you're trying to preemptively shut down the discussion by using 'assumption' in the pejorative sense of not well thought out. With that out of the way: if you don't think a 4% trigger is currently dangerous (which I'm personally defining as a few percent chance of people finding out that their FIRE plan isn't going to work after being a couple of years separated from their career), is there an effective refutation of EarlyRetirementNow's SWR series somewhere out there that I'm not aware of? Of all I've seen, it is THE definitive impartial historical analysis, and its most basic conclusion is that in conditions like the present, a 4% trigger has a real chance of trashing your financial life when trying a ~60year retirement.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: bluebelle on June 25, 2020, 03:29:24 PM
one other thing that I had a problem with was MMM's assertion that you don't need to shower daily, and clothes do need to be washed that often.   I have an office job, but I still think I need a daily shower.   And on the days I venture out in the summer - damn I may need two showers.   Even if I don't stink or have someone around me to tell me I stink, I don't like the sticky feeling of my skin after a good sweat while out for a walk.

Ah, the joys of living in the Great Lakes region in July and August. Yeah, I also rolled my eyes a bit at someone who lives in Colorado claiming that none of us need to shower or wash our clothes so often.
I just went and looked - Boulder, CO is 84įF right now - so warmer than Toronto.....since Pete does alot of physical labour and bicycling, I'm thinking a nightly shower should be a necessity....but hey, I don't have to get close to him

As an aside, there have been a few people that have reminded me that I'm within 6' of them just by their smell.....the one thing I am enjoying about physical distancing - not getting too close to folks with different hygiene standards than mine!
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: OtherJen on June 25, 2020, 03:33:33 PM
one other thing that I had a problem with was MMM's assertion that you don't need to shower daily, and clothes do need to be washed that often.   I have an office job, but I still think I need a daily shower.   And on the days I venture out in the summer - damn I may need two showers.   Even if I don't stink or have someone around me to tell me I stink, I don't like the sticky feeling of my skin after a good sweat while out for a walk.

Ah, the joys of living in the Great Lakes region in July and August. Yeah, I also rolled my eyes a bit at someone who lives in Colorado claiming that none of us need to shower or wash our clothes so often.
I just went and looked - Boulder, CO is 84įF right now - so warmer than Toronto.....since Pete does alot of physical labour and bicycling, I'm thinking a nightly shower should be a necessity....but hey, I don't have to get close to him

As an aside, there have been a few people that have reminded me that I'm within 6' of them just by their smell.....the one thing I am enjoying about physical distancing - not getting too close to folks with different hygiene standards than mine!

I was actually referring to the humidity level (which is currently an extremely comfortable 22% in Boulder). Detroit and Toronto are on peninsulas and are nearly always more humid. Daily showers seem much more necessary when the temperature is above 90F and humidity is above 60%.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: bluebelle on June 25, 2020, 03:36:35 PM
one other thing that I had a problem with was MMM's assertion that you don't need to shower daily, and clothes do need to be washed that often.   I have an office job, but I still think I need a daily shower.   And on the days I venture out in the summer - damn I may need two showers.   Even if I don't stink or have someone around me to tell me I stink, I don't like the sticky feeling of my skin after a good sweat while out for a walk.

Ah, the joys of living in the Great Lakes region in July and August. Yeah, I also rolled my eyes a bit at someone who lives in Colorado claiming that none of us need to shower or wash our clothes so often.
I just went and looked - Boulder, CO is 84įF right now - so warmer than Toronto.....since Pete does alot of physical labour and bicycling, I'm thinking a nightly shower should be a necessity....but hey, I don't have to get close to him

As an aside, there have been a few people that have reminded me that I'm within 6' of them just by their smell.....the one thing I am enjoying about physical distancing - not getting too close to folks with different hygiene standards than mine!

I was actually referring to the humidity level (which is currently an extremely comfortable 22% in Boulder). Detroit and Toronto are on peninsulas and are nearly always more humid. Daily showers seem much more necessary when the temperature is above 90F and humidity is above 60%.
True.....not sure about Detroit, but Toronto temperatures are given along with the 'feels like' humidex temperature.   Just like the windchill temperature in the winter.   
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: slappy on June 25, 2020, 05:08:19 PM
one other thing that I had a problem with was MMM's assertion that you don't need to shower daily, and clothes do need to be washed that often.   I have an office job, but I still think I need a daily shower.   And on the days I venture out in the summer - damn I may need two showers.   Even if I don't stink or have someone around me to tell me I stink, I don't like the sticky feeling of my skin after a good sweat while out for a walk.

Ah, the joys of living in the Great Lakes region in July and August. Yeah, I also rolled my eyes a bit at someone who lives in Colorado claiming that none of us need to shower or wash our clothes so often.
I just went and looked - Boulder, CO is 84įF right now - so warmer than Toronto.....since Pete does alot of physical labour and bicycling, I'm thinking a nightly shower should be a necessity....but hey, I don't have to get close to him

As an aside, there have been a few people that have reminded me that I'm within 6' of them just by their smell.....the one thing I am enjoying about physical distancing - not getting too close to folks with different hygiene standards than mine!

As mentioned above, he is single now, so maybe he isn't too concerned about the showers. haha
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Life in Balance on June 25, 2020, 05:09:26 PM
@FarFetchd

It's stickied in the Investor Alley subforum:  https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/investor-alley/stop-worrying-about-the-4-rule/
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: OtherJen on June 25, 2020, 05:17:51 PM
one other thing that I had a problem with was MMM's assertion that you don't need to shower daily, and clothes do need to be washed that often.   I have an office job, but I still think I need a daily shower.   And on the days I venture out in the summer - damn I may need two showers.   Even if I don't stink or have someone around me to tell me I stink, I don't like the sticky feeling of my skin after a good sweat while out for a walk.

Ah, the joys of living in the Great Lakes region in July and August. Yeah, I also rolled my eyes a bit at someone who lives in Colorado claiming that none of us need to shower or wash our clothes so often.
I just went and looked - Boulder, CO is 84įF right now - so warmer than Toronto.....since Pete does alot of physical labour and bicycling, I'm thinking a nightly shower should be a necessity....but hey, I don't have to get close to him

As an aside, there have been a few people that have reminded me that I'm within 6' of them just by their smell.....the one thing I am enjoying about physical distancing - not getting too close to folks with different hygiene standards than mine!

I was actually referring to the humidity level (which is currently an extremely comfortable 22% in Boulder). Detroit and Toronto are on peninsulas and are nearly always more humid. Daily showers seem much more necessary when the temperature is above 90F and humidity is above 60%.
True.....not sure about Detroit, but Toronto temperatures are given along with the 'feels like' humidex temperature.   Just like the windchill temperature in the winter.

Detroit and Toronto have similar weather, so we also have heat index/humidex and wind chill reports.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: happy on June 25, 2020, 05:40:19 PM
Man changed my life! I donít disagree with any of his approach because itís the way he wants to live his life and his opinion on things. Like any opinion, I take what works for me and leave the rest. I happen to agree with most of his perspectives but I donít have the will or desire to emulate, and thatís ok. His thinking challenged my own and what I thought I needed or wanted. Heís one of the few people that has actually had a profound influence on my life as an adult because I simply did not get personal finance before. Heís out here living his literal best life, while truly caring about the world around him and the people in it. Thatís admirable to me. Heís backed it up with actions, not complaining on someoneís forum.

This pretty much sums it up for me! I discovered the blog Dec 2011, drank the Kool-Aid and retired Oct 2018. I've never taken what he says completely literally eg Face-punching etc, and found his colourful turn of phrase hilarious eg hair on fire, complainypants etc etc. I don't bike and I'm not even directly invested in index funds, but I don't think that makes me less mustachian.

As someone who has hung around on this forum since 2012, I also agree with Nords. There is a life cycle to these things. I loved the early days of this forum, read all the posts and we had some great discussions. A few years later I was mourning the loss of such a personal group...numbers of posts and posters rapidly increased, and some great threads were destroyed by some self-opinionated argumentative types. These days I've found a niche in the forums, with folks whose company I enjoy. I occasionally venture more widely, but generally limit that due to time constraints, and a desire to keep my blood pressure in normal range.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mrs sideways on June 25, 2020, 06:32:40 PM
I thought it was always unfair that he got to shuffle all personal projects and hobbies off his annual balance sheet under the guise of "it's for business".

And dude, Teslas are NOT self-driving cars.

Plus there was that time where, in a post's comments, someone defending traveling in order to see a solar eclipse. His response was along the lines of "I can see the eclipse for free on YouTube!", which is... like, what you would write if you were making a MMM parody post.

That said, I still miss him posting more often. What I always got out of the blog was to question everything. Do I really want it? Do I really need it? Isn't there a better way to spend the money? I needed that constant poke, push, reminder, whatever you want to call it, to police myself and my spending habits. I keep looking for another blog or podcast to give that regular checkup.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: deborah on June 26, 2020, 12:20:48 AM
Pete writes to challenge us. Sometimes things he says are a bit confronting, but as others have said, that's what most of us are here for. FIRE is a confronting concept. We are not a cheer squad, or a group who should be blindly following the leader.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Trudie on June 26, 2020, 09:15:39 PM
I know that this is not the subject of his blog but he never touches upon the race, class and gender aspects of money.  Although he says that his approach also works for low incomes it would be much harder for, for example, a single parent with multiple children and a low income to execute FIRE than a privileged person like MMM himself. 

I also find his dismissive attitude to illness and disability rather insulting.  You can do everything 'right' and still get sick.  I was probably equally oblivious until I actually got sick in my 30s.  Luckily, I live in Italy but if I still lived in the US healthcare would be a big and permanent expense for me.  And of course anyone could end up with health issues no matter how much bike riding and salads they indulge in.

This resonates with me, especially right now.  So much of the current fallout from the George Floyd murder, BLM protests, and highlights of the racial wealth gap in our country are putting me (as a white, FIREd person) in a very introspective frame of mind.  I find myself thinking about the systemic things that assisted me in getting here, and there are many.  And these same advantages continue to accrue with more wealth.

We spend a lot of time touting our ďgreat decisionsĒ all over these forums, without acknowledging that many of us had a head start in the foot race.   To be sure, many of us made ďsmartĒ decisions.  But along the way maybe many of us had bad shit happen, but we got second or third or fourth chance, or better health care, or better schools ó because we were white.  I can now look at my own life and see this more clearly.

So, I guess where I see myself departing from MMM right now is that I feel like Iím at a crossroads of sorts where ó for lack of a better descriptionó Iím starting to think more about what I want to do with my wealth rather than ďoptimizingĒ and all the stuff that mostly only privileged people have the bandwidth to do.  I think he can sound rather cavalier, as if it all comes down personal choices.

I was personally conflicted when the economy started to tank, racial unrest was brewing, people were dying of Covid in the thousands, and yet the stock market was going up.  And yes, we have a lot of clams in that basket, and so I did experience some calm from that.  Again, Iím not demonizing others here, just humbly pointing out contradictions in my own psyche and thinking maybe others can relate.

To reiterate, this is not a wholesale dismissal of MMM or meant as an indictment of anyone specific on these forums, just an explanation of why the tone of MMM is out of sync with where I and perhaps others are at mentally during this time of national crisis.  Clearly, he has a certain audience and he writes for that audience.

Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: FLAFI on June 27, 2020, 07:13:23 AM
I've discovered in the pandemic that I'd do not like DIY haircuts. MMM cuts his own hair.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Life in Balance on June 27, 2020, 08:25:50 AM
I know that this is not the subject of his blog but he never touches upon the race, class and gender aspects of money.  Although he says that his approach also works for low incomes it would be much harder for, for example, a single parent with multiple children and a low income to execute FIRE than a privileged person like MMM himself. 

I also find his dismissive attitude to illness and disability rather insulting.  You can do everything 'right' and still get sick.  I was probably equally oblivious until I actually got sick in my 30s.  Luckily, I live in Italy but if I still lived in the US healthcare would be a big and permanent expense for me.  And of course anyone could end up with health issues no matter how much bike riding and salads they indulge in.

This resonates with me, especially right now.  So much of the current fallout from the George Floyd murder, BLM protests, and highlights of the racial wealth gap in our country are putting me (as a white, FIREd person) in a very introspective frame of mind.  I find myself thinking about the systemic things that assisted me in getting here, and there are many.  And these same advantages continue to accrue with more wealth.

We spend a lot of time touting our ďgreat decisionsĒ all over these forums, without acknowledging that many of us had a head start in the foot race.   To be sure, many of us made ďsmartĒ decisions.  But along the way maybe many of us had bad shit happen, but we got second or third or fourth chance, or better health care, or better schools ó because we were white.  I can now look at my own life and see this more clearly.

So, I guess where I see myself departing from MMM right now is that I feel like Iím at a crossroads of sorts where ó for lack of a better descriptionó Iím starting to think more about what I want to do with my wealth rather than ďoptimizingĒ and all the stuff that mostly only privileged people have the bandwidth to do.  I think he can sound rather cavalier, as if it all comes down personal choices.

I was personally conflicted when the economy started to tank, racial unrest was brewing, people were dying of Covid in the thousands, and yet the stock market was going up.  And yes, we have a lot of clams in that basket, and so I did experience some calm from that.  Again, Iím not demonizing others here, just humbly pointing out contradictions in my own psyche and thinking maybe others can relate.

To reiterate, this is not a wholesale dismissal of MMM or meant as an indictment of anyone specific on these forums, just an explanation of why the tone of MMM is out of sync with where I and perhaps others are at mentally during this time of national crisis.  Clearly, he has a certain audience and he writes for that audience.

Both of these posts express better than I could have my own views/differences with MMM.  So thank you to both of you for posting.  It's difficult for me in the current US context (and the larger global one) to consider my own comfortable position in contrast to the many who are struggling.  I've increased my charitable and activism donations, but it still seems like a drop in the bucket.  Our Next Life talks about these types of issues on her blog extensively if you're interested:  https://ournextlife.com/
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: MrTurtle on June 27, 2020, 08:45:15 AM
The list of things I think MMM is wrong about is very short, and most of them are related to Elon Musk.  There's one big thing that I might get stoned to death for.  It's the 4% rule. 

MMM (like the other thousand or so FIRE bloggers) frequently cites that if your yearly spending is 4% of your net worth or less, you have enough that your money will last forever.  Except the guy who originally made the 4% rule never said that.  He said it means your money will most likely last 30 years.  He was studying conventional retirement, during a time when living past age 90 was almost unheard of so he decided that the 4% rule means it's safe to retire at 60.  The shockingly simple math behind early conventional retirement.

I understand that most early retirees find themselves doing part-time work, or finding some unconventional way to make money to fill the gap.  I also understand that an actual safe withdrawal rate is only like half a percentage point lower.  I still think it is irresponsible to tell people they can apply the 4% rule to something it was never meant for in the first place, and to make it a centerpiece of the blog.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: RWD on June 27, 2020, 09:06:47 AM
The list of things I think MMM is wrong about is very short, and most of them are related to Elon Musk.  There's one big thing that I might get stoned to death for.  It's the 4% rule. 

MMM (like the other thousand or so FIRE bloggers) frequently cites that if your yearly spending is 4% of your net worth or less, you have enough that your money will last forever.  Except the guy who originally made the 4% rule never said that.  He said it means your money will most likely last 30 years.  He was studying conventional retirement, during a time when living past age 90 was almost unheard of so he decided that the 4% rule means it's safe to retire at 60.  The shockingly simple math behind early conventional retirement.

I understand that most early retirees find themselves doing part-time work, or finding some unconventional way to make money to fill the gap.  I also understand that an actual safe withdrawal rate is only like half a percentage point lower.  I still think it is irresponsible to tell people they can apply the 4% rule to something it was never meant for in the first place, and to make it a centerpiece of the blog.

There's no one guy that came up with the 4% rule. It's from the Trinity study (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity_study) and was a group of people. It assumes no social security income so it tends to be very safe. But you are right that it doesn't recommend using it as essentially a perpetual withdrawal rate. It doesn't even have the conclusion that 4% is the gold standard either: "withdrawal rates of 3% to 4% continue to produce high portfolio success rates for stock-dominated portfolios."

That said, I also don't think MMM is suggesting to just follow 4% blindly. He accompanies it with information about where it comes from and the number of possible safety net assumptions (social security, inheritance, future income, etc). I don't blame him for pushing it because in generally people tend to be too cautious and work decade(s) longer than necessary and his blog is about retiring early after all. If he can convince some people to at least go from a 2% WR to 3% WR that would be so many unnecessary working years saved.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Buffaloski Boris on June 27, 2020, 09:21:05 AM
I usually agree with MMM. Like a surprisingly large part of the time.  I believe that the amazingly simple math is probably outdated at this point: I don't think a 4% WR works.  Not Pete's fault; when he wrote that it was reasonable to expect that returns would continue at roughly 7%.  4-5% is probably more realistic heading forward.  That wasn't the article that attracted me anyway; it wasn't all that unique of a perspective in truth.  It was the optimism gun that attracted me. 

Where I usually get into the disagreements on the forums are with the JL Collins fans.  I actually agree with JL on most of the important stuff like time in the market, and staying the course. I also think he's very entertaining.  I just believe that he's dead wrong on "VTSAX and forget it."  There are other ways to skin the cat, and diversification in my view is a big, BIG issue.  An all US weight capped index just doesn't cut it. 

There is also a left of center political vibe to MMM that I shy away from. I don't particularly care about the "left" part, I don't like partisan politics and view it as greatly counterproductive. The politically obsessed view it differently and that makes for some interesting clashes.  That is when I can get motivated enough to care.       
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Psychstache on June 27, 2020, 11:37:45 AM
Beer tastes like crap and is a waste of money and calories.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Buffaloski Boris on June 27, 2020, 12:18:40 PM
Beer tastes like crap and is a waste of money and calories.

Themís fightiní words. :-p
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: RetiredAt63 on June 27, 2020, 12:26:59 PM
Beer tastes like crap and is a waste of money and calories.

Themís fightiní words. :-p

I'm with Psychstache. Give me a nice cider or wine instead.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Effervescent on June 27, 2020, 01:47:17 PM
I disagree with MMM's approach as I disagree with the general FIRE approach generally - I'm not a fan of throwing money into the general stock market without examining what you're funding. Some companies I dislike, such as Amazon, and I don't want my money supporting them. But the general FIRE approach is to throw everything into VTSAX. Because VTSAX includes many companies who I believe do more harm than good, I don't support funding VTSAX as a means to achieving financial independence. There's a reason that the world is so messed up, and hypercapitalist greed is part of that.

What's a good alternative? I don't have a perfect answer. But I suspect that it involves investing in ethical companies that make real things and contribute to a prosperous, democratic world. Maybe VEIGX/VESGX would be good funds to finance. Or REITs. 

Good books to read on this are Bull**** Jobs, and The Soul of Money.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on June 27, 2020, 03:33:15 PM
The list of things I think MMM is wrong about is very short, and most of them are related to Elon Musk.  There's one big thing that I might get stoned to death for.  It's the 4% rule. 

MMM (like the other thousand or so FIRE bloggers) frequently cites that if your yearly spending is 4% of your net worth or less, you have enough that your money will last forever.  Except the guy who originally made the 4% rule never said that.  He said it means your money will most likely last 30 years.  He was studying conventional retirement, during a time when living past age 90 was almost unheard of so he decided that the 4% rule means it's safe to retire at 60.  The shockingly simple math behind early conventional retirement.

I understand that most early retirees find themselves doing part-time work, or finding some unconventional way to make money to fill the gap.  I also understand that an actual safe withdrawal rate is only like half a percentage point lower.  I still think it is irresponsible to tell people they can apply the 4% rule to something it was never meant for in the first place, and to make it a centerpiece of the blog.

Point 1: you have mischaracterized the 4% WR and itís creation
Point 2: you have mischaracterized what Pete has said about relying on a 4% WR.

What an ďactual safe withdrawal rateĒ is cannot be universal across all people.

We literally have hundreds of pages discussing these topics.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Buffaloski Boris on June 27, 2020, 04:14:41 PM
I disagree with MMM's approach as I disagree with the general FIRE approach generally - I'm not a fan of throwing money into the general stock market without examining what you're funding. Some companies I dislike, such as Amazon, and I don't want my money supporting them. But the general FIRE approach is to throw everything into VTSAX. Because VTSAX includes many companies who I believe do more harm than good, I don't support funding VTSAX as a means to achieving financial independence. There's a reason that the world is so messed up, and hypercapitalist greed is part of that.

What's a good alternative? I don't have a perfect answer. But I suspect that it involves investing in ethical companies that make real things and contribute to a prosperous, democratic world. Maybe VEIGX/VESGX would be good funds to finance. Or REITs. 

Good books to read on this are Bull**** Jobs, and The Soul of Money.

Thatís an interesting perspective and I like it. Hereís a suggestion: build your own index. Most of the big brokerages donít charge for trades anyway. Pick companies that you like, pick a lot of them to maximize diversification and minimize single company risk, and be sure not to ignore international. You can buy a surprising number of international companies on the NYSE or through ADRs. ESG is something of concern to you, so why not pull a list of ESG companies, pick the ones that meet YOUR criteria, and call it a day?   

Iím not a fan of VTSAX but for different reasons: I think itís far too heavily weighted to a few very large companies. Take a look at the VTSAX holdings by percentage. Why not just buy the 50 biggest stocks in the SP 500? Thatís what youíre buying anyway. When you build your own index, you can pick what you want and exclude what you want. And the management fees for the Effervescent index?  Zero. 0.000% 

Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mathlete on June 27, 2020, 04:52:17 PM
I agree with MMMís approach to life probably 98%. The ďfocus on happiness itselfĒ stuff really rings true.

I donít like his ďlow information dietĒ stuff though. I get the point, that you can drive yourself crazy worrying about the news. I donít advise that anyone does that. But if youíre privileged enough to pursue FIRE you probably owe it to your fellow man to be aware of events going on that may not effect you personally.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: marty998 on June 27, 2020, 05:03:58 PM
Beer tastes like crap and is a waste of money and calories.

Themís fightiní words. :-p

I'm with Psychstache. Give me a nice cider or wine instead.

+1. Love a good cider.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: DadJokes on June 27, 2020, 05:13:07 PM
Sure, we can complain about Pete's "facepunch" style, but it works. There's a reason that he's the biggest name in the FIRE-sphere, and it's the same reason Dave Ramsey is the biggest name in all of personal finance. It gets people's attention.

As a result, it brings more people in. That's not a bad thing.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: RWD on June 27, 2020, 05:39:38 PM
I disagree with MMM's approach as I disagree with the general FIRE approach generally - I'm not a fan of throwing money into the general stock market without examining what you're funding. Some companies I dislike, such as Amazon, and I don't want my money supporting them. But the general FIRE approach is to throw everything into VTSAX. Because VTSAX includes many companies who I believe do more harm than good, I don't support funding VTSAX as a means to achieving financial independence. There's a reason that the world is so messed up, and hypercapitalist greed is part of that.

What's a good alternative? I don't have a perfect answer. But I suspect that it involves investing in ethical companies that make real things and contribute to a prosperous, democratic world. Maybe VEIGX/VESGX would be good funds to finance. Or REITs. 

Good books to read on this are Bull**** Jobs, and The Soul of Money.

Thatís an interesting perspective and I like it. Hereís a suggestion: build your own index. Most of the big brokerages donít charge for trades anyway. Pick companies that you like, pick a lot of them to maximize diversification and minimize single company risk, and be sure not to ignore international. You can buy a surprising number of international companies on the NYSE or through ADRs. ESG is something of concern to you, so why not pull a list of ESG companies, pick the ones that meet YOUR criteria, and call it a day?   

Iím not a fan of VTSAX but for different reasons: I think itís far too heavily weighted to a few very large companies. Take a look at the VTSAX holdings by percentage. Why not just buy the 50 biggest stocks in the SP 500? Thatís what youíre buying anyway. When you build your own index, you can pick what you want and exclude what you want. And the management fees for the Effervescent index?  Zero. 0.000%

Avoiding investing in unethical companies is impractical (if you dig deep enough you can probably find a reason to exclude any company) and doesn't change anything. Unless you're buying at IPO you aren't putting more money in the pockets of the company by buying their stock. Some previous discussions:
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/investor-alley/ethical-implications-of-index-fund-investing/
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/investor-alley/new-vanguard-ethical-investment-funds/
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/investor-alley/are-index-funds-unethical/
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Effervescent on June 27, 2020, 08:19:24 PM
I disagree with MMM's approach as I disagree with the general FIRE approach generally - I'm not a fan of throwing money into the general stock market without examining what you're funding. Some companies I dislike, such as Amazon, and I don't want my money supporting them. But the general FIRE approach is to throw everything into VTSAX. Because VTSAX includes many companies who I believe do more harm than good, I don't support funding VTSAX as a means to achieving financial independence. There's a reason that the world is so messed up, and hypercapitalist greed is part of that.

What's a good alternative? I don't have a perfect answer. But I suspect that it involves investing in ethical companies that make real things and contribute to a prosperous, democratic world. Maybe VEIGX/VESGX would be good funds to finance. Or REITs. 

Good books to read on this are Bull**** Jobs, and The Soul of Money.

Thatís an interesting perspective and I like it. Hereís a suggestion: build your own index. Most of the big brokerages donít charge for trades anyway. Pick companies that you like, pick a lot of them to maximize diversification and minimize single company risk, and be sure not to ignore international. You can buy a surprising number of international companies on the NYSE or through ADRs. ESG is something of concern to you, so why not pull a list of ESG companies, pick the ones that meet YOUR criteria, and call it a day?   

Iím not a fan of VTSAX but for different reasons: I think itís far too heavily weighted to a few very large companies. Take a look at the VTSAX holdings by percentage. Why not just buy the 50 biggest stocks in the SP 500? Thatís what youíre buying anyway. When you build your own index, you can pick what you want and exclude what you want. And the management fees for the Effervescent index?  Zero. 0.000%

Avoiding investing in unethical companies is impractical (if you dig deep enough you can probably find a reason to exclude any company) and doesn't change anything. Unless you're buying at IPO you aren't putting more money in the pockets of the company by buying their stock. Some previous discussions:
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/investor-alley/ethical-implications-of-index-fund-investing/
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/investor-alley/new-vanguard-ethical-investment-funds/
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/investor-alley/are-index-funds-unethical/

I've read all of those threads. I disagree that avoiding investing in unethical stocks "doesn't change anything". If nothing else, I feel better about my place in the world knowing that I am not financing these companies, which improves my own life.

Like Boris mentioned above, index funds are also top-heavy, meaning Amazon, Facebook, Google, etc. are heavily weighted. I'd rather that my money go elsewhere.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: marty998 on June 27, 2020, 09:15:28 PM
I disagree with MMM's approach as I disagree with the general FIRE approach generally - I'm not a fan of throwing money into the general stock market without examining what you're funding. Some companies I dislike, such as Amazon, and I don't want my money supporting them. But the general FIRE approach is to throw everything into VTSAX. Because VTSAX includes many companies who I believe do more harm than good, I don't support funding VTSAX as a means to achieving financial independence. There's a reason that the world is so messed up, and hypercapitalist greed is part of that.

What's a good alternative? I don't have a perfect answer. But I suspect that it involves investing in ethical companies that make real things and contribute to a prosperous, democratic world. Maybe VEIGX/VESGX would be good funds to finance. Or REITs. 

Good books to read on this are Bull**** Jobs, and The Soul of Money.

Thatís an interesting perspective and I like it. Hereís a suggestion: build your own index. Most of the big brokerages donít charge for trades anyway. Pick companies that you like, pick a lot of them to maximize diversification and minimize single company risk, and be sure not to ignore international. You can buy a surprising number of international companies on the NYSE or through ADRs. ESG is something of concern to you, so why not pull a list of ESG companies, pick the ones that meet YOUR criteria, and call it a day?   

Iím not a fan of VTSAX but for different reasons: I think itís far too heavily weighted to a few very large companies. Take a look at the VTSAX holdings by percentage. Why not just buy the 50 biggest stocks in the SP 500? Thatís what youíre buying anyway. When you build your own index, you can pick what you want and exclude what you want. And the management fees for the Effervescent index?  Zero. 0.000%

Avoiding investing in unethical companies is impractical (if you dig deep enough you can probably find a reason to exclude any company) and doesn't change anything. Unless you're buying at IPO you aren't putting more money in the pockets of the company by buying their stock. Some previous discussions:
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/investor-alley/ethical-implications-of-index-fund-investing/
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/investor-alley/new-vanguard-ethical-investment-funds/
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/investor-alley/are-index-funds-unethical/

I've read all of those threads. I disagree that avoiding investing in unethical stocks "doesn't change anything". If nothing else, I feel better about my place in the world knowing that I am not financing these companies, which improves my own life.

Like Boris mentioned above, index funds are also top-heavy, meaning Amazon, Facebook, Google, etc. are heavily weighted. I'd rather that my money go elsewhere.

I can see the merit in owning a company that you might find distasteful. If you don't own it somebody else will (by definition, all shares are owned by someone). At least if you own the shares you can vote at the company meetings. You can also take your dividend cheques and reinvest it elsewhere (thus actually reallocating capital to your favoured part of the economy). Selling shares doesn't do this.

If you don't own a piece of the company you can't really agitate for any change internally within the company. You are limited to applying pressure externally, such as what Unilever is doing with its advertising spend and pulling it from Facebook and Twitter.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: FIPurpose on June 27, 2020, 09:19:56 PM
Hey I made it through 3 pages without seeing anyone mention my complaint.

I joined the forum circa 2012 or so when I was bored out of my mind at my internship just before graduating college. I was reading about how to retire early and voila, I ran into an article about MMM. I was instantly hooked. Not because of his silly writing style but because of the back of the napkin math. I also really enjoyed his posts on upgrading his house with better insulation, hot water pipes underneath the kitchen floor, etc. It was the perfect blend of a early retirement, home DIY, and personality.

I knew the blog was him putting on a bit of character, but I followed the blog for a long time. Probably for about 3-4 years. The last 4 years have really only been me using the forum. BUT! Spring 2017, MMM was making the rounds to different cities. So I was thinking "Of course I have to go out and meet this dude. He totally flipped my life upside down and gave me a goal and a path out of cubicle land". So I go to the MMM meetup in downtown Portland that was being held at the LearningTree HQ. I get there and meet a bunch of awesome people. I'm also waiting my turn to go up and maybe chat with Pete for like 5 minutes tell him that his ideas and blog basically allowed me and my SO to quit our jobs and take a sabbatical for a year to go overseas.

He seems like a pretty cool, chill dude. My SO really wants to take a picture with him. So before we say goodbye and a final thanks, SO asks for a picture. And he says "Yeah I don't really like taking pictures, it just feels fake to me." Then he kind of motions that we should instead take a candid picture with just him in the background somewhere. Honestly, for a dude that puts on such a ridiculous persona for a blog, suddenly in person didn't want to "feel fake".

It rubbed us the wrong way. We just came away from that interaction thinking "wow, MMM is a lot weirder than I imagined he would be". I still appreciate the forum and some of the old blog posts, but the thing I liked least about MMM was his poor fan interaction. I can't help but think of that moment whenever I'm reading his blog now: "I'm just reading the blog of some weird dude in Colorado."
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mathlete on June 27, 2020, 09:27:04 PM
Having met a whole lot of people who were "from the Internet" IRL, I can tell you that it's not uncommon for someone to be boisterous online, but shy or awkward in person. Wouldn't hold it against him too much.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: RWD on June 27, 2020, 09:30:38 PM
Avoiding investing in unethical companies is impractical (if you dig deep enough you can probably find a reason to exclude any company) and doesn't change anything. Unless you're buying at IPO you aren't putting more money in the pockets of the company by buying their stock. Some previous discussions:
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/investor-alley/ethical-implications-of-index-fund-investing/
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/investor-alley/new-vanguard-ethical-investment-funds/
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/investor-alley/are-index-funds-unethical/

I've read all of those threads. I disagree that avoiding investing in unethical stocks "doesn't change anything". If nothing else, I feel better about my place in the world knowing that I am not financing these companies, which improves my own life.

Like Boris mentioned above, index funds are also top-heavy, meaning Amazon, Facebook, Google, etc. are heavily weighted. I'd rather that my money go elsewhere.

Buying stock doesn't finance a company. You buy it from other investors. The company has to pay you to own their stock (dividends). Did you really read those threads?

And it really doesn't change a thing. Let's say <Bad Co> has a share price of $100 and annual earnings of $10/share (and for argument's sake let's say that's about average for the index). That means you have an ROI of 10%. Now let's say a large group of ethical investors sell the stock reducing the price to $95/share. The earnings are still the same so now the ROI is 10.5%. Other investors see the opportunity and buy the stock because it's a better deal than average and pushes the share price right back up to $100. This is of course simplified but that's the theory at least.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: spartana on June 27, 2020, 10:06:54 PM
Hey I made it through 3 pages without seeing anyone mention my complaint.

I joined the forum circa 2012 or so when I was bored out of my mind at my internship just before graduating college. I was reading about how to retire early and voila, I ran into an article about MMM. I was instantly hooked. Not because of his silly writing style but because of the back of the napkin math. I also really enjoyed his posts on upgrading his house with better insulation, hot water pipes underneath the kitchen floor, etc. It was the perfect blend of a early retirement, home DIY, and personality.

I knew the blog was him putting on a bit of character, but I followed the blog for a long time. Probably for about 3-4 years. The last 4 years have really only been me using the forum. BUT! Spring 2017, MMM was making the rounds to different cities. So I was thinking "Of course I have to go out and meet this dude. He totally flipped my life upside down and gave me a goal and a path out of cubicle land". So I go to the MMM meetup in downtown Portland that was being held at the LearningTree HQ. I get there and meet a bunch of awesome people. I'm also waiting my turn to go up and maybe chat with Pete for like 5 minutes tell him that his ideas and blog basically allowed me and my SO to quit our jobs and take a sabbatical for a year to go overseas.

He seems like a pretty cool, chill dude. My SO really wants to take a picture with him. So before we say goodbye and a final thanks, SO asks for a picture. And he says "Yeah I don't really like taking pictures, it just feels fake to me." Then he kind of motions that we should instead take a candid picture with just him in the background somewhere. Honestly, for a dude that puts on such a ridiculous persona for a blog, suddenly in person didn't want to "feel fake".

It rubbed us the wrong way. We just came away from that interaction thinking "wow, MMM is a lot weirder than I imagined he would be". I still appreciate the forum and some of the old blog posts, but the thing I liked least about MMM was his poor fan interaction. I can't help but think of that moment whenever I'm reading his blog now: "I'm just reading the blog of some weird dude in Colorado."
Is that weird though? A lot of people don't like their pictures taken by and with people, especially random strangers, for a variety of personal reasons.  While MMM is a crafted persona, Pete is a "real boy" and may not be comfortable with the lack of control he has over photos people take with him. I'm a weirdo too. But then I'm not a famous internet blogger. Or am I ;)? No I'm not but am very private especially around Mustashians I've met who post here.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Bloop Bloop on June 27, 2020, 10:17:11 PM
Sure, we can complain about Pete's "facepunch" style, but it works. There's a reason that he's the biggest name in the FIRE-sphere, and it's the same reason Dave Ramsey is the biggest name in all of personal finance. It gets people's attention.

As a result, it brings more people in. That's not a bad thing.

It's only "not a bad thing" if you're aiming for clicks rather than a real understanding of what happiness is about. Happiness requires you to be not too judgmental of others. It requires happy relationships - not just with people whose views or practices you agree with. Happiness requires you to embrace diversity of views. I can't see how any outward face punching or clown car-labelling (even if done semi-tongue in cheek) is going to help that.

Of course, MMM might say that he is preaching environmentalism (doubt it with his Tesla though) or stoicism (again, doubt it, note his lavish spending in some areas of life) or asceticism...but none of those appeals to me. I'm here to try to discuss how to improve personal finances and how to be happy. And I think both of those things require mostly a non-judgmental approach where you do not cut down others for their choices unless strictly framed in a dollars-and-cents analysis (which requires you to know a fair bit of info about the other person).
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: deborah on June 27, 2020, 10:28:10 PM
Sure, we can complain about Pete's "facepunch" style, but it works. There's a reason that he's the biggest name in the FIRE-sphere, and it's the same reason Dave Ramsey is the biggest name in all of personal finance. It gets people's attention.

As a result, it brings more people in. That's not a bad thing.

It's only "not a bad thing" if you're aiming for clicks rather than a real understanding of what happiness is about. Happiness requires you to be not too judgmental of others. It requires happy relationships - not just with people whose views or practices you agree with. Happiness requires you to embrace diversity of views. I can't see how any outward face punching or clown car-labelling (even if done semi-tongue in cheek) is going to help that.

Of course, MMM might say that he is preaching environmentalism (doubt it with his Tesla though) or stoicism (again, doubt it, note his lavish spending in some areas of life) or asceticism...but none of those appeals to me. I'm here to try to discuss how to improve personal finances and how to be happy. And I think both of those things require mostly a non-judgmental approach where you do not cut down others for their choices unless strictly framed in a dollars-and-cents analysis (which requires you to know a fair bit of info about the other person).
You need boggleheads rather than MMM
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: EscapeVelocity2020 on June 27, 2020, 10:28:52 PM
Hey I made it through 3 pages without seeing anyone mention my complaint.

I joined the forum circa 2012 or so when I was bored out of my mind at my internship just before graduating college. I was reading about how to retire early and voila, I ran into an article about MMM. I was instantly hooked. Not because of his silly writing style but because of the back of the napkin math. I also really enjoyed his posts on upgrading his house with better insulation, hot water pipes underneath the kitchen floor, etc. It was the perfect blend of a early retirement, home DIY, and personality.

I knew the blog was him putting on a bit of character, but I followed the blog for a long time. Probably for about 3-4 years. The last 4 years have really only been me using the forum. BUT! Spring 2017, MMM was making the rounds to different cities. So I was thinking "Of course I have to go out and meet this dude. He totally flipped my life upside down and gave me a goal and a path out of cubicle land". So I go to the MMM meetup in downtown Portland that was being held at the LearningTree HQ. I get there and meet a bunch of awesome people. I'm also waiting my turn to go up and maybe chat with Pete for like 5 minutes tell him that his ideas and blog basically allowed me and my SO to quit our jobs and take a sabbatical for a year to go overseas.

He seems like a pretty cool, chill dude. My SO really wants to take a picture with him. So before we say goodbye and a final thanks, SO asks for a picture. And he says "Yeah I don't really like taking pictures, it just feels fake to me." Then he kind of motions that we should instead take a candid picture with just him in the background somewhere. Honestly, for a dude that puts on such a ridiculous persona for a blog, suddenly in person didn't want to "feel fake".

It rubbed us the wrong way. We just came away from that interaction thinking "wow, MMM is a lot weirder than I imagined he would be". I still appreciate the forum and some of the old blog posts, but the thing I liked least about MMM was his poor fan interaction. I can't help but think of that moment whenever I'm reading his blog now: "I'm just reading the blog of some weird dude in Colorado."
Is that weird though? A lot of people don't like their pictures taken by and with people, especially random strangers, for a variety of personal reasons.  While MMM is a crafted persona, Pete is a "real boy" and may not be comfortable with the lack of control he has over photos people take with him. I'm a weirdo too. But then I'm not a famous internet blogger. Or am I ;)? No I'm not but am very private especially around Mustashians I've met who post here.

While I agree that famous people don't like to get their pictures taken with random strangers, it kinda comes with the territory.  When Pete goes to a MMM-inspired meet-up, the least he can do is smile for a camera (in a public space) and then try to have deeper connections with the people outside the photo.  Saying that it is fake indicates that he is self-centered, because it's not fake for the people that want the memory captured.  Sure, it's not the greatest part of being a celebrity I would imagine, maybe it's not a 2-way street that means a lot to Pete, but putting up that wall to your fans and expressing it explicitly is unnecessary.  But hey, I don't have these problems, so I'll readily admit that it's easy for me to pass judgement.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: FIPurpose on June 27, 2020, 10:40:50 PM
Hey I made it through 3 pages without seeing anyone mention my complaint.

I joined the forum circa 2012 or so when I was bored out of my mind at my internship just before graduating college. I was reading about how to retire early and voila, I ran into an article about MMM. I was instantly hooked. Not because of his silly writing style but because of the back of the napkin math. I also really enjoyed his posts on upgrading his house with better insulation, hot water pipes underneath the kitchen floor, etc. It was the perfect blend of a early retirement, home DIY, and personality.

I knew the blog was him putting on a bit of character, but I followed the blog for a long time. Probably for about 3-4 years. The last 4 years have really only been me using the forum. BUT! Spring 2017, MMM was making the rounds to different cities. So I was thinking "Of course I have to go out and meet this dude. He totally flipped my life upside down and gave me a goal and a path out of cubicle land". So I go to the MMM meetup in downtown Portland that was being held at the LearningTree HQ. I get there and meet a bunch of awesome people. I'm also waiting my turn to go up and maybe chat with Pete for like 5 minutes tell him that his ideas and blog basically allowed me and my SO to quit our jobs and take a sabbatical for a year to go overseas.

He seems like a pretty cool, chill dude. My SO really wants to take a picture with him. So before we say goodbye and a final thanks, SO asks for a picture. And he says "Yeah I don't really like taking pictures, it just feels fake to me." Then he kind of motions that we should instead take a candid picture with just him in the background somewhere. Honestly, for a dude that puts on such a ridiculous persona for a blog, suddenly in person didn't want to "feel fake".

It rubbed us the wrong way. We just came away from that interaction thinking "wow, MMM is a lot weirder than I imagined he would be". I still appreciate the forum and some of the old blog posts, but the thing I liked least about MMM was his poor fan interaction. I can't help but think of that moment whenever I'm reading his blog now: "I'm just reading the blog of some weird dude in Colorado."
Is that weird though? A lot of people don't like their pictures taken by and with people, especially random strangers, for a variety of personal reasons.  While MMM is a crafted persona, Pete is a "real boy" and may not be comfortable with the lack of control he has over photos people take with him. I'm a weirdo too. But then I'm not a famous internet blogger. Or am I ;)? No I'm not but am very private especially around Mustashians I've met who post here.

While I agree that famous people don't like to get their pictures taken with random strangers, it kinda comes with the territory.  When Pete goes to a MMM-inspired meet-up, the least he can do is smile for a camera (in a public space) and then try to have deeper connections with the people outside the photo.  Saying that it is fake indicates that he is self-centered, because it's not fake for the people that want the memory captured.  Sure, it's not the greatest part of being a celebrity I would imagine, maybe it's not a 2-way street that means a lot to Pete, but putting up that wall to your fans and expressing it explicitly is unnecessary.  But hey, I don't have these problems, so I'll readily admit that it's easy for me to pass judgement.

Right. If I was just meeting Pete by happenstance in a bar or something and he didn't want to be bothered, that would be understandable. But the whole thing was advertised as a "Hey, I'm going to be at these events at these cities on these dates to meet all you guys!" And it's not as if there's a ton a people. It was like 50 at most? Dude has a bunch of fans that made millions of dollars for Pete and he can't be bothered to take a posed picture with like 30 people? It seemed a bit disrespectful or at the very least aloof.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Bloop Bloop on June 27, 2020, 11:09:35 PM
Sure, we can complain about Pete's "facepunch" style, but it works. There's a reason that he's the biggest name in the FIRE-sphere, and it's the same reason Dave Ramsey is the biggest name in all of personal finance. It gets people's attention.

As a result, it brings more people in. That's not a bad thing.

It's only "not a bad thing" if you're aiming for clicks rather than a real understanding of what happiness is about. Happiness requires you to be not too judgmental of others. It requires happy relationships - not just with people whose views or practices you agree with. Happiness requires you to embrace diversity of views. I can't see how any outward face punching or clown car-labelling (even if done semi-tongue in cheek) is going to help that.

Of course, MMM might say that he is preaching environmentalism (doubt it with his Tesla though) or stoicism (again, doubt it, note his lavish spending in some areas of life) or asceticism...but none of those appeals to me. I'm here to try to discuss how to improve personal finances and how to be happy. And I think both of those things require mostly a non-judgmental approach where you do not cut down others for their choices unless strictly framed in a dollars-and-cents analysis (which requires you to know a fair bit of info about the other person).
You need boggleheads rather than MMM

Bogleheads seems to be very focussed on nuts and bolts of investing and not so much on lifestyle stuff, or the lifestyle stuff is too focussed around professional stuff. At least that was my glimpse of it.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: spartana on June 27, 2020, 11:36:59 PM
Hey I made it through 3 pages without seeing anyone mention my complaint.

I joined the forum circa 2012 or so when I was bored out of my mind at my internship just before graduating college. I was reading about how to retire early and voila, I ran into an article about MMM. I was instantly hooked. Not because of his silly writing style but because of the back of the napkin math. I also really enjoyed his posts on upgrading his house with better insulation, hot water pipes underneath the kitchen floor, etc. It was the perfect blend of a early retirement, home DIY, and personality.

I knew the blog was him putting on a bit of character, but I followed the blog for a long time. Probably for about 3-4 years. The last 4 years have really only been me using the forum. BUT! Spring 2017, MMM was making the rounds to different cities. So I was thinking "Of course I have to go out and meet this dude. He totally flipped my life upside down and gave me a goal and a path out of cubicle land". So I go to the MMM meetup in downtown Portland that was being held at the LearningTree HQ. I get there and meet a bunch of awesome people. I'm also waiting my turn to go up and maybe chat with Pete for like 5 minutes tell him that his ideas and blog basically allowed me and my SO to quit our jobs and take a sabbatical for a year to go overseas.

He seems like a pretty cool, chill dude. My SO really wants to take a picture with him. So before we say goodbye and a final thanks, SO asks for a picture. And he says "Yeah I don't really like taking pictures, it just feels fake to me." Then he kind of motions that we should instead take a candid picture with just him in the background somewhere. Honestly, for a dude that puts on such a ridiculous persona for a blog, suddenly in person didn't want to "feel fake".

It rubbed us the wrong way. We just came away from that interaction thinking "wow, MMM is a lot weirder than I imagined he would be". I still appreciate the forum and some of the old blog posts, but the thing I liked least about MMM was his poor fan interaction. I can't help but think of that moment whenever I'm reading his blog now: "I'm just reading the blog of some weird dude in Colorado."
Is that weird though? A lot of people don't like their pictures taken by and with people, especially random strangers, for a variety of personal reasons.  While MMM is a crafted persona, Pete is a "real boy" and may not be comfortable with the lack of control he has over photos people take with him. I'm a weirdo too. But then I'm not a famous internet blogger. Or am I ;)? No I'm not but am very private especially around Mustashians I've met who post here.

While I agree that famous people don't like to get their pictures taken with random strangers, it kinda comes with the territory.  When Pete goes to a MMM-inspired meet-up, the least he can do is smile for a camera (in a public space) and then try to have deeper connections with the people outside the photo.  Saying that it is fake indicates that he is self-centered, because it's not fake for the people that want the memory captured.  Sure, it's not the greatest part of being a celebrity I would imagine, maybe it's not a 2-way street that means a lot to Pete, but putting up that wall to your fans and expressing it explicitly is unnecessary.  But hey, I don't have these problems, so I'll readily admit that it's easy for me to pass judgement.

Right. If I was just meeting Pete by happenstance in a bar or something and he didn't want to be bothered, that would be understandable. But the whole thing was advertised as a "Hey, I'm going to be at these events at these cities on these dates to meet all you guys!" And it's not as if there's a ton a people. It was like 50 at most? Dude has a bunch of fans that made millions of dollars for Pete and he can't be bothered to take a posed picture with like 30 people? It seemed a bit disrespectful or at the very least aloof.
I guess that I don't see MMM as a "celebrity" or myself as a "fan". I like his blog, his writing style, what he says, and the forum. To me he is just a regular dude who will host a meet up. Like any other blog writer. So from my perspective it would seem kind of weird (and slightly invasive) to ask for a one-on-one photo with him. I wouldn't do that to anyone else who hosted a meet up that focused on the ideas they discussed in their blog. MMM isn't the star of the meet up - his ideas and blog are. But I do understand that he has reached celebrity status to many and having a photo taken with him personally to mark the occasion would be a cool thing.  But I don't think it is weird of him to chose to have a group photo to include everyone there at the meet up. To me that seems very normal.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: never give up on June 28, 2020, 01:38:59 AM
I guess this depends on what your definition of "approach" is. For me the MMM approach is about being mindful of the environment, being mindful of consumerism, and making changes to the typical wasteful relationship people have with money in order to save a much larger percentage of our income. This solves the two big problems of time and money that allows us to concentrate on happiness and things that we value.

It's a bit difficult to argue with that approach. People may not wish to follow it, or live life in that way, but the fact we are all on this forum means we are thinking about this stuff and are actively working to make our lives the best that they can be and to spend more of our time away from the rat race. So we are largely bought into this, employing our own version of it, and of course may have been doing this long before MMM was around.

This doesn't mean we have to agree with every single detail or every post on how we go about this. How many people in real life, friends, family etc do we have where we agree with absolutely everything they say? Probably none. I do find the posts about salad and exercise preventing all illness and disability as way off the mark, but it is aligned with the overall chirpy, positive and optimistic outlook that the MMM character provides. Control the 'controllables' is essentially the message there but of course, there is a lot in life that is out of our control.

The 'face punching' phrase I've always interpreted as cartoon style face punching. When someone gets hit five times in a row in a cartoon, there is no pain, no damage inflicted, but it has snapped them out of whatever they were doing beforehand I.e. it's harmless, and a way of providing impact to the writing style. It grabs attention and pulls people in. So I was never really offended at this.

I found this site because I was looking at buying a new car. I was recently mortgage free and had always been scared of investing. I had been to a couple of showrooms and rolled my eyes at some of the sales techniques. Being mortgage free had significantly increased my cashflow but despite this freedom my general frugal mindset prevented me from buying and I thought I would research how to buy a second hand car. (I had only bought one car before and this was brand new). I stumbled across one of MMM's car articles, found the post interesting and then found the page with all the posts from the beginning of time. I quickly realised this was not a site offering advice on how to buy a car but something much broader. One of the first articles I read was the 'Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement". I appreciate there are other articles containing this subject matter, and that the information was available elsewhere but seeing the table of working years until retirement changed my life. It literally changed my life. Like boom! This information can not be unseen. Whether I like it or not my life is now headed on a different course than it would have been if the table had not been seen.

I continued reading more posts on the site. Although it only felt like a few minutes when I next looked at the clock it was 4am. I had 90 minutes before I had to go to work. I must have been reading the site for in the region of 8 hours straight. I don't think there are very many writers that would make me do that. I've never read a single source like that before with no appreciation of time. There was no rationing out of the articles over the course of a few days or weeks. I just had to keep reading there and then. I appreciate there was a lot of self interest there. I was hooked because of what this approach to life could do for me. I suddenly realised there was a way out of work having been conditioned to accept that we worked until 65. I instantly made a load of changes (I'm single so only me to buy in) and overnight established an 80% savings rate that I have maintained ever since (I found the site in September 2017). The first decision was to cut my mileage and keep my existing car until it was at least 20 years old. So I am still yet to buy a second hand car :-)

Of course that table that got me hooked is based on the 4% rule. As it takes considerable time to reach FIRE I have kept reading and learning. I now see how brilliant that post is at pulling someone in and just making them aware that there actually is a FIRE number. From further research the 4% rule is not something I will be following. I don't disagree with anyone that does want to follow it. Some can be using 4% but have the ability to cut their expenses by 50% while others may only be able to cut by 5% and these are two completely different situations. So what actually does 4% mean? However I don't now disagree with the MMM approach just because I'm going to tailor a withdrawal rate to my own views on asset allocation and my own personal situation here in the UK. I'll do my own research and make decisions accordingly.

I was relatively frugal before my FIRE epiphany but this site has given me the confidence to invest. As a result I will have the opportunity to escape a full time stressful job 20 years early. I am very grateful to this MMM character. I don't see MMM or Pete as a celebrity. I'm not a 'fan' and in all likelihood we will never meet. I may not agree with everything on the main site but this random internet stranger that doesn't even know I exist has significantly impacted my life in a positive way, and not many can achieve something like that. Of course there are some wonderful people on the forums that I have actually got to know and interact directly with. The knowledge I have gained from them now far exceeds what I originally learned from MMM, but nevertheless indirectly introducing me to these people is another reason I have to be grateful to MMM.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: ctuser1 on June 28, 2020, 06:32:17 AM
I find this "site", and especially the forum very helpful.

I am not really a mustachian cult member in the sense that I have not gobbled up all MMM articles and I don't swear by them. I have always tried to be frugal (and generally always failed, by MMM standards). I was vaguely aware of MMM and his philosophy back in 2012/2013, but not the forum. Back then, I was working almost all of my waking hours to pause and think about an alternative approach to life like MMM.

Since then, I have taken a desk job. Life has slowed down a little bit. DW has settled into her job. We are out of the periodic 6-monthly crisis situation of "ok. who will watch the infants/toddlers next semester when you are in college, or work." since the kids are a tiny bit older now and both go to school.

And, I have started reading first, posting after that in the forums.

The very first thing that hit me as a freight train is the sub-200 grocery thread (thanks Apowers). The fact that was even humanly possible was an eye-opener. We still don't spend so little on groceries and don't expect to ever get to the $200 figure Apowers is capable of - but we have reduced a lot of wastage since I first read that.

Next was all manners of other waste in our lifestyle. I am about to try building a deck gate myself. The fact that I will even try to DIY is thanks to this site. Hopefully, in the next year or two, I'd have optimized all our unnecessary waste, and would have a much more uncluttered house and life to boot.

So, in general, the advice of the mustachian community has helped me a lot. I may disagree with bits and pieces here and there (e.g. I don't plan to do the RE part of FIRE, or that I don't subscribe to the validity of 4% SWR when it was only tested/designed for 30 years etc. etc.). But then, isn't that expected?

 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Buffaloski Boris on June 28, 2020, 06:48:28 AM
I disagree with MMM's approach as I disagree with the general FIRE approach generally - I'm not a fan of throwing money into the general stock market without examining what you're funding. Some companies I dislike, such as Amazon, and I don't want my money supporting them. But the general FIRE approach is to throw everything into VTSAX. Because VTSAX includes many companies who I believe do more harm than good, I don't support funding VTSAX as a means to achieving financial independence. There's a reason that the world is so messed up, and hypercapitalist greed is part of that.

What's a good alternative? I don't have a perfect answer. But I suspect that it involves investing in ethical companies that make real things and contribute to a prosperous, democratic world. Maybe VEIGX/VESGX would be good funds to finance. Or REITs. 

Good books to read on this are Bull**** Jobs, and The Soul of Money.

Thatís an interesting perspective and I like it. Hereís a suggestion: build your own index. Most of the big brokerages donít charge for trades anyway. Pick companies that you like, pick a lot of them to maximize diversification and minimize single company risk, and be sure not to ignore international. You can buy a surprising number of international companies on the NYSE or through ADRs. ESG is something of concern to you, so why not pull a list of ESG companies, pick the ones that meet YOUR criteria, and call it a day?   

Iím not a fan of VTSAX but for different reasons: I think itís far too heavily weighted to a few very large companies. Take a look at the VTSAX holdings by percentage. Why not just buy the 50 biggest stocks in the SP 500? Thatís what youíre buying anyway. When you build your own index, you can pick what you want and exclude what you want. And the management fees for the Effervescent index?  Zero. 0.000%

Avoiding investing in unethical companies is impractical (if you dig deep enough you can probably find a reason to exclude any company) and doesn't change anything. Unless you're buying at IPO you aren't putting more money in the pockets of the company by buying their stock. Some previous discussions:
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/investor-alley/ethical-implications-of-index-fund-investing/
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/investor-alley/new-vanguard-ethical-investment-funds/
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/investor-alley/are-index-funds-unethical/

I've read all of those threads. I disagree that avoiding investing in unethical stocks "doesn't change anything". If nothing else, I feel better about my place in the world knowing that I am not financing these companies, which improves my own life.

Like Boris mentioned above, index funds are also top-heavy, meaning Amazon, Facebook, Google, etc. are heavily weighted. I'd rather that my money go elsewhere.

I can see the merit in owning a company that you might find distasteful. If you don't own it somebody else will (by definition, all shares are owned by someone). At least if you own the shares you can vote at the company meetings. You can also take your dividend cheques and reinvest it elsewhere (thus actually reallocating capital to your favoured part of the economy). Selling shares doesn't do this.

If you don't own a piece of the company you can't really agitate for any change internally within the company. You are limited to applying pressure externally, such as what Unilever is doing with its advertising spend and pulling it from Facebook and Twitter.

Seems to me that we're allowing the perfect to be the enemy of the good.  Companies are keenly aware and interested in the price of their stock.  And most C-suite executive see a good chunk of their compensation tied to the stock price, directly or indirectly.  Investment and divestment does matter and does drive behavior.  We haven't seen it so much in the US, but ESG is a big deal overseas.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: DadJokes on June 28, 2020, 07:46:03 AM
Sure, we can complain about Pete's "facepunch" style, but it works. There's a reason that he's the biggest name in the FIRE-sphere, and it's the same reason Dave Ramsey is the biggest name in all of personal finance. It gets people's attention.

As a result, it brings more people in. That's not a bad thing.

It's only "not a bad thing" if you're aiming for clicks rather than a real understanding of what happiness is about. Happiness requires you to be not too judgmental of others. It requires happy relationships - not just with people whose views or practices you agree with. Happiness requires you to embrace diversity of views. I can't see how any outward face punching or clown car-labelling (even if done semi-tongue in cheek) is going to help that.

Of course, MMM might say that he is preaching environmentalism (doubt it with his Tesla though) or stoicism (again, doubt it, note his lavish spending in some areas of life) or asceticism...but none of those appeals to me. I'm here to try to discuss how to improve personal finances and how to be happy. And I think both of those things require mostly a non-judgmental approach where you do not cut down others for their choices unless strictly framed in a dollars-and-cents analysis (which requires you to know a fair bit of info about the other person).

Do you think the world is better or worse as a result of MMM's blog?

If not for MMM, I probably wouldn't know about FIRE, so he has had a very positive influence on my life. I enjoy his "facepunch" style. Since the savings rate is normally abominably low, some people need a facepunch.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Buffaloski Boris on June 28, 2020, 08:22:38 AM

Do you think the world is better or worse as a result of MMM's blog?

If not for MMM, I probably wouldn't know about FIRE, so he has had a very positive influence on my life. I enjoy his "facepunch" style. Since the savings rate is normally abominably low, some people need a facepunch.

Better.  Very much so.  We have hundreds of thousands of people working towards FI and living more intentional lives that weren't in the past.  And that's thanks to MMM's views or influence. Plus we have the forums, and they haven't even given me the boot yet!  How cool is that?  :-p

I don't have to agree with someone 100% of the time to be able to say: you done good.   Pete's done a whole lot of good.   
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: maisymouser on June 28, 2020, 08:46:03 AM
Continuing on the topic of insurance and health care, where I disagree with MMM's approach is that he has never used his massive platform to reveal to Americans the power of universal medicare to facilitate FI for the citizens in the countries that have it.
The for-profit health system is massively profitable to large corps, which is why they and their political handmaidens are so busy flat lying to Americans about how our Canadian system works and what it actually costs.

THIS. I can't believe MMM posts on how to "save on your cellphone bill" over "how to acheive FIRE with a chronic lifelong health condition(s)". Sure, eat healthy and exercise and all that, but multiple sclerosis doesn't exactly stop requiring medication if you eat well and lift weights. Thankfully this forum and others exist to help the FIRE-curious learn about what it takes. But dang Pete- you could be inspiring us to have a better system in place for all.

It's arguably the biggest barrier to FI for those of us who don't know how to pay for insurance premiums + deductibles + OOP limits on the open market after leaving a job even with a $1.5-2M stash at say, 40yo (not my situation but a reasonable example that could I could be in).
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on June 28, 2020, 08:58:07 AM
Hey I made it through 3 pages without seeing anyone mention my complaint.

I joined the forum circa 2012 or so when I was bored out of my mind at my internship just before graduating college. I was reading about how to retire early and voila, I ran into an article about MMM. I was instantly hooked. Not because of his silly writing style but because of the back of the napkin math. I also really enjoyed his posts on upgrading his house with better insulation, hot water pipes underneath the kitchen floor, etc. It was the perfect blend of a early retirement, home DIY, and personality.

I knew the blog was him putting on a bit of character, but I followed the blog for a long time. Probably for about 3-4 years. The last 4 years have really only been me using the forum. BUT! Spring 2017, MMM was making the rounds to different cities. So I was thinking "Of course I have to go out and meet this dude. He totally flipped my life upside down and gave me a goal and a path out of cubicle land". So I go to the MMM meetup in downtown Portland that was being held at the LearningTree HQ. I get there and meet a bunch of awesome people. I'm also waiting my turn to go up and maybe chat with Pete for like 5 minutes tell him that his ideas and blog basically allowed me and my SO to quit our jobs and take a sabbatical for a year to go overseas.

He seems like a pretty cool, chill dude. My SO really wants to take a picture with him. So before we say goodbye and a final thanks, SO asks for a picture. And he says "Yeah I don't really like taking pictures, it just feels fake to me." Then he kind of motions that we should instead take a candid picture with just him in the background somewhere. Honestly, for a dude that puts on such a ridiculous persona for a blog, suddenly in person didn't want to "feel fake".

It rubbed us the wrong way. We just came away from that interaction thinking "wow, MMM is a lot weirder than I imagined he would be". I still appreciate the forum and some of the old blog posts, but the thing I liked least about MMM was his poor fan interaction. I can't help but think of that moment whenever I'm reading his blog now: "I'm just reading the blog of some weird dude in Colorado."
Is that weird though? A lot of people don't like their pictures taken by and with people, especially random strangers, for a variety of personal reasons.  While MMM is a crafted persona, Pete is a "real boy" and may not be comfortable with the lack of control he has over photos people take with him. I'm a weirdo too. But then I'm not a famous internet blogger. Or am I ;)? No I'm not but am very private especially around Mustashians I've met who post here.

Count me among the people who HATE candid photos, particularly with people you barely know or are celebs or politicians or influencers. I do a fair bit with state and local government and it always makes me cringe a bit when someone says ďhey, letís get a photo of the group with the mayorĒ. Obviously other people desire such keepsakes, but I only want them if itís a relative or close friend
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: LWYRUP on June 28, 2020, 09:18:37 AM
I always assumed I was reading the blog of a somewhat dorky engineer from small town Colorado and not a polished celebrity.  That's a feature to me, not a bug.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: RetiredAt63 on June 28, 2020, 10:33:41 AM
Hey I made it through 3 pages without seeing anyone mention my complaint.

I joined the forum circa 2012 or so when I was bored out of my mind at my internship just before graduating college. I was reading about how to retire early and voila, I ran into an article about MMM. I was instantly hooked. Not because of his silly writing style but because of the back of the napkin math. I also really enjoyed his posts on upgrading his house with better insulation, hot water pipes underneath the kitchen floor, etc. It was the perfect blend of a early retirement, home DIY, and personality.

I knew the blog was him putting on a bit of character, but I followed the blog for a long time. Probably for about 3-4 years. The last 4 years have really only been me using the forum. BUT! Spring 2017, MMM was making the rounds to different cities. So I was thinking "Of course I have to go out and meet this dude. He totally flipped my life upside down and gave me a goal and a path out of cubicle land". So I go to the MMM meetup in downtown Portland that was being held at the LearningTree HQ. I get there and meet a bunch of awesome people. I'm also waiting my turn to go up and maybe chat with Pete for like 5 minutes tell him that his ideas and blog basically allowed me and my SO to quit our jobs and take a sabbatical for a year to go overseas.

He seems like a pretty cool, chill dude. My SO really wants to take a picture with him. So before we say goodbye and a final thanks, SO asks for a picture. And he says "Yeah I don't really like taking pictures, it just feels fake to me." Then he kind of motions that we should instead take a candid picture with just him in the background somewhere. Honestly, for a dude that puts on such a ridiculous persona for a blog, suddenly in person didn't want to "feel fake".

It rubbed us the wrong way. We just came away from that interaction thinking "wow, MMM is a lot weirder than I imagined he would be". I still appreciate the forum and some of the old blog posts, but the thing I liked least about MMM was his poor fan interaction. I can't help but think of that moment whenever I'm reading his blog now: "I'm just reading the blog of some weird dude in Colorado."
Is that weird though? A lot of people don't like their pictures taken by and with people, especially random strangers, for a variety of personal reasons.  While MMM is a crafted persona, Pete is a "real boy" and may not be comfortable with the lack of control he has over photos people take with him. I'm a weirdo too. But then I'm not a famous internet blogger. Or am I ;)? No I'm not but am very private especially around Mustashians I've met who post here.

Count me among the people who HATE candid photos, particularly with people you barely know or are celebs or politicians or influencers. I do a fair bit with state and local government and it always makes me cringe a bit when someone says ďhey, letís get a photo of the group with the mayorĒ. Obviously other people desire such keepsakes, but I only want them if itís a relative or close friend

And me.  I go hide in the back of the group.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: FIPurpose on June 28, 2020, 10:52:03 AM
Hey I made it through 3 pages without seeing anyone mention my complaint.

I joined the forum circa 2012 or so when I was bored out of my mind at my internship just before graduating college. I was reading about how to retire early and voila, I ran into an article about MMM. I was instantly hooked. Not because of his silly writing style but because of the back of the napkin math. I also really enjoyed his posts on upgrading his house with better insulation, hot water pipes underneath the kitchen floor, etc. It was the perfect blend of a early retirement, home DIY, and personality.

I knew the blog was him putting on a bit of character, but I followed the blog for a long time. Probably for about 3-4 years. The last 4 years have really only been me using the forum. BUT! Spring 2017, MMM was making the rounds to different cities. So I was thinking "Of course I have to go out and meet this dude. He totally flipped my life upside down and gave me a goal and a path out of cubicle land". So I go to the MMM meetup in downtown Portland that was being held at the LearningTree HQ. I get there and meet a bunch of awesome people. I'm also waiting my turn to go up and maybe chat with Pete for like 5 minutes tell him that his ideas and blog basically allowed me and my SO to quit our jobs and take a sabbatical for a year to go overseas.

He seems like a pretty cool, chill dude. My SO really wants to take a picture with him. So before we say goodbye and a final thanks, SO asks for a picture. And he says "Yeah I don't really like taking pictures, it just feels fake to me." Then he kind of motions that we should instead take a candid picture with just him in the background somewhere. Honestly, for a dude that puts on such a ridiculous persona for a blog, suddenly in person didn't want to "feel fake".

It rubbed us the wrong way. We just came away from that interaction thinking "wow, MMM is a lot weirder than I imagined he would be". I still appreciate the forum and some of the old blog posts, but the thing I liked least about MMM was his poor fan interaction. I can't help but think of that moment whenever I'm reading his blog now: "I'm just reading the blog of some weird dude in Colorado."
Is that weird though? A lot of people don't like their pictures taken by and with people, especially random strangers, for a variety of personal reasons.  While MMM is a crafted persona, Pete is a "real boy" and may not be comfortable with the lack of control he has over photos people take with him. I'm a weirdo too. But then I'm not a famous internet blogger. Or am I ;)? No I'm not but am very private especially around Mustashians I've met who post here.

Count me among the people who HATE candid photos, particularly with people you barely know or are celebs or politicians or influencers. I do a fair bit with state and local government and it always makes me cringe a bit when someone says ďhey, letís get a photo of the group with the mayorĒ. Obviously other people desire such keepsakes, but I only want them if itís a relative or close friend

1. There was no group photo

2. We were kind of taken aback by MMM's refusal for a photo, in fact, he stood there longer explaining why he doesn't do photos than just taking a photo would have been. And then went on to highly suggest just getting a photo like 5 feet away where he's kind of in the background. So a candid, not candid photo of him in it, just so that he gets to keep pretending that he "doesn't do photos" I guess.

It'd be like going to see an author who then refuses to sign your copy of the book because "they don't sign books", but they'll sign a sheet of paper that you can then append to your book. It's just a bit strange overall.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on June 28, 2020, 11:13:03 AM
Group photo, individual photo, Iím just not a fan. I donít like our cultural expectation that strangers can ask anyone with any amount of fame and ask/expect a photo or signature. The counter-argument (expresses above) is that it ďcomes with being famousĒ. I reject that idea. People ought to have the right to say ďnoĒ - famous or not.

Personally I donít want my image being posted on social media with someone I meet for five minutes and whoís name I canít remember
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: FIPurpose on June 28, 2020, 11:42:22 AM
Group photo, individual photo, Iím just not a fan. I donít like our cultural expectation that strangers can ask anyone with any amount of fame and ask/expect a photo or signature. The counter-argument (expresses above) is that it ďcomes with being famousĒ. I reject that idea. People ought to have the right to say ďnoĒ - famous or not.

Personally I donít want my image being posted on social media with someone I meet for five minutes and whoís name I canít remember

I feel like I must not be explaining the strangeness of this correctly. If Pete had just said, "yeah, please don't take a picture of me. I don't like having my picture on social media everywhere without my consent." I would have thought "yeah, that's cool man. I can dig that." and I wouldn't have thought twice about respecting that.

Instead he had this whole workaround in his head on how he won't do a photo, but you can get a photo with him in the background. And he was very willing to explain how this workaround works. All to what purpose? Not that he just doesn't want to be in a photo, but to maintain his own ego's expectation of "I don't do photos" because he's "real".

I get it. He's a D/E list celebrity and should have a reasonable expectation to anonymity. But "not wanting a photo" would be the normal reaction. The "mental workaround" is what I'm stating was the weird part.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: spartana on June 28, 2020, 12:49:20 PM
^Maybe it is as simple as he doesn't want to imply a "personal friend" relationship with any individual person he doesn't know and therefore a group photo is OK but a personal one isn't.  I've seen as forum member use a ppersonal photo of himself and MMM as his avatar on these forums and I thought it was inappropriate unless MMM gives consent. Even then it is easier to just to just nip it in the bud right away and avoid having to deal with the potential aftermath of "fans" coming out of the woodwork and posting photos of themselves with MMM as their BFF (or perhaps rich baby-daddy) on social media.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: lutorm on June 28, 2020, 01:07:10 PM
Most things have been said already, but my thoughts:
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: BicycleB on June 28, 2020, 02:51:23 PM
I guess this depends on what your definition of "approach" is. For me the MMM approach is about being mindful of the environment, being mindful of consumerism, and making changes to the typical wasteful relationship people have with money in order to save a much larger percentage of our income. This solves the two big problems of time and money that allows us to concentrate on happiness and things that we value.

It's a bit difficult to argue with that approach. People may not wish to follow it, or live life in that way, but the fact we are all on this forum means we are thinking about this stuff and are actively working to make our lives the best that they can be and to spend more of our time away from the rat race. So we are largely bought into this, employing our own version of it, and of course may have been doing this long before MMM was around.

This doesn't mean we have to agree with every single detail or every post on how we go about this. How many people in real life, friends, family etc do we have where we agree with absolutely everything they say? Probably none. I do find the posts about salad and exercise preventing all illness and disability as way off the mark, but it is aligned with the overall chirpy, positive and optimistic outlook that the MMM character provides. Control the 'controllables' is essentially the message there but of course, there is a lot in life that is out of our control.

The 'face punching' phrase I've always interpreted as cartoon style face punching. When someone gets hit five times in a row in a cartoon, there is no pain, no damage inflicted, but it has snapped them out of whatever they were doing beforehand I.e. it's harmless, and a way of providing impact to the writing style. It grabs attention and pulls people in. So I was never really offended at this.

I found this site because I was looking at buying a new car. I was recently mortgage free and had always been scared of investing. I had been to a couple of showrooms and rolled my eyes at some of the sales techniques. Being mortgage free had significantly increased my cashflow but despite this freedom my general frugal mindset prevented me from buying and I thought I would research how to buy a second hand car. (I had only bought one car before and this was brand new). I stumbled across one of MMM's car articles, found the post interesting and then found the page with all the posts from the beginning of time. I quickly realised this was not a site offering advice on how to buy a car but something much broader. One of the first articles I read was the 'Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement". I appreciate there are other articles containing this subject matter, and that the information was available elsewhere but seeing the table of working years until retirement changed my life. It literally changed my life. Like boom! This information can not be unseen. Whether I like it or not my life is now headed on a different course than it would have been if the table had not been seen.

I continued reading more posts on the site. Although it only felt like a few minutes when I next looked at the clock it was 4am. I had 90 minutes before I had to go to work. I must have been reading the site for in the region of 8 hours straight. I don't think there are very many writers that would make me do that. I've never read a single source like that before with no appreciation of time. There was no rationing out of the articles over the course of a few days or weeks. I just had to keep reading there and then. I appreciate there was a lot of self interest there. I was hooked because of what this approach to life could do for me. I suddenly realised there was a way out of work having been conditioned to accept that we worked until 65. I instantly made a load of changes (I'm single so only me to buy in) and overnight established an 80% savings rate that I have maintained ever since (I found the site in September 2017). The first decision was to cut my mileage and keep my existing car until it was at least 20 years old. So I am still yet to buy a second hand car :-)

Of course that table that got me hooked is based on the 4% rule. As it takes considerable time to reach FIRE I have kept reading and learning. I now see how brilliant that post is at pulling someone in and just making them aware that there actually is a FIRE number. From further research the 4% rule is not something I will be following. I don't disagree with anyone that does want to follow it. Some can be using 4% but have the ability to cut their expenses by 50% while others may only be able to cut by 5% and these are two completely different situations. So what actually does 4% mean? However I don't now disagree with the MMM approach just because I'm going to tailor a withdrawal rate to my own views on asset allocation and my own personal situation here in the UK. I'll do my own research and make decisions accordingly.

I was relatively frugal before my FIRE epiphany but this site has given me the confidence to invest. As a result I will have the opportunity to escape a full time stressful job 20 years early. I am very grateful to this MMM character. I don't see MMM or Pete as a celebrity. I'm not a 'fan' and in all likelihood we will never meet. I may not agree with everything on the main site but this random internet stranger that doesn't even know I exist has significantly impacted my life in a positive way, and not many can achieve something like that. Of course there are some wonderful people on the forums that I have actually got to know and interact directly with. The knowledge I have gained from them now far exceeds what I originally learned from MMM, but nevertheless indirectly introducing me to these people is another reason I have to be grateful to MMM.

Great post, @never give up! Ran across it on the "the best post I saw in the Mr. money mustache forums today was" thread, dropped in to thank you in the post's native thread.

Which I hadn't seen before...very illuminating discussion. Glad we have so many approaches to this approach.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: never give up on June 28, 2020, 03:42:39 PM
Thanks @BicycleB. If there was a "daftest post I saw on the forums today" thread I may have got a few more mentions but I never thought I'd make the "best post" thread. How funny. Perhaps ironically I should now retire from posting here and go out on a high :-)

You're right it's an interesting thread this one. I never grow bored of hearing how people tailor the core approach to their own situation, prioritise their spending based on their values and employ an investing strategy that they feel comfortable with.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: RWD on June 28, 2020, 07:40:39 PM
  • On towing, one thing other that's different between Europe and America is that manual transmissions are much more common in Europe. Since they are more efficient than automatics, they don't overheat from towing. I grew up in Sweden where literally everyone pulls a trailer behind their Volvo and the idea of a "transmission cooler" for towing didn't exist. And as far as "why tow with a small car because you negate all the efficiency advantages of a small car", that's exactly backwards. By towing with a small car, you get those advantages at all times except when towing. If you get a giant SUV because you sometimes need to tow something, you pay for that inefficiency all the time.
The main difference between Europe and America towing with small vehicles is the center of balance. In Europe the balance allows you to tow more but in exchange you must drive slower for the load to stay stable. In America you can tow at a faster speed (good for interstates) but as a trade-off the weight limit is lower. Detailed info:
https://oppositelock.kinja.com/tow-me-down-1609112611
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: ender on June 28, 2020, 08:36:01 PM
When talking about finances with folks, I almost always link to the "Shockingly Simple Math" article. I also tell people I don't really read most of his stuff newer than that or even think it's very useful (just somewhat entertaining). Probably because as an engineer, the numbers tell the story far more than the hyperbole or pretentious attitude he adopts. And most of the content in the last... 6-7 years really is fluff around some really key basic concepts.

Similar to how I often refer people to Dave Ramsey who are "ready" for him, I use MMM as a "intro to FIRE." But it's only the emotional hook that is important - if you want the mechanics or the details, I don't think either of those are best in their genre. But only once you've started drinking the cool-aid.

I also disagree pretty strongly with him lumping "business expenses" into a separate budget item and then claiming a personal budget yearly spend. It feels pretty dishonest to me to do so and honestly it's completely orthogonal to the entire points he tries to make. It's not needed at all and just makes him seem like a fraud to me because it's such a misleading way to report.

And last just relates to a lack of empathy on his part about people's motivations and circumstances. I don't know if this is a reflection of privilege on his part or  the intentional brand but a lot of his posts seem to assume that you both have no constraints on your life/choices and want/value (or should) the same thing as him. And if you don't, you're an idiot.

On the forums, it feels like we've all collectively reacted to this by making MMM "philosophy" (if such a thing exists) be much more about mindful, intentional spending rather than the things MMM himself expresses. Which sort of indicates I am not alone in feeling this.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Manchester on June 29, 2020, 05:04:43 AM
Hmm, I'm not a huge fan on topics such as this.  I feel that knit-picking the negatives in an overtly positive blog is counter-productive.  Whether you like his hyperbolic writing style or not, it's clearly the most read and most successful blog in the personal finance sphere.

- In Britain we have the National Health Service, we have to insure our homes to get a mortgage and our cars must be insured to be road legal.  So insurance is a non-issue here.  I think in America I'd personally add insurance into my FIRE number.

- As someone who isn't frugal by this forum's standards, I'm not offended by the idea of 'Face Punches'.  It's a comical and entertaining way of bringing the reader to a realisation of their finances.  I don't think he ever really implies that we should point out our acquaintances' spending errors, but some people do.  It's similar to family members giving unwanted parental advice, unwanted fashion advice from friends etc.  People sticking their oar in is a part of life and when you frequent a forum such as this, it's unavoidable as it's the main topic of discussion.

- I don't think he should post more about race-related or political subjects.  Everyone's views are different and as his political views are not the subject of his blog, then why risk alienating readers with something unrelated.

- He's produced a ton of free content that helps educate people.  He doesn't owe his readers anything (pictures).  He's gained his money because he gave us something.  That's not to say he couldn't have given a selfie, it does seem unnecessarily awkward and peculiar in the example mentioned above.  I met Noel Gallagher at a football match once.  I asked for a picture and he turned to me and told me to F off.  Never meet your heroes and all that.  :P

I don't know if Pete even reads or posts on the blog.  I know the OP hasn't meant to offend anyone, but it seems a bit unfair to create a thread where people voice criticisms about him as a person.  Whether you like him or not, he isn't advising anyone to do anything he hasn't done himself. 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on June 29, 2020, 05:20:34 AM
Group photo, individual photo, Iím just not a fan. I donít like our cultural expectation that strangers can ask anyone with any amount of fame and ask/expect a photo or signature. The counter-argument (expresses above) is that it ďcomes with being famousĒ. I reject that idea. People ought to have the right to say ďnoĒ - famous or not.

Personally I donít want my image being posted on social media with someone I meet for five minutes and whoís name I canít remember

I feel like I must not be explaining the strangeness of this correctly. If Pete had just said, "yeah, please don't take a picture of me. I don't like having my picture on social media everywhere without my consent." I would have thought "yeah, that's cool man. I can dig that." and I wouldn't have thought twice about respecting that.

Instead he had this whole workaround in his head on how he won't do a photo, but you can get a photo with him in the background. And he was very willing to explain how this workaround works. All to what purpose? Not that he just doesn't want to be in a photo, but to maintain his own ego's expectation of "I don't do photos" because he's "real".

I get it. He's a D/E list celebrity and should have a reasonable expectation to anonymity. But "not wanting a photo" would be the normal reaction. The "mental workaround" is what I'm stating was the weird part.

Fair enough.  Obviously you were there and I wasnít, and I canít say much about how awkward or strange the whole work around was. I can understand how it was off putting for you when he could have just said ďIíd prefer not to have my photo takenĒ.

In the same vein, maybe it was just an awkward moment for Pete.  Instead of a canned ďno photosĒ response maybe he was going for a joke Or something more philosophical that bombed or it just sounded better in his head.  Who knows.  Iím sorry it was an odd moment for you... it does suck when you finally meet someone you respect and it doesntí go well.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: marty998 on June 29, 2020, 06:12:01 AM

  • On the point about owning index funds and thus supporting companies with which I disagree (for me, mostly the fossil fuel industry), I used to also think I shouldn't "support them". But owning a company pays me money, not them. If I owned individual stocks, the situation is a bit different because then I would have the direct conflict between "man I really want to stop coal extraction but then my Peabody stocks will tank". When you own an index fund, the companies that fail will just drop out of the index. So yes, there's a tiny drag on my portfolio but it doesn't impact my behavior. In the meantime, while I work to make them fail by buying as little gas as possible, I don't see why their profits should go to anyone else.


Peabody bought our state government and stacked the environmental approval panel with its own paid lackeys to have a longwall coal mine approved UNDERNEATH THE DAM that supplies my drinking water.

Fuck that company and everything associated with it. There is a special place in hell for them. May they rot.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: vand on June 29, 2020, 07:09:01 AM
The list of things I think MMM is wrong about is very short, and most of them are related to Elon Musk.  There's one big thing that I might get stoned to death for.  It's the 4% rule. 

MMM (like the other thousand or so FIRE bloggers) frequently cites that if your yearly spending is 4% of your net worth or less, you have enough that your money will last forever.  Except the guy who originally made the 4% rule never said that.  He said it means your money will most likely last 30 years.  He was studying conventional retirement, during a time when living past age 90 was almost unheard of so he decided that the 4% rule means it's safe to retire at 60.  The shockingly simple math behind early conventional retirement.

I understand that most early retirees find themselves doing part-time work, or finding some unconventional way to make money to fill the gap.  I also understand that an actual safe withdrawal rate is only like half a percentage point lower.  I still think it is irresponsible to tell people they can apply the 4% rule to something it was never meant for in the first place, and to make it a centerpiece of the blog.

No, there's nothing at all wrong with you recognising the limitations of the 4% rule guide.
In finance and investing there are no absolutes because we are dealing with the future, which is unknowable. The past can be our guide, but it is not a guarantee.

A popular myth on this forum (not sure if it's MMM's own position) is that stocks are almost certain to outperform bonds and everything else over the course of your investing career during accumulation.. after all, that is why everyone holds more stocks than anything else, right? Well you might be surprised if you count the number of years between now and your expected FI date how often stocks have underperformed bonds, and even cash over that number of years..
https://awealthofcommonsense.com/2020/06/how-often-do-long-term-bonds-beat-stocks/

(https://awealthofcommonsense.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Annotation-2020-06-25-133356.jpg)

(https://awealthofcommonsense.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Annotation-2020-06-25-134740.jpg)
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mathlete on June 29, 2020, 07:16:29 AM
@vand unless Iím misreading your charts, doesnít that say that over every time horizon, stocks win more often than not?

I think thereís good reason (volatility) to hold bonds and cash in some situations of course, but I think the idea behind ďstocks above allĒ is that very few people can identify when weíre in the universe where bonds will beat stocks. If you canít do that, youíd might as well go with the answer that is usually correct.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: sherr on June 29, 2020, 07:43:58 AM
A popular myth on this forum (not sure if it's MMM's own position) is that stocks are almost certain to outperform bonds and everything else over the course of your investing career during accumulation.. after all, that is why everyone holds more stocks than anything else, right? Well you might be surprised if you count the number of years between now and your expected FI date how often stocks have underperformed bonds, and even cash over that number of years..

This seems to me to be an incorrect way to look at the situation. Who cares what the chance is that a stock-heavy portfolio is not the optimal return path for the next X years until your ER goal date? Worst possible case is that when that date rolls around you simply choose to keep working for another year or two until you actually hit your number. Are you expecting people to who had a bond-heavy portfolio to suddenly switch into a stock-heavy-portfolio when they retire?

What matters is what the total lifetime return on your portfolio is, because that's what's going to keep you out of the poorhouse when you're 90. I'm definitely not arguing against diversification, but your graphics seem to be demonstrating the exact opposite thing than the point you're trying to make.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on June 29, 2020, 08:02:33 AM
I think it's even simpler than that: the graphic doesn't provide enough information to make a strong case one way or the other.

It doesnt' really matter that Bonds beat Stocks 27.8% of the time over a 5-year period.  It's good to know but it doesn't allow us to form a firm decision on what do with our money.  By HOW MUCH is equally important.  Ultimately time-to-retirement is also not directly applicable to that graphic, as it matters much less how long it will be until I retire as it does how long I plan on being alive. Even with traditional retirees their time-frame is more likely to be in the ≥20 year block than the 1 year block.

I've read enough data simulations and investor studies to know that some bonds heading into retirement are a good thing, and that total returns are comparable with less volatility holding a blended portfolio. 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: vand on June 29, 2020, 08:12:32 AM
@vand unless Iím misreading your charts, doesnít that say that over every time horizon, stocks win more often than not?

I think thereís good reason (volatility) to hold bonds and cash in some situations of course, but I think the idea behind ďstocks above allĒ is that very few people can identify when weíre in the universe where bonds will beat stocks. If you canít do that, youíd might as well go with the answer that is usually correct.

Yes, "more often than not" is correct.. but would you put all your eggs in that basket? People are of course free to invest as they wish, but imo it doesn't make much sense that if you have a high saving rate and are on course to hit your FI number in a relatively short timeframe that you would be in such a hurry to hold a very risky portfolio (eg 100% stocks) like we often see. Why do that, when the majority of the heavy lifting is going to be done through your own contributions to the portfolio, rather than through long term compounding?

There is significant risk that an all-stock portfolio is going to underperform over as long as 2 decades - it just seems like a typical human failing that people are not willing to accept a 5% risk of falling out of the 4% rule's portfolio survival rate but are conversely very willing to accept a 20-30% chance of their portfolio underperforming during accumulation by being so heavily in stocks.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on June 29, 2020, 08:17:16 AM
@vand unless Iím misreading your charts, doesnít that say that over every time horizon, stocks win more often than not?

I think thereís good reason (volatility) to hold bonds and cash in some situations of course, but I think the idea behind ďstocks above allĒ is that very few people can identify when weíre in the universe where bonds will beat stocks. If you canít do that, youíd might as well go with the answer that is usually correct.

Yes, "more often than not" is correct.. but would you put all your eggs in that basket?

Well the counter-argument to this seems to be: would you bet on something which happens a small minority of the time?
Every time someone points out that there have been 20y periods when bonds outpaced stocks (~9% of all such periods) to emphasize owning bonds, it seems logical to say: which odds would you prefer - one that wins 91% of the time or 9%?

Further complicating such matters is that those periods when bonds outpaced stocks, it did so by a very narrow margin (i believe it is ~1% per annum).  Whereas the median difference among the majorioty of cases where stocks outpaced bonds it did so by 4x as much.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: vand on June 29, 2020, 08:19:45 AM

What matters is what the total lifetime return on your portfolio is, because that's what's going to keep you out of the poorhouse when you're 90. I'm definitely not arguing against diversification, but your graphics seem to be demonstrating the exact opposite thing than the point you're trying to make.

This is a very dangerous statement, and this is where you need to dig deeper - the stability and predictability of your portfolio matters just as much as the long term CAGR % when you are making regular withdrawals from it. It can easily be demonstrated that a portfolio with more stable but lower growth rate survives better in decumulation than a portfolio with higher return but also higher volatility... this is why the 4% rule thread runs to as many pages as it does. It's not just about growth rate during decumulation.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Chris Pascale on June 29, 2020, 08:26:15 AM
2nd hand story:

There was a speech by another FI person who told Pete he wanted to chill like him, but also wanted to change the world like Elon Musk. Pete, according to this guy, said, "be like Elon Musk for an hour a week," or something like that.

You don't get to Mars on your own at 1 hour a week. You don't generally get anything done at 1 hour a week. You either go more-than-neck-deep, or you abandon the project, or you fund someone else doing it.

I had a science experiment I wanted to pursue (I'm not anything close to a scientist), and my wife and I were talking over a full retirement to a LCOLA, and setting up my own lab in our home. As we talked it through, I thought maybe I'd also teach business at a nearby college, and, of course, I'd be writing, and then I realized that if I wasn't willing to at least consider giving up everything, I'd be wasting my time and money while uprooting everyone when we've finally settled into our current community.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: sherr on June 29, 2020, 08:28:08 AM

What matters is what the total lifetime return on your portfolio is, because that's what's going to keep you out of the poorhouse when you're 90. I'm definitely not arguing against diversification, but your graphics seem to be demonstrating the exact opposite thing than the point you're trying to make.

This is a very dangerous statement, and this is where you need to dig deeper - the stability and predictability of your portfolio matters just as much as the long term CAGR % when you are making regular withdrawals from it. It can easily be demonstrated that a portfolio with more stable but lower growth rate survives better in decumulation than a portfolio with higher return but also higher volatility... this is why the 4% rule thread runs to as many pages as it does. It's not just about growth rate during decumulation.

Again, I'm definitely not arguing against diversification. I guess I just don't understand the point you're trying to make.

If you're 1 year from your expected RE date the fact that there's a 37.5% chance that long-term bonds outperform stocks in that 1 year seems completely irrelevant to me. I'm personally following a bond-tent strategy to reduce Sequence Of Return Risk, is that all you're trying to suggest that people do?
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: BicycleB on June 29, 2020, 08:32:42 AM
@vand, thanks for the charts and article. The article is a great summary - just sent link to a friend.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: vand on June 29, 2020, 08:42:36 AM
@vand unless Iím misreading your charts, doesnít that say that over every time horizon, stocks win more often than not?

I think thereís good reason (volatility) to hold bonds and cash in some situations of course, but I think the idea behind ďstocks above allĒ is that very few people can identify when weíre in the universe where bonds will beat stocks. If you canít do that, youíd might as well go with the answer that is usually correct.

Yes, "more often than not" is correct.. but would you put all your eggs in that basket?

Well the counter-argument to this seems to be: would you bet on something which happens a small minority of the time?
Every time someone points out that there have been 20y periods when bonds outpaced stocks (~9% of all such periods) to emphasize owning bonds, it seems logical to say: which odds would you prefer - one that wins 91% of the time or 9%?

Further complicating such matters is that those periods when bonds outpaced stocks, it did so by a very narrow margin (i believe it is ~1% per annum).  Whereas the median difference among the majorioty of cases where stocks outpaced bonds it did so by 4x as much.

Yes, this all comes down to risk. Stocks tend to beat bonds increasingly the longer you hold them but they are also more volatility and suffer bigger drawdowns. Therefore, because of the uncertainty that life throws our way, you may want to carry more bonds in case the worst happens and you are forced to liquidate assets at inopportune moments. Even if you say that you have no plans to sell anything in the next 40 years and so a 100% stock portfolio is most suitable, life doesn't unfold on a spreadsheet and so there is always a risk that you may need to abandon that plan.

And the social scientists have known for a long time that investors feel the hurt of losses more than they feel the upside of gains - by a factor of about x2.5 times. Therefore its not just a mathematical "highest expected return" solution here. How you feel about your investments and how easily it lets you sleep at night is just as important as how well it performs in backtested models.. because the studies all show that investor behaviour is the most important factor in long term investing success.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mathlete on June 29, 2020, 08:48:17 AM
@vand unless Iím misreading your charts, doesnít that say that over every time horizon, stocks win more often than not?

I think thereís good reason (volatility) to hold bonds and cash in some situations of course, but I think the idea behind ďstocks above allĒ is that very few people can identify when weíre in the universe where bonds will beat stocks. If you canít do that, youíd might as well go with the answer that is usually correct.

Yes, "more often than not" is correct.. but would you put all your eggs in that basket? People are of course free to invest as they wish, but imo it doesn't make much sense that if you have a high saving rate and are on course to hit your FI number in a relatively short timeframe that you would be in such a hurry to hold a very risky portfolio (eg 100% stocks) like we often see. Why do that, when the majority of the heavy lifting is going to be done through your own contributions to the portfolio, rather than through long term compounding?

There is significant risk that an all-stock portfolio is going to underperform over as long as 2 decades - it just seems like a typical human failing that people are not willing to accept a 5% risk of falling out of the 4% rule's portfolio survival rate but are conversely very willing to accept a 20-30% chance of their portfolio underperforming during accumulation by being so heavily in stocks.

I'm definitely picking up what you're putting down here, and I've actually made similar arguments in the past. Short term volatility is important, especially when you're talking about a really short working career.

The bold is rather interesting too. We love having the "pay off mortgage" debate around here, but the reality is that if your goal is to retire in your mid-30s to early 40s, the margin you get/give up by leveraging 3-4% house debt to invest in 8-9% returns doesn't add up to much. You need to work longer and stay invested longer for that kind of thing to pay off.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on June 29, 2020, 08:49:00 AM
@vand unless Iím misreading your charts, doesnít that say that over every time horizon, stocks win more often than not?

I think thereís good reason (volatility) to hold bonds and cash in some situations of course, but I think the idea behind ďstocks above allĒ is that very few people can identify when weíre in the universe where bonds will beat stocks. If you canít do that, youíd might as well go with the answer that is usually correct.

Yes, "more often than not" is correct.. but would you put all your eggs in that basket?

Well the counter-argument to this seems to be: would you bet on something which happens a small minority of the time?
Every time someone points out that there have been 20y periods when bonds outpaced stocks (~9% of all such periods) to emphasize owning bonds, it seems logical to say: which odds would you prefer - one that wins 91% of the time or 9%?

Further complicating such matters is that those periods when bonds outpaced stocks, it did so by a very narrow margin (i believe it is ~1% per annum).  Whereas the median difference among the majorioty of cases where stocks outpaced bonds it did so by 4x as much.

Yes, this all comes down to risk. Stocks tend to beat bonds increasingly the longer you hold them but they are also more volatility and suffer bigger drawdowns. Therefore, because of the uncertainty that life throws our way, you may want to carry more bonds in case the worst happens and you are forced to liquidate assets at inopportune moments. Even if you say that you have no plans to sell anything in the next 40 years and so a 100% stock portfolio is most suitable, life doesn't unfold on a spreadsheet and so there is always a risk that you may need to abandon that plan.

And the social scientists have known for a long time that investors feel the hurt of losses more than they feel the upside of gains - by a factor of about x2.5 times. Therefore its not just a mathematical "highest expected return" solution here. How you feel about your investments and how easily it lets you sleep at night is just as important as how well it performs in backtested models.. because the studies all show that investor behaviour is the most important factor in long term investing success.

I don't think anyone here is arguing with you about that.  It just seems that 1) your supplied graphic doesn't make this point (at least no eloquently) and 2) you are attributing a stocks-only approach to Pete when he's said far more on the matter than you indicate.

Yes, owning some bonds can be a very good thing.  yes behavior trumps all else - if you can't follow your path it doesn't matter how great that strategy is on paper.  Yes Pete has discussed the psychological side of investing and how to not to panic many times.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mathlete on June 29, 2020, 08:54:50 AM
Yeah the "VGSAX is infallible" line of thinking is more pervasive in the forums than it is in any of the classic MMM writings.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: slappy on June 29, 2020, 09:06:08 AM
Yeah the "VGSAX is infallible" line of thinking is more pervasive in the forums than it is in any of the classic MMM writings.

Are you familiar with ChooseFI? VTSAX is practically a religion over there. It scares me a bit.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mathlete on June 29, 2020, 09:07:28 AM
Yeah the "VGSAX is infallible" line of thinking is more pervasive in the forums than it is in any of the classic MMM writings.

Are you familiar with ChooseFI? VTSAX is practically a religion over there. It scares me a bit.

Hahaha, I'm not familiar. But I know the type. It's not bad advice at least. The collective value of US companies seems pretty strong, and DCA smooths out some volatility anyway.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: ender on June 29, 2020, 09:12:37 AM
What matters is what the total lifetime return on your portfolio is, because that's what's going to keep you out of the poorhouse when you're 90. I'm definitely not arguing against diversification, but your graphics seem to be demonstrating the exact opposite thing than the point you're trying to make.

This isn't true.

I could come up with a lot of very high lifetime return scenarios that fail. Sequence of returns risk is one of the largest risks for an early retiree.

Meanwhile, a 4-5% CAGR is by definition guaranteed to support a 4% SWR indefinitely.

The way I'm personally planning on reconciling this is to take as much advantage of tax advantaged accounts (401k, IRAs, HSA) and then dump extra cash into my mortgage. This defacto results in a larger bond portion of my portfolio during my accumulation years.

It would be really interesting to see some analysis on whether this benefits your FIRE date - paying down a mortgage throughout accumulation - and right before you FIRE, doing a cash out refinance to then invest all that money.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: BicycleB on June 29, 2020, 09:14:11 AM
Yeah the "VGSAX is infallible" line of thinking is more pervasive in the forums than it is in any of the classic MMM writings.

VGSAX? (Virtus Duff & Phelps Global Real Estate)

VASGX? (Vanguard LifeStrategy Growth Fund)

VSGAX? (Vanguard Smallcap Growth Admiral Index)

VTSAX? (Vanguard Total Stock Market Index)

Just curious :)
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: sherr on June 29, 2020, 09:24:09 AM
What matters is what the total lifetime return on your portfolio is, because that's what's going to keep you out of the poorhouse when you're 90. I'm definitely not arguing against diversification, but your graphics seem to be demonstrating the exact opposite thing than the point you're trying to make.

This isn't true.

I could come up with a lot of very high lifetime return scenarios that fail. Sequence of returns risk is one of the largest risks for an early retiree.

Agreed, see above where I say I'm doing a bond-tent to reduce SORR. I just don't see how this is related to vand's post.

The way I'm personally planning on reconciling this is to take as much advantage of tax advantaged accounts (401k, IRAs, HSA) and then dump extra cash into my mortgage. This defacto results in a larger bond portion of my portfolio during my accumulation years.

It would be really interesting to see some analysis on whether this benefits your FIRE date - paying down a mortgage throughout accumulation - and right before you FIRE, doing a cash out refinance to then invest all that money.

Or just don't do a cash-out refi and instead account for your paid-off home as part of your "bond" portion of your diversified portfolio. Lower living expenses = lower required distributions during the down years ~= doing the work of the "bonds" part of your portfolio. You only need to do the cash-out refi if you want to truly be 100% stocks, which seems surprising given what you wrote above.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mathlete on June 29, 2020, 09:26:14 AM
Yeah the "VGSAX is infallible" line of thinking is more pervasive in the forums than it is in any of the classic MMM writings.

VGSAX? (Virtus Duff & Phelps Global Real Estate)

VASGX? (Vanguard LifeStrategy Growth Fund)

VSGAX? (Vanguard Smallcap Growth Admiral Index)

VTSAX? (Vanguard Total Stock Market Index)

Just curious :)

Hahaha. VTSAX.

Better?
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: MilesTeg on June 29, 2020, 10:04:24 AM
One thing I disagree with is buying cheap garbage instead of high quality products. This is more something I see on the forum, but MMM does it to. For example, he endorses Harbor Freight Tools which are complete and utter garbage (and on not rare
occasion they are such garbage that they are likely to cause injury or death even when properly used).

https://www.nhtsa.gov/press-releases/consumer-advisory-harbor-freight-jack-stands

If something is worth buying it's worth buying good quality -- even if you aren't risking life and limb. If good quality is too much expense for your use case you probably shouldn't be buying. In the case of tools, that means renting or borrowing.

Another example: I will never, ever buy cheap clothes again. I can't remember how many $10-15 shirts I've had to donate over the years because they shrank from too big to too small in only 2 or 3 washes. Now I buy $30 shirts, and they last hundreds of washings and only get demoted to rags due to damage or stains.

Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: ericrugiero on June 29, 2020, 10:18:58 AM
There are a few things that MMM posts that I tend to disagree with but none of them are major enough to bother me.  I really appreciate his blog in general as I think he has helped a lot of people (including me) to realize that it's possible to design your life to focus on what's important to you and not be locked into a traditional retire at 60+ working career.  Prior to reading his blog, I always thought I would have to work till 60 and then retire with more money than I needed.  The items I tend to disagree with include:
-He leans much further left on the political spectrum than me.  It's been good for me to understand more of the beliefs and though processes of people I don't agree with.
-I don't totally agree with his stance on not giving his kids wealth so they can earn their own way.  I'd like to give mine a head start while not giving them an entitled/lazy mindset.  It's a delicate balance that I still have time to think through. 
-I won't be skipping out on either home or health insurance like he does.  The health insurance seems particularly risky. 
None of these are a big deal to me and I very much appreciate his thought provoking and entertaining posts. 


A popular myth on this forum (not sure if it's MMM's own position) is that stocks are almost certain to outperform bonds and everything else over the course of your investing career during accumulation.. after all, that is why everyone holds more stocks than anything else, right? Well you might be surprised if you count the number of years between now and your expected FI date how often stocks have underperformed bonds, and even cash over that number of years..
https://awealthofcommonsense.com/2020/06/how-often-do-long-term-bonds-beat-stocks/

(https://awealthofcommonsense.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Annotation-2020-06-25-133356.jpg)

(https://awealthofcommonsense.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Annotation-2020-06-25-134740.jpg)
Lets say my retirement is 10 years out and I plan to live another 40 years.  My investing career is 50 years so 100% stocks is "probably" best but in the early years of my retirement I would choose to do some % of bonds and cash to reduce the sequence of returns risk.  Over the 10 years leading up to retirement, I will probably choose to stay close to 100% stocks and play the odds that it will work out for me.  If stocks perform poorly, I might work a little longer.  If they do well, I might work less.  The odds are in my favor (83-85% according to your link), I just need to understand and accept the risks.   

Right now, I probably have 5-10 years before I have the option to retire.   I will probably start to transition to more cash and bonds in the last year or two before my anticipated retirement.  A market drop between now and retirement doesn't scare me but an extended drop right after is much more worrisome.  I lost zero sleep over my 401K balance (~97% equities) due to the covid crash because I don't need the money yet.  Post retirement mindset will be much different and I will probably invest more conservatively (60/40 stocks and bonds with a years cash sounds reasonable right now).
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Morning Glory on June 29, 2020, 11:54:46 AM
One thing I disagree with is buying cheap garbage instead of high quality products. This is more something I see on the forum, but MMM does it to. For example, he endorses Harbor Freight Tools which are complete and utter garbage (and on not rare
occasion they are such garbage that they are likely to cause injury or death even when properly used).

https://www.nhtsa.gov/press-releases/consumer-advisory-harbor-freight-jack-stands

If something is worth buying it's worth buying good quality -- even if you aren't risking life and limb. If good quality is too much expense for your use case you probably shouldn't be buying. In the case of tools, that means renting or borrowing.

Another example: I will never, ever buy cheap clothes again. I can't remember how many $10-15 shirts I've had to donate over the years because they shrank from too big to too small in only 2 or 3 washes. Now I buy $30 shirts, and they last hundreds of washings and only get demoted to rags due to damage or stains.

HF guarantees their hand tools and will exchange them no questions asked if they break.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on June 29, 2020, 12:10:02 PM
One thing I disagree with is buying cheap garbage instead of high quality products. This is more something I see on the forum, but MMM does it to. For example, he endorses Harbor Freight Tools which are complete and utter garbage (and on not rare
occasion they are such garbage that they are likely to cause injury or death even when properly used).

https://www.nhtsa.gov/press-releases/consumer-advisory-harbor-freight-jack-stands

If something is worth buying it's worth buying good quality -- even if you aren't risking life and limb. If good quality is too much expense for your use case you probably shouldn't be buying. In the case of tools, that means renting or borrowing.

Another example: I will never, ever buy cheap clothes again. I can't remember how many $10-15 shirts I've had to donate over the years because they shrank from too big to too small in only 2 or 3 washes. Now I buy $30 shirts, and they last hundreds of washings and only get demoted to rags due to damage or stains.

HF guarantees their hand tools and will exchange them no questions asked if they break.

For tools I'll use repeatedly I will spend money on quality.  For a one-off job I have no qualms recommending Harbor Fright.  We use them frequently for remote field stations where the cost of transport and the exposed environment means any tools won't come back with us. FOr us they've held up just find for intense but short (couple of week) projects.

I've encountered safety recalls on lots of tools from lots of brands.  HF doesn't seem more (or less) prone than others.  Everything sold in the US is required to be underwritten, usually by UL.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: John Galt incarnate! on June 29, 2020, 01:24:12 PM

I don't totally agree with his stance on not giving his kids wealth so they can earn their own way.

I  am in firm disagreement  with anyone who holds this view of a parent's or parents' legacy for their children.

My unvarnished opinion is that a parent or parents who enjoyed an easy life ought to ensure that  their legacy provides the same for their beloved children.

I reject the proposition that a meager legacy, that requires one's children to work instead of an abundant  legacy that does not,  is ipso facto,  superior and more beneficial for the children.



Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mathlete on June 29, 2020, 01:49:03 PM
Not sure I've ever read MMM's thoughts on passing down money. Is this for inheritances? Or for things like college/opportunities/connections/financial help?
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on June 29, 2020, 01:58:00 PM
Not sure I've ever read MMM's thoughts on passing down money. Is this for inheritances? Or for things like college/opportunities/connections/financial help?

Some of his thoughts were covered in this blog post:
 https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2015/05/20/what-im-teaching-my-son-about-money/ (https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2015/05/20/what-im-teaching-my-son-about-money/)

It seems like a well reasoned and researched position, and not at all an ipso facto conclusion that inheretence is negative.  Reading through it one will notice that heís actually helping his son a great deal - including financially (one example is rewarding him for Ďinvestingí his earnings by providing him with a guaranteed return).  Itís a more nuanced argument about teaching him the skills and behaviors to be successful rather than just pushing him out into the world on his own.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Psychstache on June 29, 2020, 02:07:48 PM
Not sure I've ever read MMM's thoughts on passing down money. Is this for inheritances? Or for things like college/opportunities/connections/financial help?

Some of his thoughts were covered in this blog post:
 https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2015/05/20/what-im-teaching-my-son-about-money/ (https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2015/05/20/what-im-teaching-my-son-about-money/)

It seems like a well reasoned and researched position, and not at all an ipso facto conclusion that inheretence is negative.  Reading through it one will notice that heís actually helping his son a great deal - including financially (one example is rewarding him for Ďinvestingí his earnings by providing him with a guaranteed return).  Itís a more nuanced argument about teaching him the skills and behaviors to be successful rather than just pushing him out into the world on his own.

Constitutional Law bots aren't known for their subtlety (my initial assumption of JGI!'s account).
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mathlete on June 29, 2020, 02:13:39 PM
Not sure I've ever read MMM's thoughts on passing down money. Is this for inheritances? Or for things like college/opportunities/connections/financial help?

Some of his thoughts were covered in this blog post:
 https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2015/05/20/what-im-teaching-my-son-about-money/ (https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2015/05/20/what-im-teaching-my-son-about-money/)

It seems like a well reasoned and researched position, and not at all an ipso facto conclusion that inheretence is negative.  Reading through it one will notice that heís actually helping his son a great deal - including financially (one example is rewarding him for Ďinvestingí his earnings by providing him with a guaranteed return).  Itís a more nuanced argument about teaching him the skills and behaviors to be successful rather than just pushing him out into the world on his own.

Thanks. I agree. Seems reasonable to me. There's this line here:

Quote
When your own needs are capped, it becomes only logical to find an efficient outlet for the surplus money. So there is an understanding that we operate with an informal, non-billionaireís version of the ďgiving pledgeď, meaning there will be no large Mustache family inheritance Ė each generation will be left free to generate its own massive surplus.

But "no large inheritance" doesn't mean that he isn't going to use his wealth to bestow all sorts of advantages on to his son.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: ericrugiero on June 29, 2020, 02:16:20 PM
Not sure I've ever read MMM's thoughts on passing down money. Is this for inheritances? Or for things like college/opportunities/connections/financial help?

Some of his thoughts were covered in this blog post:
 https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2015/05/20/what-im-teaching-my-son-about-money/ (https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2015/05/20/what-im-teaching-my-son-about-money/)

It seems like a well reasoned and researched position, and not at all an ipso facto conclusion that inheretence is negative.  Reading through it one will notice that heís actually helping his son a great deal - including financially (one example is rewarding him for Ďinvestingí his earnings by providing him with a guaranteed return).  Itís a more nuanced argument about teaching him the skills and behaviors to be successful rather than just pushing him out into the world on his own.

I do like many of his points in that post.  I've already stolen the part about paying his kids interest on their savings. 

The reference to not leaving an inheritance is the part I'm not so sure about.  As mentioned, I'm still working through my plans. 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on June 29, 2020, 03:12:14 PM
Not sure I've ever read MMM's thoughts on passing down money. Is this for inheritances? Or for things like college/opportunities/connections/financial help?

Some of his thoughts were covered in this blog post:
 https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2015/05/20/what-im-teaching-my-son-about-money/ (https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2015/05/20/what-im-teaching-my-son-about-money/)

It seems like a well reasoned and researched position, and not at all an ipso facto conclusion that inheretence is negative.  Reading through it one will notice that heís actually helping his son a great deal - including financially (one example is rewarding him for Ďinvestingí his earnings by providing him with a guaranteed return).  Itís a more nuanced argument about teaching him the skills and behaviors to be successful rather than just pushing him out into the world on his own.

I do like many of his points in that post.  I've already stolen the part about paying his kids interest on their savings. 

The reference to not leaving an inheritance is the part I'm not so sure about.  As mentioned, I'm still working through my plans.
I think itís perfectly Appropriate to adjust ones strategy as you and your children age.
I donít want to leave my daughter a large inheritance (or have her know she will get one) when sheís still a minor. When sheís in her 30s or 40s with an established career I might think differently, especially if she has already shown financial responsibility.

Regardless, my aim is that my child will have no need for an inheritance and instead I can gift it to charities I want to support. That, to me, would be parenting success with regards to finances
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mathlete on June 29, 2020, 05:12:17 PM

I don't totally agree with his stance on not giving his kids wealth so they can earn their own way.

I  am in firm disagreement  with anyone who holds this view of a parent's or parents' legacy for their children.

My unvarnished opinion is that a parent or parents who enjoyed an easy life ought to ensure that  their legacy provides the same for their beloved children.

I reject the proposition that a meager legacy, that requires one's children to work instead of an abundant  legacy that does not,  is ipso facto,  superior and more beneficial for the children.

Thereís gotta be some room for utilitarianism here though, right? If my kid, like me, can easily make ends meet to a first world standard by pushing keys on a keyboard at a desk... well, itís hard for me to imagine loving them so much that I want to spare them that at the expense of utilitarian charitable giving.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: MilesTeg on June 29, 2020, 05:43:18 PM
One thing I disagree with is buying cheap garbage instead of high quality products. This is more something I see on the forum, but MMM does it to. For example, he endorses Harbor Freight Tools which are complete and utter garbage (and on not rare
occasion they are such garbage that they are likely to cause injury or death even when properly used).

https://www.nhtsa.gov/press-releases/consumer-advisory-harbor-freight-jack-stands

If something is worth buying it's worth buying good quality -- even if you aren't risking life and limb. If good quality is too much expense for your use case you probably shouldn't be buying. In the case of tools, that means renting or borrowing.

Another example: I will never, ever buy cheap clothes again. I can't remember how many $10-15 shirts I've had to donate over the years because they shrank from too big to too small in only 2 or 3 washes. Now I buy $30 shirts, and they last hundreds of washings and only get demoted to rags due to damage or stains.

HF guarantees their hand tools and will exchange them no questions asked if they break.

Absolutely nothing worse than a tool breaking in the middle of a job, or worse, being poorly constructed and making the job harder.

Even as just a shade tree wrench turner, I will never use crap hand tools. Wrenching is a great fun hobby. Wrenching with sub standard tools is a nightmare. Dull, brittle bits, crescents with obscene play, sockets and end wrenches that aren't precise sizes, torque wrenches that won't stay calibrated for more than 10 seconds, soft metal screwdrivers, cheap ass screws and bolts that shear, etc.

Decent tools will last decades and can be passed down through generations or bought and sold on a secondary market. Most of my tools are at this point family heirlooms or estate sale purchases.

Don't get me wrong, HF is not the only source of crap tools, they are just the biggest offender. Cheap tools just aren't worth the hassle.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: John Galt incarnate! on June 29, 2020, 06:44:48 PM


Constitutional Law bots aren't known for their subtlety (my initial assumption of JGI!'s account).

I dislike ambiguity because  it's the tool of duplicitous politicians, et al.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: John Galt incarnate! on June 29, 2020, 06:54:29 PM

I don't totally agree with his stance on not giving his kids wealth so they can earn their own way.

I  am in firm disagreement  with anyone who holds this view of a parent's or parents' legacy for their children.

My unvarnished opinion is that a parent or parents who enjoyed an easy life ought to ensure that  their legacy provides the same for their beloved children.

I reject the proposition that a meager legacy, that requires one's children to work instead of an abundant  legacy that does not,  is ipso facto,  superior and more beneficial for the children.

Thereís gotta be some room for utilitarianism here though, right? If my kid, like me, can easily make ends meet to a first world standard by pushing keys on a keyboard at a desk... well, itís hard for me to imagine loving them so much that I want to spare them that at the expense of utilitarian charitable giving.



My first-blush response is "charity begins at home."
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Bloop Bloop on June 29, 2020, 09:01:21 PM

I don't totally agree with his stance on not giving his kids wealth so they can earn their own way.

I  am in firm disagreement  with anyone who holds this view of a parent's or parents' legacy for their children.

My unvarnished opinion is that a parent or parents who enjoyed an easy life ought to ensure that  their legacy provides the same for their beloved children.

I reject the proposition that a meager legacy, that requires one's children to work instead of an abundant  legacy that does not,  is ipso facto,  superior and more beneficial for the children.

I didn't enjoy an easy life to get to where I am and I want my kids to face challenges too.

If you want your children to have advantages it's a lot better to gift them good genes (insofar as you have some control over that) and a loving, stable, nurturing environment with lots of mental stimulation. Give them that and they won't need your money, or any other material legacy.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: TheFrenchCat on June 29, 2020, 09:25:52 PM
Not sure I've ever read MMM's thoughts on passing down money. Is this for inheritances? Or for things like college/opportunities/connections/financial help?

Some of his thoughts were covered in this blog post:
 https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2015/05/20/what-im-teaching-my-son-about-money/ (https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2015/05/20/what-im-teaching-my-son-about-money/)

It seems like a well reasoned and researched position, and not at all an ipso facto conclusion that inheretence is negative.  Reading through it one will notice that heís actually helping his son a great deal - including financially (one example is rewarding him for Ďinvestingí his earnings by providing him with a guaranteed return).  Itís a more nuanced argument about teaching him the skills and behaviors to be successful rather than just pushing him out into the world on his own.

I do like many of his points in that post.  I've already stolen the part about paying his kids interest on their savings. 

The reference to not leaving an inheritance is the part I'm not so sure about.  As mentioned, I'm still working through my plans.
I think itís perfectly Appropriate to adjust ones strategy as you and your children age.
I donít want to leave my daughter a large inheritance (or have her know she will get one) when sheís still a minor. When sheís in her 30s or 40s with an established career I might think differently, especially if she has already shown financial responsibility.

Regardless, my aim is that my child will have no need for an inheritance and instead I can gift it to charities I want to support. That, to me, would be parenting success with regards to finances
I like this idea of evolving what we plan to pass on as time goes on.  Right now, if we died, she/her guardian would get everything since she's only 4 and would need it to support her.  If we die at the same age as our ancestors, she could well be in her seventies when that happens, so I'm not sure how much difference an inheritance would make at that point. 

We do want to provide at least the help we had in launching, which for us, materially, means paying for college.  I don't think it means trying to make it so she wouldn't have to work (assuming we continue to be blessed with her good health so that she's able to work).

In the end, the money's not going to automatically make her happy.  My birth family was happier when we were lower middle class than when they were making 100k.  I partially attribute that to our life having been simpler by default.  But I at least want to give her the tools and some support so that she doesn't need to overly worry about meeting basic needs.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on June 30, 2020, 05:17:55 AM

I don't totally agree with his stance on not giving his kids wealth so they can earn their own way.

I  am in firm disagreement  with anyone who holds this view of a parent's or parents' legacy for their children.

My unvarnished opinion is that a parent or parents who enjoyed an easy life ought to ensure that  their legacy provides the same for their beloved children.

I reject the proposition that a meager legacy, that requires one's children to work instead of an abundant  legacy that does not,  is ipso facto,  superior and more beneficial for the children.

Thereís gotta be some room for utilitarianism here though, right? If my kid, like me, can easily make ends meet to a first world standard by pushing keys on a keyboard at a desk... well, itís hard for me to imagine loving them so much that I want to spare them that at the expense of utilitarian charitable giving.



My first-blush response is "charity begins at home."

Did you read the blog post in question?
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mathlete on June 30, 2020, 12:03:28 PM
My first-blush response is "charity begins at home."

Yeah it's generally easier to have a strong impact on the lives of people the closest to you. But for my money (hehe), I can't imagine being wealthy and having a kid who is in the ballpark of me earnings wise, and wanting to give them much of anything post-childhood.

Or to put it in a less confusing way, there came a point in my adult life (around 24 or so) where I realized that I was gonna be okay. At that point and since, I don't think anyone should be giving me money or helping me out in any expensive way. My parents (or any secret unknown benefactors out there) should spend money on themselves or preferably, the less fortunately.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: simonsez on June 30, 2020, 12:51:55 PM
My first-blush response is "charity begins at home."

Yeah it's generally easier to have a strong impact on the lives of people the closest to you. But for my money (hehe), I can't imagine being wealthy and having a kid who is in the ballpark of me earnings wise, and wanting to give them much of anything post-childhood.

Or to put it in a less confusing way, there came a point in my adult life (around 24 or so) where I realized that I was gonna be okay. At that point and since, I don't think anyone should be giving me money or helping me out in any expensive way. My parents (or any secret unknown benefactors out there) should spend money on themselves or preferably, the less fortunately.
Ah, variety is the spice of life!  I do like reading on different philosophies regarding money and future generations.

I don't think having a good career and life largely figured out at age 24 is the norm though kudos to the healthy proportion that do.  Also, while it would be nice if it was this obvious, I don't think there is always a sign blinking above a son or daughter's head of when this maturity occurs, if ever.  Plus, that misses a lot of the point.  Sometimes it's just nice to give someone a gift or to do something directly or indirectly (especially when FIRE plans work out really well and maybe you have more money than you planned on).  It's an expression of love.  It can be tricky to refuse that or tell them to spend their money, time, and acts of kindness elsewhere. 

If a family member keeps giving you money and you don't need/want it, donate it or accelerate your path to financial freedom (or your own children's).  It's a nice position to be in, both on the giving end and the receiving end.  I think the spirit of giving should be paid forward as much as possible and encouraged.  Charity may very well often start in the home but it would be a shame for it to end there.

For me, anything with the pecuniary side of estate planning is viewed more toward potential grandchildren rather than children for the very same reasoning you allude to (children will be grown by time I'm gone, it will be the generation(s) after that that will benefit more from a little $$ to kickstart college, a house, relationship with investing, etc.).  Not that I'm going to be putting in extra years of work for this, just if things go that way and my retirement plans end up being more secure than I initially realized - I'm going to want to give some nice gifts.  As it usually does, YMMV.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Imma on June 30, 2020, 03:18:18 PM
Hmm, I'm not a huge fan on topics such as this.  I feel that knit-picking the negatives in an overtly positive blog is counter-productive.  Whether you like his hyperbolic writing style or not, it's clearly the most read and most successful blog in the personal finance sphere.

- In Britain we have the National Health Service, we have to insure our homes to get a mortgage and our cars must be insured to be road legal.  So insurance is a non-issue here.  I think in America I'd personally add insurance into my FIRE number.

- As someone who isn't frugal by this forum's standards, I'm not offended by the idea of 'Face Punches'.  It's a comical and entertaining way of bringing the reader to a realisation of their finances.  I don't think he ever really implies that we should point out our acquaintances' spending errors, but some people do.  It's similar to family members giving unwanted parental advice, unwanted fashion advice from friends etc.  People sticking their oar in is a part of life and when you frequent a forum such as this, it's unavoidable as it's the main topic of discussion.

- I don't think he should post more about race-related or political subjects.  Everyone's views are different and as his political views are not the subject of his blog, then why risk alienating readers with something unrelated.

- He's produced a ton of free content that helps educate people.  He doesn't owe his readers anything (pictures).  He's gained his money because he gave us something.  That's not to say he couldn't have given a selfie, it does seem unnecessarily awkward and peculiar in the example mentioned above.  I met Noel Gallagher at a football match once.  I asked for a picture and he turned to me and told me to F off.  Never meet your heroes and all that.  :P

I don't know if Pete even reads or posts on the blog.  I know the OP hasn't meant to offend anyone, but it seems a bit unfair to create a thread where people voice criticisms about him as a person.  Whether you like him or not, he isn't advising anyone to do anything he hasn't done himself.

To be fair, what did you expect from one of the Gallagher brothers? ;) At this point it would probably ruin his reputation if he smiled and let you take a picture.

I can totally understand why Pete wouldn't be comfortable taking a picture and as he's just a regular polite guy and not a hooligan rockstar maybe he replied in a slightly awkward way. Honestly I would be a bit freaked out too if I were him. It's clear he never set out to become a "celeb" and now people want to take pictures with him and google his divorce.

I think MMM makes it clear his advice applies mostly to middle class professionals. I do seem to remember he did a case study about someone on minimum wage though?

Still I would love to see some tips and advice for people who are going through challenges, like chronic health conditions. Because those challenges are so big, many people in the personal finance world are shying away from this topic. I have learned a lot from this forum though. I am lucky to be in Europe where I know I'll always get a minimum level of healthcare, but it still took me some time to figure out my path. For people in the US it's even more difficult. My interest in FI stems from my health condition: I want to make sure I don't need to work anymore when I feel my body can't take it anymore, not when some person in the disability benefits office decides I can't, and I want to make sure I have money available for private medical procedures if that's ever necessary.

MMM has a quite cavalier attitude regarding health issues, but most healthy people have. Of course salads are good for you but they don't prevent or cure all illness (I actually eat homegrown organic salads every day and I still need more and more medication to stay where I am, healthwise). I don't blame him for feeling like he's in charge of his health.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: EscapeVelocity2020 on June 30, 2020, 08:10:44 PM
I can totally understand why Pete wouldn't be comfortable taking a picture and as he's just a regular polite guy and not a hooligan rockstar maybe he replied in a slightly awkward way. Honestly I would be a bit freaked out too if I were him. It's clear he never set out to become a "celeb" and now people want to take pictures with him and google his divorce.

I'm so confused by all of this.  Seriously, if I showed up at an EscapeVelocity Meetup that was inspired by my philosophy and writings and someone told me I had inspired them and wanted a picture, I would not think it was unusual.  I would have thought about it all beforehand or probably had it happen to me many times, and I'd have a stock answer or work-around - like the group photo. 

My impression of Pete, to be honest, was that he liked to come up with quirky photos like him eating celery in a tree and would go with gusto into figuring out how to make the photo unique or memorable.  So maybe that was what was so awkward about the situation that was mentioned earlier.  But thinking that the namesake of an event is supposed to be a no-body at the event is unrealistic. 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: marty998 on June 30, 2020, 11:46:35 PM
Iíve seen that celery in a tree photo a few times now.

Itís an odd one, but the fact I remember it as being unique probably means it is serving its purpose.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: brooklynmoney on July 01, 2020, 05:03:03 AM
Love the whole concept and the persona except I disagree on the low information diet. I think itís our duty to be engaged and try to understand the world around us and what is happening from different perspectives.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Loretta on July 01, 2020, 06:13:06 AM
If you live like a hermit and do not have to interact with a lot of people every day, then feel free to forego showers, soap, deodorant, washing machines, etc. 

Walking and biking to work is NOT for everyone.  Salad and pushups are not the cure all for everything physical. 

I stopped reading Get Rich Slowly when JD divorced his wife, I'll admit.  I suspect if I knew MMM in real life, I'd find him a bit of a jerk.  But my biggest take aways over the years have been keep your home expenses and transportation expenses in check, first and foremost.  Also the concept of millionaires become millionaires $10 at a time. 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: slappy on July 01, 2020, 07:14:46 AM
If you live like a hermit and do not have to interact with a lot of people every day, then feel free to forego showers, soap, deodorant, washing machines, etc. 

Walking and biking to work is NOT for everyone.  Salad and pushups are not the cure all for everything physical. 

I stopped reading Get Rich Slowly when JD divorced his wife, I'll admit.  I suspect if I knew MMM in real life, I'd find him a bit of a jerk.  But my biggest take aways over the years have been keep your home expenses and transportation expenses in check, first and foremost.  Also the concept of millionaires become millionaires $10 at a time.


Was it because he got divorced or because he sold the blog? I think they happened around the same time. I mostly stopped because the blog changed so much, and then I came over to MMM. I do read his blog occasionally now.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: spartana on July 01, 2020, 08:52:49 AM


I stopped reading Get Rich Slowly when JD divorced his wife, I'll admit. 
Curious why? Or why someone would stop reading MMM or any FIRE blog because of divorce. I don't know any details of anyone's divorce but I would think it wouldn't change the message about FI and could actually be a good learning tool to know that divorce doesn't have to mean the death of someone's FIRE plans. I talk about the financal effects of my own divorce here for that reason and would like to see more PF bloggers talk about it too. That and dating/new relationships if one is FIREd..
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mathlete on July 01, 2020, 08:55:46 AM
I'm so confused by all of this.  Seriously, if I showed up at an EscapeVelocity Meetup that was inspired by my philosophy and writings and someone told me I had inspired them and wanted a picture, I would not think it was unusual.  I would have thought about it all beforehand or probably had it happen to me many times, and I'd have a stock answer or work-around - like the group photo. 

I can see this side of it too. If you make a lot of money being a public personality, and then go voluntarily engage in being a public personality, you shouldn't be surprised if people expect you to act like a public personality.

I guess what I'm saying is that if someone doesn't want to take a picture, that's 100% cool and you should respect that decision. But you're not wrong to silently judge that person :)
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Monkey Uncle on July 01, 2020, 09:14:49 AM
If you live like a hermit and do not have to interact with a lot of people every day, then feel free to forego showers, soap, deodorant, washing machines, etc. 

Walking and biking to work is NOT for everyone.  Salad and pushups are not the cure all for everything physical. 

I stopped reading Get Rich Slowly when JD divorced his wife, I'll admit.  I suspect if I knew MMM in real life, I'd find him a bit of a jerk.  But my biggest take aways over the years have been keep your home expenses and transportation expenses in check, first and foremost.  Also the concept of millionaires become millionaires $10 at a time.
I'm pretty sure these things have been discussed ad infinitum in previous threads. They work for some people and not for others. My wife can go a few days without showering and still not have BO. I can't. Walking to work was a good solution for me because of where I live. We wear clothes multiple times before washing, as long as they don't smell and aren't dirty. The power in the blog is not that it mandates that everyone do these things, it's in the fact that it opens our eyes to a host of options that most people aren't aware even exist. It lets us think about what is really important to us and how we might arrange our lives to focus on those things.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: kite on July 01, 2020, 09:57:05 AM


I stopped reading Get Rich Slowly when JD divorced his wife, I'll admit. 
Curious why? Or why someone would stop reading MMM or any FIRE blog because of divorce. I don't know any details of anyone's divorce but I would think it wouldn't change the message about FI and could actually be a good learning tool to know that divorce doesn't have to mean the death of someone's FIRE plans. I talk about the financal effects of my own divorce here for that reason and would like to see more PF bloggers talk about it too. That and dating/new relationships if one is FIREd..
Yes x 1000.
Canít grasp why anyone has an opinion about a marriage that is not their own.  Itís like people keep needing to have someone to blame for things that donít affect them.
And youíre right about how itís a learning opportunity.  The transition from living with a partner to living single, whether the change is caused by divorce or death (or disability, hospitalization, or something else) is a transition that the majority of us will face.  Even if your marriage is all rainbows and bunny rabbits, one of you is going to die first.  And single people who are older have unique financial challenges and unique perspectives. 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: ol1970 on July 01, 2020, 10:41:37 AM
1) Preaching that keeping a minimalist lifestyle is the best way to happiness and mocking those who have a different take on life.
2) Sticking to a budget of $27,000 a year that you came up with when you were a kid at 25 years old, even though it means depriving your kid/wife/family of some freaking awesome life experiences.  Reality is he probably is more in the camp of do as I say not as I do.  Does a 10 year old really need to go to Costa Rica and see monkeys/parrots/sloths in the wild?  Does it bring incredible memories standing (at a safe distance) and seeing an active volcano spew molten lava into the ocean?  Is it frugal to sail through the Bahamas and anchor at your own beach and have sting rays come up to your kid to say hi...nope.  So this guy now makes hundreds of thousands a year but live like a miserly tight wade.  It is admirable that he gives so much to charity, but giving his family some life experiences is not something I'll ever regret and I honestly feel sorry for him that he's painted himself into a corner from a spending standpoint.  My irresponsible guess is his ex-wife would agree with me on this one.
3) Pets...enough said
4) Boats, he is correct they are money pits, but there has been no better utilization of my dollars earned.  (other than the money courting my wife)  It's not for everybody, but there is no greater sense of accomplishment than sailing into the distance to a place you cannot see and you've never been to before.  I'm sorry, I've ridden my bike to some cool spots around town...but it is no comparison.

That being said I've got a ton of respect for his work and some of his articles are genius level stuff.  I just wish he would have evolved and grown over time.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: EscapeVelocity2020 on July 01, 2020, 10:50:15 AM
1) Preaching that keeping a minimalist lifestyle is the best way to happiness and mocking those who have a different take on life.
2) Sticking to a budget of $27,000 a year that you came up with when you were a kid at 25 years old, even though it means depriving your kid/wife/family of some freaking awesome life experiences.  Reality is he probably is more in the camp of do as I say not as I do.  Does a 10 year old really need to go to Costa Rica and see monkeys/parrots/sloths in the wild?  Does it bring incredible memories standing (at a safe distance) and seeing an active volcano spew molten lava into the ocean?  Is it frugal to sail through the Bahamas and anchor at your own beach and have sting rays come up to your kid to say hi...nope.  So this guy now makes hundreds of thousands a year but live like a miserly tight wade.  It is admirable that he gives so much to charity, but giving his family some life experiences is not something I'll ever regret and I honestly feel sorry for him that he's painted himself into a corner from a spending standpoint.  My irresponsible guess is his ex-wife would agree with me on this one.
3) Pets...enough said
4) Boats, he is correct they are money pits, but there has been no better utilization of my dollars earned.  (other than the money courting my wife)  It's not for everybody, but there is no greater sense of accomplishment than sailing into the distance to a place you cannot see and you've never been to before.  I'm sorry, I've ridden my bike to some cool spots around town...but it is no comparison.

That being said I've got a ton of respect for his work and some of his articles are genius level stuff.  I just wish he would have evolved and grown over time.

Great post.  Sometimes, now that I've hit FI, I waste money on dumb things like a swimming pool and African safari for the family, and I have no regrets at all whatsoever.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: spartana on July 01, 2020, 10:54:08 AM
1) Preaching that keeping a minimalist lifestyle is the best way to happiness and mocking those who have a different take on life.
2) Sticking to a budget of $27,000 a year that you came up with when you were a kid at 25 years old, even though it means depriving your kid/wife/family of some freaking awesome life experiences.  Reality is he probably is more in the camp of do as I say not as I do.  Does a 10 year old really need to go to Costa Rica and see monkeys/parrots/sloths in the wild?  Does it bring incredible memories standing (at a safe distance) and seeing an active volcano spew molten lava into the ocean?  Is it frugal to sail through the Bahamas and anchor at your own beach and have sting rays come up to your kid to say hi...nope.  So this guy now makes hundreds of thousands a year but live like a miserly tight wade.  It is admirable that he gives so much to charity, but giving his family some life experiences is not something I'll ever regret and I honestly feel sorry for him that he's painted himself into a corner from a spending standpoint.  My irresponsible guess is his ex-wife would agree with me on this one.
3) Pets...enough said
4) Boats, he is correct they are money pits, but there has been no better utilization of my dollars earned.  (other than the money courting my wife)  It's not for everybody, but there is no greater sense of accomplishment than sailing into the distance to a place you cannot see and you've never been to before.  I'm sorry, I've ridden my bike to some cool spots around town...but it is no comparison.

That being said I've got a ton of respect for his work and some of his articles are genius level stuff.  I just wish he would have evolved and grown over time.
Many people here don't have the kind of wealth you do (in the millions) and need to make the trade offs that requires in order to not have to work decades longer. Can't spend time seeing monkeys in the wild with your kid if you are stuck behind a desk 40 hours a week until you are 70. Can't spend much time with your kid or loved ones at all if you're stuck behind a desk 40 hours per week or more until you are 70. There are lots of interesting and unique experiences in life that don't cost much. Some are as simple as having free time to ride your bike with your family whenever you want.

MMM and many others here don't necessarily value those kinds of experiences, or prefer to do them in a less expensive/luxurious way. Often because we found it more interesting and enjoyable to live and adventure on a shoe string.  I did many of those kinds of things when I quit my job at 36 at a tiny tiny fraction of the cost you have. It was a better use of my time then staying at work longer. MMM probably felt the same as a "kid" when he quit work at 30 on his smaller stash. Obviously those are the values and priorities many of us aspire to even if we don't live lavishly.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Spud on July 01, 2020, 11:31:24 AM
Still I would love to see some tips and advice for people who are going through challenges, like chronic health conditions. Because those challenges are so big, many people in the personal finance world are shying away from this topic.

I don't understand how the advice for these people would be any different from the standard advice of spend less than you earn and invest the difference, accelarate the process by either earning more, spending less or a combination of both.

That's literally all there is to FIRE.

For people with chronic conditions they may have to take out more comprehensive, thus expensive health insurance or take into account the need for more money in their FIRE calculations when thinking about the impact of their conditions on their proposed retirement, but otherwise, it's all the same, surely.

I apologise if I'm being slow, but it's like having a FIRE blog exclusively for people who are left handed.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: slappy on July 01, 2020, 11:45:57 AM

2) Sticking to a budget of $27,000 a year that you came up with when you were a kid at 25 years old, even though it means depriving your kid/wife/family of some freaking awesome life experiences.  Reality is he probably is more in the camp of do as I say not as I do.  Does a 10 year old really need to go to Costa Rica and see monkeys/parrots/sloths in the wild?  Does it bring incredible memories standing (at a safe distance) and seeing an active volcano spew molten lava into the ocean?  Is it frugal to sail through the Bahamas and anchor at your own beach and have sting rays come up to your kid to say hi...nope.  So this guy now makes hundreds of thousands a year but live like a miserly tight wade.  It is admirable that he gives so much to charity, but giving his family some life experiences is not something I'll ever regret and I honestly feel sorry for him that he's painted himself into a corner from a spending standpoint.  My irresponsible guess is his ex-wife would agree with me on this one.


What? The only experiences that are worth anything are expensive/extravagant trips? This is one of my pet peeves in the PF world. My kids seem to have quite a happy childhood playing in their own backyard and spending time with each other and with us. I'm not sure how much more value I could add by taking them on a couple of extravagant trips, although I'm sure it would be fun. It reminds me of the quote "luxury, once experienced, becomes necessity". I don't think it counts as "living like a tightwad" just because we (or MMM) don't do experiences such as the ones you described.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on July 01, 2020, 11:52:16 AM
what is the "PF" world?
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: sherr on July 01, 2020, 11:56:52 AM
what is the "PF" world?

Personal Finance. Dave Ramsey / Suze Orman / whoever.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: slappy on July 01, 2020, 12:00:49 PM
what is the "PF" world?

Personal finance
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: DadJokes on July 01, 2020, 12:03:44 PM
what is the "PF" world?

It's similar to Planet Hollywood or Planet Fitness, but a lot nerdier.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on July 01, 2020, 12:05:20 PM
Thanks.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Bloop Bloop on July 01, 2020, 09:42:13 PM

2) Sticking to a budget of $27,000 a year that you came up with when you were a kid at 25 years old, even though it means depriving your kid/wife/family of some freaking awesome life experiences.  Reality is he probably is more in the camp of do as I say not as I do.  Does a 10 year old really need to go to Costa Rica and see monkeys/parrots/sloths in the wild?  Does it bring incredible memories standing (at a safe distance) and seeing an active volcano spew molten lava into the ocean?  Is it frugal to sail through the Bahamas and anchor at your own beach and have sting rays come up to your kid to say hi...nope.  So this guy now makes hundreds of thousands a year but live like a miserly tight wade.  It is admirable that he gives so much to charity, but giving his family some life experiences is not something I'll ever regret and I honestly feel sorry for him that he's painted himself into a corner from a spending standpoint.  My irresponsible guess is his ex-wife would agree with me on this one.


What? The only experiences that are worth anything are expensive/extravagant trips? This is one of my pet peeves in the PF world. My kids seem to have quite a happy childhood playing in their own backyard and spending time with each other and with us. I'm not sure how much more value I could add by taking them on a couple of extravagant trips, although I'm sure it would be fun. It reminds me of the quote "luxury, once experienced, becomes necessity". I don't think it counts as "living like a tightwad" just because we (or MMM) don't do experiences such as the ones you described.

I think the point is that different people have different concepts of frugality. For some it's an absolute concept, e.g. "I would never spend $X on a luxury villa because it's just hedonistic and it won't improve my happiness." For others it's a relative concept, e.g. "I just got paid a bonus of $50k this year/I make $200/hour and therefore spending an extra $X for luxury/convenience/aesthetic pleasure is worth it in this circumstance, when I can generalise it out to my usual spending habits." Not everyone takes the same approach to personal finance and MMM's attitude to luxuries I find can often be unnecessarily patronising and polarising for people for whom asceticism is not inherently virtuous.

I am frugal 90% of the time but 10% of the time I like to splurge on luxuries. It works for me. I wouldn't judge others for changing that balance (as long as they were objective about it and it aligned with their financial goals) and I don't like that MMM evidently encourages a judgmental approach.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: HBFIRE on July 01, 2020, 10:18:39 PM
Pete's a really cool dude, met him at a camp about 4 years ago.  I like how down to earth he is and how he's really an introvert like myself.  Super cool guy to have a beer with.

That said, here is where I'd disagree with him:

1) For those who are passionate in their field of work and it's what they want to do long term, they don't need to save some insane amount of their income to get to FI asap.  Perhaps a more moderate work/life balance would make sense so that they could better enjoy their life.  I'm not fortunate enough to fall into his category, but if my passion were to be say, a professor, I would probably just enjoy my intellectual pursuits while saving say 20% and not stress so much about saving every single dollar possible.

2) Sometimes focusing too much on savings can hold you back.  I've found my highest earning years were when I focused more on just that -- earning.  The vast majority of my net worth came when I made some drastic changes to driving my income up, not driving my spending down -- I did all this in a matter of about 3 years.  And for those who think you can do both simultaneously, I disagree.  Driving income up big really takes a lot of focus and almost all of your attention.  I'd go so far to say I attained FI by focusing on income, not spending.   It turns out you in most cases can really move the needle by increasing income more than you can by reducing spending.  Focusing on penny pinching can sometimes work against this aka scarcity mentality.  Penny wise Pound foolish is what happens in these cases.  If you can work on driving up our income and basically just keep your spending reasonable, you can do incredibly well.

3) Give yourself some cushion for your later years.  Health care costs may go up astronomically, it is difficult to foresee.  Your living costs might go up as you begin to want more comforts in your later years.  4% WDR is a bit too optimistic imo.  Yes, one needs to weigh the risks vs spending your life working away, but I think this really needs to be considered.

4) Investments.  I don't recall what his latest recommendations are for stock allocation, but I believe it is quite high if not 100%.  This imo should only apply when you are building up your nest egg.  Once you've won the game and surpass the 4% WD rate, it makes sense to start playing some defense with more bonds.

P.S.  I'm not really a "mustachian" by most definitions.  I just take what's useful for myself from here - maybe 70% or so.





Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: vand on July 02, 2020, 03:40:56 AM
My view is that that the core principles of the MMM approach (frugality, self-reliance, low cost indexing, 4% rule) can be thought of as FI 1.0.  Just like most motorists have no interest in opening up the bonnet of their car and fine tuning the performance, most people just don't obssess over personal finance in that way that us junkies do.

I personally detested The Simple Path To Wealth but it's perfectly understandable why when you consider that JL Collins himself said that it was written for people like his daughter who understood the important of all this stuff but didn't care to obssess over the details... which is heresy to people like me, but hey people are different.

For those of us who are greatly interested in the numbers behind the numbers, we inevitably stray from the the basic MMM core principles.

I don't usually have much time for ChooseFI, but they did a very interesting interview with Todd Tressider a successful investor/business guy few years ago where he addressed many of these same limitations, briefly referencing Pete himself and saying that while he fully supports what Pete espoused.. there is more to it, which he likened to FI 2.0 - 2nd level thinking and understanding. It's well worth a listen imo:
https://www.choosefi.com/052-todd-tresidder-risk-management/
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: ericrugiero on July 02, 2020, 06:35:11 AM
2) Sometimes focusing too much on savings can hold you back.  I've found my highest earning years were when I focused more on just that -- earning.  The vast majority of my net worth came when I made some drastic changes to driving my income up, not driving my spending down -- I did all this in a matter of about 3 years.  And for those who think you can do both simultaneously, I disagree.  Driving income up big really takes a lot of focus and almost all of your attention.  I'd go so far to say I attained FI by focusing on income, not spending.   It turns out you in most cases can really move the needle by increasing income more than you can by reducing spending.  Focusing on penny pinching can sometimes work against this aka scarcity mentality.  Penny wise Pound foolish is what happens in these cases.  If you can work on driving up our income and basically just keep your spending reasonable, you can do incredibly well.

For some situations you can work harder and really drive up the income temporarily which can make a big difference.  I don't disagree there.  But, your expenses have a bigger impact on when you can retire than your income.  If you can optimize your life so your expenses drop permanently, that's a long term change rather than a temporary income boost.  It also has benefits in lower tax rates while you are working AND while retired.  Now, if you really don't want to cut expenses, you can focus more on the income side.  There isn't really a wrong answer.  It depends on the individuals preferences and what options they have in their job. 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: ol1970 on July 02, 2020, 06:47:23 AM

2) Sticking to a budget of $27,000 a year that you came up with when you were a kid at 25 years old, even though it means depriving your kid/wife/family of some freaking awesome life experiences.  Reality is he probably is more in the camp of do as I say not as I do.  Does a 10 year old really need to go to Costa Rica and see monkeys/parrots/sloths in the wild?  Does it bring incredible memories standing (at a safe distance) and seeing an active volcano spew molten lava into the ocean?  Is it frugal to sail through the Bahamas and anchor at your own beach and have sting rays come up to your kid to say hi...nope.  So this guy now makes hundreds of thousands a year but live like a miserly tight wade.  It is admirable that he gives so much to charity, but giving his family some life experiences is not something I'll ever regret and I honestly feel sorry for him that he's painted himself into a corner from a spending standpoint.  My irresponsible guess is his ex-wife would agree with me on this one.


What? The only experiences that are worth anything are expensive/extravagant trips? This is one of my pet peeves in the PF world. My kids seem to have quite a happy childhood playing in their own backyard and spending time with each other and with us. I'm not sure how much more value I could add by taking them on a couple of extravagant trips, although I'm sure it would be fun. It reminds me of the quote "luxury, once experienced, becomes necessity". I don't think it counts as "living like a tightwad" just because we (or MMM) don't do experiences such as the ones you described.

You are missing the point, MMM is now a multi-multi millionaire with all the income in the world and then some to do this stuff.  And it wouldnít even be considered extravagant.  It might push his budget up into the 1% withdrawal rate...but heís not even withdrawing because he has income! 

What you are doing is rationalizing to say an experience you have never done is not a useful endeavor because itís more efficient financially to play in the sandbox in your backyard you built for $17.  He has the means, you only get one life, I just think itís sad that he convinces the sheep to believe there isnít anything worthwhile outside of your backyard to go experience. 

Yes if you are in the wealth accumulation phase donít go on a $20k safari, but if you are worth millions with bank rolling in, but never do anything thatís just sad.  Especially when you convince yourself those things arenít worth doing, but then watch movies and YouTube videos about people out actually living life.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on July 02, 2020, 07:04:54 AM

What you are doing is rationalizing to say an experience you have never done is not a useful endeavor because itís more efficient financially to play in the sandbox in your backyard you built for $17.  He has the means, you only get one life, I just think itís sad that he convinces the sheep to believe there isnít anything worthwhile outside of your backyard to go experience. 


I think you've completely misconstrued both MMM's personal approach to 'life enriching experiences' and the advice he's given to this forum at large.  He's traveled extensively and written pages and pages on how to take trips which are better on both your wallet and the environment.  Before this forum got too big and he 'detached' from it somewhat he did a bunch of carpentry-tourism with various members, trading a place to stay for some free home improvement labor.  He's talked about his numerous camping car-trips with his son and has done an annual trip to central America (for which he gets a lot of flack for listing it as a "business expense").

I don't recall him *ever* telling a person that traveling is not an enriching experience.  He has (IMO correctly) told people they shouldn't be taking airplane vacations when they've got 'hair-on-fire' debt emergencies and little savings. And he's talked about how there's a ton of rewarding stuff to do within a few hours drive of almost anywhere in the US/Canada, and one does not need to fly to Fiji and sequester one's self in a resort just to call it a vacation.  Clearly, as a person who's hit his FI number several times over he doesn't have any qualms about traveling or writing about what he's encountered, as there are lots of blog posts detailing his trips all around North America.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Bloop Bloop on July 02, 2020, 07:16:58 AM
I think the point is that there are genuinely life-enriching experiences that do cost a fair bit of money.

No one's saying that you need, or need to want, to have those experiences. But MMM's philosophy seems to veer towards the side of frugality for its own sake and criticism of lavish spending for its own sake. For people who think frugality is a virtue of itself and that high spending is worthy of criticism by itself, then that's a perfectly concordant philosophy. For those of us who have no particular attachment to frugality*, then we disagree.

*I think that frugality is more often a good thing than lavishness, since a lot of "non-frugal" things are expensive simply due to the Veblen effect, or some other artefact, that has nothing to do with the intrinsic value of the good. And I generally live a frugal life. However, I can think of a lot of things I've done which were not frugal but which I enjoyed thoroughly, and which are hard to replicate on a frugal budget, e.g., sky-diving, track days, and so on. I would class a good safari in the same category. Some day I'd like to do a commercial flight in space too because I think that would be out of this world. And I think that would probably not be frugal either.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: kite on July 02, 2020, 07:18:33 AM
Still I would love to see some tips and advice for people who are going through challenges, like chronic health conditions. Because those challenges are so big, many people in the personal finance world are shying away from this topic.

I don't understand how the advice for these people would be any different from the standard advice of spend less than you earn and invest the difference, accelarate the process by either earning more, spending less or a combination of both.

That's literally all there is to FIRE.

For people with chronic conditions they may have to take out more comprehensive, thus expensive health insurance or take into account the need for more money in their FIRE calculations when thinking about the impact of their conditions on their proposed retirement, but otherwise, it's all the same, surely.

I apologise if I'm being slow, but it's like having a FIRE blog exclusively for people who are left handed.

On the one hand, you are absolutely right. The advice to live below your means is the same regardless of your personal circumstances or characteristics.  But if thatís all there is, an endless exhortation to live below your means, there is no blog.  There is no forum. There is no need to say or share anything besides news of our victory laps...ĒLook at how great I am, earning a big salary that far exceeds my living expenses.  Woo Hoo!!Ē   But thatís not [only] what we do here.  Lots of what we do is share ideas for things we can do & build. And weíre able to do them without spending excess money because we are physically capable. We are able to create wealth because we have all the right physical ability. 
That blows to shit in a disaster. Whether these are accidents, natural disasters, chronic health issues, addiction or simply aging.  There is a point at which riding your bike to Costco is not viable because age related decline makes it unsafe. Itís not just personal finance that is shying away from addressing concerns of the sick & frail. Thatís a universal phenomenon.  Out of sight, out of mind.  Some estimates are that 60% of us will endure an extended period of disability within our lifetimes.  It doesnít just happen when you are old and already drawing a pension that covers all your living expenses.  Sometimes it happens at 40.  Or sometimes it happens to your child or partner.  The longer you live, the more you will see this.  And you will also realize how oblivious you might have been up until the point that your sibling dives into the shallow end of a pool, or your in-law develops MS, oryour nephew gets Covid and after 60 days in the hospital, much of that time on a ventilator, he is left at age 30, with what looks to be permanent limitations. All these things happened to my loved ones.
The spirit of the MMM community is that individuals have agency and can do things.  That we shouldnít just leave ourselves at the mercy of what others (employers, government & charity) decide to hand to us, but that we approach our circumstances with an entrepreneurial spirit.  Doing what we can, sharing what we know and learned to make our lives better.  We genuinely help others to help themselves around here. 
So, no.  Itís not all the same as a niche for left handed people. 
I have a deck off the back of my house that is a few feet off the ground.  On one end there are four steps.  On another side, we had beautiful stone steps that we covered with a wooden ramp, made of the same material as the deck.  This was a convenience for getting a baby stroller in and out without having to lug it up and down the steps.  We built it with free, pressure treated lumber left over from someone elseís project.  It has served nicely when relatives who use walkers or wheelchairs have come to visit.  My neighbor is using a walker and now needs to get a ramp installed to get in and out of his home.  There are massive steel contraptions that get added onto houses and cost lots of money.  My neighbor came to see our ramp and how it fits into the design.  To build the same in their yard would cost a fraction of the price of the metal ramp.  It would likely be safer too, as it wouldnít develop a slippery surface when icy or wet. This ramp is a simple thing that is going to permit aging in place.  Aging in place is increasingly important, both as the boomer population gets older and as the unique risks and injustices in care homes come to light in the wake of Covid19.  We should talk about that more.  We should talk about how it relates to personal finance.  And we should be sharing what we know about what we can do. 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: DadJokes on July 02, 2020, 07:23:24 AM

2) Sticking to a budget of $27,000 a year that you came up with when you were a kid at 25 years old, even though it means depriving your kid/wife/family of some freaking awesome life experiences.  Reality is he probably is more in the camp of do as I say not as I do.  Does a 10 year old really need to go to Costa Rica and see monkeys/parrots/sloths in the wild?  Does it bring incredible memories standing (at a safe distance) and seeing an active volcano spew molten lava into the ocean?  Is it frugal to sail through the Bahamas and anchor at your own beach and have sting rays come up to your kid to say hi...nope.  So this guy now makes hundreds of thousands a year but live like a miserly tight wade.  It is admirable that he gives so much to charity, but giving his family some life experiences is not something I'll ever regret and I honestly feel sorry for him that he's painted himself into a corner from a spending standpoint.  My irresponsible guess is his ex-wife would agree with me on this one.


What? The only experiences that are worth anything are expensive/extravagant trips? This is one of my pet peeves in the PF world. My kids seem to have quite a happy childhood playing in their own backyard and spending time with each other and with us. I'm not sure how much more value I could add by taking them on a couple of extravagant trips, although I'm sure it would be fun. It reminds me of the quote "luxury, once experienced, becomes necessity". I don't think it counts as "living like a tightwad" just because we (or MMM) don't do experiences such as the ones you described.

You are missing the point, MMM is now a multi-multi millionaire with all the income in the world and then some to do this stuff.  And it wouldnít even be considered extravagant.  It might push his budget up into the 1% withdrawal rate...but heís not even withdrawing because he has income! 

What you are doing is rationalizing to say an experience you have never done is not a useful endeavor because itís more efficient financially to play in the sandbox in your backyard you built for $17.  He has the means, you only get one life, I just think itís sad that he convinces the sheep to believe there isnít anything worthwhile outside of your backyard to go experience. 

Yes if you are in the wealth accumulation phase donít go on a $20k safari, but if you are worth millions with bank rolling in, but never do anything thatís just sad.  Especially when you convince yourself those things arenít worth doing, but then watch movies and YouTube videos about people out actually living life.

Pete has said that he cares a lot more about the environment than personal finance.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on July 02, 2020, 07:30:05 AM

2) Sticking to a budget of $27,000 a year that you came up with when you were a kid at 25 years old, even though it means depriving your kid/wife/family of some freaking awesome life experiences.  Reality is he probably is more in the camp of do as I say not as I do.  Does a 10 year old really need to go to Costa Rica and see monkeys/parrots/sloths in the wild?  Does it bring incredible memories standing (at a safe distance) and seeing an active volcano spew molten lava into the ocean?  Is it frugal to sail through the Bahamas and anchor at your own beach and have sting rays come up to your kid to say hi...nope.  So this guy now makes hundreds of thousands a year but live like a miserly tight wade.  It is admirable that he gives so much to charity, but giving his family some life experiences is not something I'll ever regret and I honestly feel sorry for him that he's painted himself into a corner from a spending standpoint.  My irresponsible guess is his ex-wife would agree with me on this one.


What? The only experiences that are worth anything are expensive/extravagant trips? This is one of my pet peeves in the PF world. My kids seem to have quite a happy childhood playing in their own backyard and spending time with each other and with us. I'm not sure how much more value I could add by taking them on a couple of extravagant trips, although I'm sure it would be fun. It reminds me of the quote "luxury, once experienced, becomes necessity". I don't think it counts as "living like a tightwad" just because we (or MMM) don't do experiences such as the ones you described.

You are missing the point, MMM is now a multi-multi millionaire with all the income in the world and then some to do this stuff.  And it wouldnít even be considered extravagant.  It might push his budget up into the 1% withdrawal rate...but heís not even withdrawing because he has income! 

What you are doing is rationalizing to say an experience you have never done is not a useful endeavor because itís more efficient financially to play in the sandbox in your backyard you built for $17.  He has the means, you only get one life, I just think itís sad that he convinces the sheep to believe there isnít anything worthwhile outside of your backyard to go experience. 

Yes if you are in the wealth accumulation phase donít go on a $20k safari, but if you are worth millions with bank rolling in, but never do anything thatís just sad.  Especially when you convince yourself those things arenít worth doing, but then watch movies and YouTube videos about people out actually living life.

Pete has said that he cares a lot more about the environment than personal finance.

Indeed.  It's his "not so secret" reason for starting the blog.
I'm shocked at the number of forum members that apparently don't realize this.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Life in Balance on July 02, 2020, 07:32:30 AM
@kite Thank you for that post.  You completely nailed why these topics should be discussed.  I'm sorry about your nephew as it sounds like he has a tough road ahead. 

@Spud As someone who is both left-handed and disabled at age 49 (unexpectedly), I can assure you that the two are not the same when it comes to FI and consequences on savings rate, etc. 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Bloop Bloop on July 02, 2020, 07:36:16 AM

2) Sticking to a budget of $27,000 a year that you came up with when you were a kid at 25 years old, even though it means depriving your kid/wife/family of some freaking awesome life experiences.  Reality is he probably is more in the camp of do as I say not as I do.  Does a 10 year old really need to go to Costa Rica and see monkeys/parrots/sloths in the wild?  Does it bring incredible memories standing (at a safe distance) and seeing an active volcano spew molten lava into the ocean?  Is it frugal to sail through the Bahamas and anchor at your own beach and have sting rays come up to your kid to say hi...nope.  So this guy now makes hundreds of thousands a year but live like a miserly tight wade.  It is admirable that he gives so much to charity, but giving his family some life experiences is not something I'll ever regret and I honestly feel sorry for him that he's painted himself into a corner from a spending standpoint.  My irresponsible guess is his ex-wife would agree with me on this one.


What? The only experiences that are worth anything are expensive/extravagant trips? This is one of my pet peeves in the PF world. My kids seem to have quite a happy childhood playing in their own backyard and spending time with each other and with us. I'm not sure how much more value I could add by taking them on a couple of extravagant trips, although I'm sure it would be fun. It reminds me of the quote "luxury, once experienced, becomes necessity". I don't think it counts as "living like a tightwad" just because we (or MMM) don't do experiences such as the ones you described.

You are missing the point, MMM is now a multi-multi millionaire with all the income in the world and then some to do this stuff.  And it wouldnít even be considered extravagant.  It might push his budget up into the 1% withdrawal rate...but heís not even withdrawing because he has income! 

What you are doing is rationalizing to say an experience you have never done is not a useful endeavor because itís more efficient financially to play in the sandbox in your backyard you built for $17.  He has the means, you only get one life, I just think itís sad that he convinces the sheep to believe there isnít anything worthwhile outside of your backyard to go experience. 

Yes if you are in the wealth accumulation phase donít go on a $20k safari, but if you are worth millions with bank rolling in, but never do anything thatís just sad.  Especially when you convince yourself those things arenít worth doing, but then watch movies and YouTube videos about people out actually living life.

Pete has said that he cares a lot more about the environment than personal finance.

Indeed.  It's his "not so secret" reason for starting the blog.
I'm shocked at the number of forum members that apparently don't realize this.

It's not a matter of realising or not realising it. This is a thread about aspects in which you disagree with MMM's ethos.

To me frugality is a relative term - relative to your desires and your income. To others frugality has an absolute component - in relation to either spending or environmental impact or whatever. I'm not here to argue which is right and wrong. However, I am here to state that my preference differs from MMM's, and I find some of the ways in which he expresses his preferences to be rather judgmental.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: slappy on July 02, 2020, 07:40:01 AM

2) Sticking to a budget of $27,000 a year that you came up with when you were a kid at 25 years old, even though it means depriving your kid/wife/family of some freaking awesome life experiences.  Reality is he probably is more in the camp of do as I say not as I do.  Does a 10 year old really need to go to Costa Rica and see monkeys/parrots/sloths in the wild?  Does it bring incredible memories standing (at a safe distance) and seeing an active volcano spew molten lava into the ocean?  Is it frugal to sail through the Bahamas and anchor at your own beach and have sting rays come up to your kid to say hi...nope.  So this guy now makes hundreds of thousands a year but live like a miserly tight wade.  It is admirable that he gives so much to charity, but giving his family some life experiences is not something I'll ever regret and I honestly feel sorry for him that he's painted himself into a corner from a spending standpoint.  My irresponsible guess is his ex-wife would agree with me on this one.


What? The only experiences that are worth anything are expensive/extravagant trips? This is one of my pet peeves in the PF world. My kids seem to have quite a happy childhood playing in their own backyard and spending time with each other and with us. I'm not sure how much more value I could add by taking them on a couple of extravagant trips, although I'm sure it would be fun. It reminds me of the quote "luxury, once experienced, becomes necessity". I don't think it counts as "living like a tightwad" just because we (or MMM) don't do experiences such as the ones you described.

You are missing the point, MMM is now a multi-multi millionaire with all the income in the world and then some to do this stuff.  And it wouldnít even be considered extravagant.  It might push his budget up into the 1% withdrawal rate...but heís not even withdrawing because he has income! 

What you are doing is rationalizing to say an experience you have never done is not a useful endeavor because itís more efficient financially to play in the sandbox in your backyard you built for $17.  He has the means, you only get one life, I just think itís sad that he convinces the sheep to believe there isnít anything worthwhile outside of your backyard to go experience. 

Yes if you are in the wealth accumulation phase donít go on a $20k safari, but if you are worth millions with bank rolling in, but never do anything thatís just sad.  Especially when you convince yourself those things arenít worth doing, but then watch movies and YouTube videos about people out actually living life.

I definitely see your point, but I don't think it is quite the same as my point. Although I will say, you are spot on with the cost of the sandbox. ;)

I think you are definitely right on everything you are saying, and it's actually something I think about quite a bit when it comes to the kids. We want to raise them to appreciate the small things, value hard work and to not expect things like a safari. For example, my SIL takes her kids to Disney every year or two. And they always "surprise" the kids with the news. So sometimes I think, are the kids going to start thinking that every surprise has to be Disney caliber? I have no idea, and I wouldn't go to Disney even if I was a gazillionaire. I would definitely go on a safari though, and I've actually been thinking of that as a long term goal. (My kids are young and crazy, I would not want to travel with them right now. I barely want to take them in public at all!)



Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on July 02, 2020, 07:49:13 AM


It's not a matter of realising or not realising it. This is a thread about aspects in which you disagree with MMM's ethos.

I understand that.  I'm just making an observation that many people don't realize that's one of MMM's core ethos.
In fact, reading over this thread I'm struck by how many members have posted something they 'disagreed' with MMM about, when it's not something that MMM has ever actually endorsed or stood for.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: RWD on July 02, 2020, 08:49:06 AM
That said, here is where I'd disagree with him:

1) For those who are passionate in their field of work and it's what they want to do long term, they don't need to save some insane amount of their income to get to FI asap.  Perhaps a more moderate work/life balance would make sense so that they could better enjoy their life.  I'm not fortunate enough to fall into his category, but if my passion were to be say, a professor, I would probably just enjoy my intellectual pursuits while saving say 20% and not stress so much about saving every single dollar possible.
Not sure why you think MMM is against this. He coined the term "Satisfied Working Advanced Mustachian Individual" (Swami):
https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/04/30/weekend-edition-retire-in-your-mind-even-if-you-love-your-job/

See also: "I find that when people earn their freedom from money constraints, they usually donít stop working. Instead they start doing their best work."
https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2015/04/15/great-news-early-retirement-doesnt-mean-youll-stop-working/
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Zikoris on July 02, 2020, 09:19:34 AM
1) For those who are passionate in their field of work and it's what they want to do long term, they don't need to save some insane amount of their income to get to FI asap.  Perhaps a more moderate work/life balance would make sense so that they could better enjoy their life.  I'm not fortunate enough to fall into his category, but if my passion were to be say, a professor, I would probably just enjoy my intellectual pursuits while saving say 20% and not stress so much about saving every single dollar possible.

2) Sometimes focusing too much on savings can hold you back.  I've found my highest earning years were when I focused more on just that -- earning.  The vast majority of my net worth came when I made some drastic changes to driving my income up, not driving my spending down -- I did all this in a matter of about 3 years.  And for those who think you can do both simultaneously, I disagree.  Driving income up big really takes a lot of focus and almost all of your attention.  I'd go so far to say I attained FI by focusing on income, not spending.   It turns out you in most cases can really move the needle by increasing income more than you can by reducing spending.  Focusing on penny pinching can sometimes work against this aka scarcity mentality.  Penny wise Pound foolish is what happens in these cases.  If you can work on driving up our income and basically just keep your spending reasonable, you can do incredibly well.

I feel obligated to point out that these two are actually the opposite of how you're supposed to do this - you shouldn't have any stress/anxiety about savings, and you shouldn't need to actually focus on it at all beyond briefly at the beginning, because you're supposed to automate it. When it runs in the background it takes up zero mental space, so you can focus on whatever brings you joy in life (whether that's career or something else). One day you wake up rich enough to never work again.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: SimpleCycle on July 02, 2020, 10:12:59 AM
1) For those who are passionate in their field of work and it's what they want to do long term, they don't need to save some insane amount of their income to get to FI asap.  Perhaps a more moderate work/life balance would make sense so that they could better enjoy their life.  I'm not fortunate enough to fall into his category, but if my passion were to be say, a professor, I would probably just enjoy my intellectual pursuits while saving say 20% and not stress so much about saving every single dollar possible.

2) Sometimes focusing too much on savings can hold you back.  I've found my highest earning years were when I focused more on just that -- earning.  The vast majority of my net worth came when I made some drastic changes to driving my income up, not driving my spending down -- I did all this in a matter of about 3 years.  And for those who think you can do both simultaneously, I disagree.  Driving income up big really takes a lot of focus and almost all of your attention.  I'd go so far to say I attained FI by focusing on income, not spending.   It turns out you in most cases can really move the needle by increasing income more than you can by reducing spending.  Focusing on penny pinching can sometimes work against this aka scarcity mentality.  Penny wise Pound foolish is what happens in these cases.  If you can work on driving up our income and basically just keep your spending reasonable, you can do incredibly well.

I feel obligated to point out that these two are actually the opposite of how you're supposed to do this - you shouldn't have any stress/anxiety about savings, and you shouldn't need to actually focus on it at all beyond briefly at the beginning, because you're supposed to automate it. When it runs in the background it takes up zero mental space, so you can focus on whatever brings you joy in life (whether that's career or something else). One day you wake up rich enough to never work again.

I don't think Pete says that though - he actually urges that you practice constant optimization in all areas of your life.  This is the opposite of "set it and forget it" and I think it daunting for a lot of people.

https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/05/15/the-principle-of-constant-optimization/
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mm1970 on July 02, 2020, 10:20:24 AM
2) Sometimes focusing too much on savings can hold you back.  I've found my highest earning years were when I focused more on just that -- earning.  The vast majority of my net worth came when I made some drastic changes to driving my income up, not driving my spending down -- I did all this in a matter of about 3 years.  And for those who think you can do both simultaneously, I disagree.  Driving income up big really takes a lot of focus and almost all of your attention.  I'd go so far to say I attained FI by focusing on income, not spending.   It turns out you in most cases can really move the needle by increasing income more than you can by reducing spending.  Focusing on penny pinching can sometimes work against this aka scarcity mentality.  Penny wise Pound foolish is what happens in these cases.  If you can work on driving up our income and basically just keep your spending reasonable, you can do incredibly well.

For some situations you can work harder and really drive up the income temporarily which can make a big difference.  I don't disagree there.  But, your expenses have a bigger impact on when you can retire than your income.  If you can optimize your life so your expenses drop permanently, that's a long term change rather than a temporary income boost.  It also has benefits in lower tax rates while you are working AND while retired.  Now, if you really don't want to cut expenses, you can focus more on the income side.  There isn't really a wrong answer.  It depends on the individuals preferences and what options they have in their job.
I kind of make an analogy to weight loss.

When I lost weight (when I was fat and after each baby), I had to put a ton of focus on it.  It was hard.  It took a lot of mental and physical work.  I could NOT do that AND keep my grocery budget where it was.  There was just too much involved to do both.  But AFTER I lost the weight, I could maintain my new weight on my old grocery budget.  I could focus on ONE thing.

I am assuming in the case above, that the focus on increasing income wasn't just a temporary income increase.  It's not necessarily "work overtime for 3 years and ignore expenses".  If you are in a career, and you focus on gaining new skills, taking new jobs, and increasing your base pay - well that can very well be permanent.  Once you've settled into your new salary and roles, you can go back to watching your expenses.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: lemonlyman on July 02, 2020, 10:23:01 AM
The blog changed my life! I will be FI by the end of 2021. In the years since finding it (about 6), I have disagreed with some:

1. Index funds being the only worthwhile securities to own.
2. Recent health insurance post that has been well discussed already.
3. Imbalance between car costs vs HCOL real estate. I can purchase a lifetime of cars just from the difference of not living in a similarly priced area as him. I get the environmental reasons, but many of the arguments are presented solely by cost.
4. Also widely discussed: his actual spending.

In general, I don't disagree with much. Very thankful he started the blog.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Zikoris on July 02, 2020, 11:23:35 AM
1) For those who are passionate in their field of work and it's what they want to do long term, they don't need to save some insane amount of their income to get to FI asap.  Perhaps a more moderate work/life balance would make sense so that they could better enjoy their life.  I'm not fortunate enough to fall into his category, but if my passion were to be say, a professor, I would probably just enjoy my intellectual pursuits while saving say 20% and not stress so much about saving every single dollar possible.

2) Sometimes focusing too much on savings can hold you back.  I've found my highest earning years were when I focused more on just that -- earning.  The vast majority of my net worth came when I made some drastic changes to driving my income up, not driving my spending down -- I did all this in a matter of about 3 years.  And for those who think you can do both simultaneously, I disagree.  Driving income up big really takes a lot of focus and almost all of your attention.  I'd go so far to say I attained FI by focusing on income, not spending.   It turns out you in most cases can really move the needle by increasing income more than you can by reducing spending.  Focusing on penny pinching can sometimes work against this aka scarcity mentality.  Penny wise Pound foolish is what happens in these cases.  If you can work on driving up our income and basically just keep your spending reasonable, you can do incredibly well.

I feel obligated to point out that these two are actually the opposite of how you're supposed to do this - you shouldn't have any stress/anxiety about savings, and you shouldn't need to actually focus on it at all beyond briefly at the beginning, because you're supposed to automate it. When it runs in the background it takes up zero mental space, so you can focus on whatever brings you joy in life (whether that's career or something else). One day you wake up rich enough to never work again.

I don't think Pete says that though - he actually urges that you practice constant optimization in all areas of your life.  This is the opposite of "set it and forget it" and I think it daunting for a lot of people.

https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/05/15/the-principle-of-constant-optimization/

Right, but it's not supposed to be some arduous process:

Constant optimization may sound tiring when you list two decades of steps out like I did above, but in reality it is incredibly simple and easy. You just have to keep your mind open, asking yourself occasionally, ďIs there anything I could change for the better?Ē. Often, the answer is no, and you can go on in the old pattern. But sometimes your open mind will find things to improve, and you will be far richer for it.

And also, most of the things he talks about are totally things you just need to optimize at the start and be done with it, like housing, transportation, a general food system, and recurring bills. That's the kind of stuff you really only need to look at, like, once a year at most.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: gaja on July 02, 2020, 11:24:50 AM
1) Preaching that keeping a minimalist lifestyle is the best way to happiness and mocking those who have a different take on life.
2) Sticking to a budget of $27,000 a year that you came up with when you were a kid at 25 years old, even though it means depriving your kid/wife/family of some freaking awesome life experiences.  Reality is he probably is more in the camp of do as I say not as I do.  Does a 10 year old really need to go to Costa Rica and see monkeys/parrots/sloths in the wild?  Does it bring incredible memories standing (at a safe distance) and seeing an active volcano spew molten lava into the ocean?  Is it frugal to sail through the Bahamas and anchor at your own beach and have sting rays come up to your kid to say hi...nope.  So this guy now makes hundreds of thousands a year but live like a miserly tight wade.  It is admirable that he gives so much to charity, but giving his family some life experiences is not something I'll ever regret and I honestly feel sorry for him that he's painted himself into a corner from a spending standpoint.  My irresponsible guess is his ex-wife would agree with me on this one.
3) Pets...enough said
4) Boats, he is correct they are money pits, but there has been no better utilization of my dollars earned.  (other than the money courting my wife)  It's not for everybody, but there is no greater sense of accomplishment than sailing into the distance to a place you cannot see and you've never been to before.  I'm sorry, I've ridden my bike to some cool spots around town...but it is no comparison.

That being said I've got a ton of respect for his work and some of his articles are genius level stuff.  I just wish he would have evolved and grown over time.
Many people here don't have the kind of wealth you do (in the millions) and need to make the trade offs that requires in order to not have to work decades longer. Can't spend time seeing monkeys in the wild with your kid if you are stuck behind a desk 40 hours a week until you are 70. Can't spend much time with your kid or loved ones at all if you're stuck behind a desk 40 hours per week or more until you are 70. There are lots of interesting and unique experiences in life that don't cost much. Some are as simple as having free time to ride your bike with your family whenever you want.

MMM and many others here don't necessarily value those kinds of experiences, or prefer to do them in a less expensive/luxurious way. Often because we found it more interesting and enjoyable to live and adventure on a shoe string.  I did many of those kinds of things when I quit my job at 36 at a tiny tiny fraction of the cost you have. It was a better use of my time then staying at work longer. MMM probably felt the same as a "kid" when he quit work at 30 on his smaller stash. Obviously those are the values and priorities many of us aspire to even if we don't live lavishly.
Agree with Spartana. The idea of separating the cost from the experience, and choose the experiences that truly give you value, is what I really like about the MMM movement. My kids have seen and experienced a lot of things, and we have rarely seen added value by expensive luxury. The local swimming pools in Iceland which cost us $.2 were much more enjoyable than the one time we "splurged" on a fancy outdoor spa targeted at tourists. So when we went to the UK, and the kids wanted to sleep in a castle, we found the Best Western version for £150/night. The kids got to sleep in the tower in a canopy bed, and were super happy. They didn't care that the floor was uneven and the bathroom a bit tired. And I was much more relaxed than I would have been in a super fancy resort, since there wasn't much stuff they could break.

Still I would love to see some tips and advice for people who are going through challenges, like chronic health conditions. Because those challenges are so big, many people in the personal finance world are shying away from this topic.

I don't understand how the advice for these people would be any different from the standard advice of spend less than you earn and invest the difference, accelerate the process by either earning more, spending less or a combination of both.

That's literally all there is to FIRE.

For people with chronic conditions they may have to take out more comprehensive, thus expensive health insurance or take into account the need for more money in their FIRE calculations when thinking about the impact of their conditions on their proposed retirement, but otherwise, it's all the same, surely.

I apologise if I'm being slow, but it's like having a FIRE blog exclusively for people who are left handed.

Life with chronic illnesses is more fundamentally different than most "normal" people understand. I think it could be good to have a place to discuss adaptations, or at least have a thread/blog post with some ideas. A lot of illnesses worsen with stress or as people get older, some get better with age, and others vary with the weather. Because of this, finding good side gigs that can be adapted to the periods you are feeling ok is important. Another aspect is that people with chronic illnesses try to not complain, especially around the healthy, since the healthy often get annoyed or annoyingly helpful. It would be nice having a place to talk to your own, where you can mention that you are feeling a bit tired since you were up all night shitting blood, and it not being a big deal. Sure, there are facebook groups for people with different conditions, but those are often full of expensive diets and cures, and messages about "you need to treat yourself to x or y".
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Imma on July 02, 2020, 01:06:22 PM
@kite Thank you for that post.  You completely nailed why these topics should be discussed.  I'm sorry about your nephew as it sounds like he has a tough road ahead. 

@Spud As someone who is both left-handed and disabled at age 49 (unexpectedly), I can assure you that the two are not the same when it comes to FI and consequences on savings rate, etc.

Yes, I agree (lifelong lefty, disabled since the age of 16). @kite thanks for your great response. I had tried to type a reply earlier but English is not my native language and I struggled to put into words what I tried to say.

@gaja that's a place I would join. I avoid talking about my illness around both healthy and sick people because I don't want to hear 'awww poor you', 'suck it up' or 'you should see doctor X with his magic cure'. I would love practical advice on how to remain independent (not just financially) when your health declines, how to remain in charge of your life and your career. There are very few people that know the true extent of my illness. I've tried to tell my mother but she just starts crying whenever I tell her something that's an unimportant detail to me (like that I inject myself weekly - it's as much a routine as tying shoelaces is ).

Honestly the 'maybe take out more insurance' thing is a great example. Because it's extremely difficult or impossible to get stuff like life insurance once you've got a disability. So that's something you either need to take out while you're healthy (and make sure to take out enough coverage because being sick is expensive) or you have to work around things.

I'm currently looking for a new job and my current employer offers dirt cheap life insurance for next to nothing to all employees, the premium is based on age and they don't ask medical questions. Not everyone even knows that some companies offer these kind of benefits and that would be a super useful thing to know for someone struggling with a health condition. For me that's the most important part of my benefits - more important than a pension because I'm not exactly sure I'll ever reach that age.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on July 02, 2020, 01:11:53 PM
@kite Thank you for that post.  You completely nailed why these topics should be discussed.  I'm sorry about your nephew as it sounds like he has a tough road ahead. 

@Spud As someone who is both left-handed and disabled at age 49 (unexpectedly), I can assure you that the two are not the same when it comes to FI and consequences on savings rate, etc.

Yes, I agree (lifelong lefty, disabled since the age of 16). @kite thanks for your great response. I had tried to type a reply earlier but English is not my native language and I struggled to put into words what I tried to say.

@gaja that's a place I would join. I avoid talking about my illness around both healthy and sick people because I don't want to hear 'awww poor you', 'suck it up' or 'you should see doctor X with his magic cure'. I would love practical advice on how to remain independent (not just financially) when your health declines, how to remain in charge of your life and your career. There are very few people that know the true extent of my illness. I've tried to tell my mother but she just starts crying whenever I tell her something that's an unimportant detail to me (like that I inject myself weekly - it's as much a routine as tying shoelaces is ).

Honestly the 'maybe take out more insurance' thing is a great example. Because it's extremely difficult or impossible to get stuff like life insurance once you've got a disability. So that's something you either need to take out while you're healthy (and make sure to take out enough coverage because being sick is expensive) or you have to work around things.

I'm currently looking for a new job and my current employer offers dirt cheap life insurance for next to nothing to all employees, the premium is based on age and they don't ask medical questions. Not everyone even knows that some companies offer these kind of benefits and that would be a super useful thing to know for someone struggling with a health condition. For me that's the most important part of my benefits - more important than a pension because I'm not exactly sure I'll ever reach that age.

Tying medical insurance to one's employment is one of the stupider things we've done as a country.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Cassie on July 02, 2020, 03:55:50 PM
I think a big difference between my childhood in the 50ís and my kids in 70-80ís was no one had a CC in the 50ís and in 70ís no one charged stuff like vacations. So most were living within their means.  No one had expectations as a kid of taking a expensive trip. Thatís something adults did when they retired. MM can afford nice trips and if it brings him enjoyment thereís no reason he shouldnít do it.  Things seemed to become skewed when everyone wanted things when young that their parents worked a lifetime to obtain. So many people just donít understand that you cannot have everything you want.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mm1970 on July 02, 2020, 04:10:33 PM
I think a big difference between my childhood in the 50ís and my kids in 70-80ís was no one had a CC in the 50ís and in 70ís no one charged stuff like vacations. So most were living within their means.  No one had expectations as a kid of taking a expensive trip. Thatís something adults did when they retired. MM can afford nice trips and if it brings him enjoyment thereís no reason he shouldnít do it.  Things seemed to become skewed when everyone wanted things when young that their parents worked a lifetime to obtain. So many people just donít understand that you cannot have everything you want.
Yup, though my experience was a tad different. I don't know how old my parents were when they got a credit card.  But over the last few years (both my parents long gone, and they divorced when I was a teen), I learned a few things.

We didn't vacation.  We didn't have money to vacation.  We would, maybe once every few summers (probably did this 3 times total), drive to Erie, PA to "camp" in the parking lot across the street from the beach.  It was sort of a campground?  We borrowed an aunt's tent, the kids slept in the tent on the ground, parents slept in the car, ate PB&J, stayed 1 night.

When I was 7, we took an actual vacation.  Drove from PA to NC to stay with an uncle.  One hotel night on the way down, one on the way back.

So...here we are, long time from then.  On FB, my niece and SIL were sharing pictures from her Junior Historians trip to Washington DC.  Nice.  You know?  Things are different now.  But then, my older sisters - 2 or 3 of them, talked about how awesome those trips were.  So many good memories.  What the WHAT??

You see, these sisters are 19, 18, and 15 years older than I am.  When they were in JH, I was either not born or a baby.  There was money for that?  Because I tell you, when I was invited to join (it was half popularity, and half grades, guess where I fell?) I turned it down.  Because I knew there was no way we could afford that (by then my dad was making $12k a year.  You know, 1984-85 I think).  Why join if you can't afford a trip?

But now man, you are right.  Gotta go, even if you can't afford it.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on July 02, 2020, 05:07:01 PM
I think a big difference between my childhood in the 50ís and my kids in 70-80ís was no one had a CC in the 50ís and in 70ís no one charged stuff like vacations. So most were living within their means.  No one had expectations as a kid of taking a expensive trip. Thatís something adults did when they retired. MM can afford nice trips and if it brings him enjoyment thereís no reason he shouldnít do it.  Things seemed to become skewed when everyone wanted things when young that their parents worked a lifetime to obtain. So many people just donít understand that you cannot have everything you want.

This can be seen in the gradual erosion of the personal savings rate. 
Prior to the 1980s the median savings rate stayed north of 10%.  Since then it's frequently below 7%
(https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/fredgraph.png?width=880&height=440&id=PSAVERT)

At the same time total revolving credit has gone up considerably.
Note:  Below graph not adjusted for changes in population.  Real adjusted 2012($)
(https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/fredgraph.png?width=880&height=440&id=REVOLNS)
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Zikoris on July 02, 2020, 05:10:21 PM
I think a big difference between my childhood in the 50ís and my kids in 70-80ís was no one had a CC in the 50ís and in 70ís no one charged stuff like vacations. So most were living within their means.  No one had expectations as a kid of taking a expensive trip. Thatís something adults did when they retired. MM can afford nice trips and if it brings him enjoyment thereís no reason he shouldnít do it.  Things seemed to become skewed when everyone wanted things when young that their parents worked a lifetime to obtain. So many people just donít understand that you cannot have everything you want.

Yeah, it is super weird to see people these days acting like it's some horrible thing if an 8 year old doesn't get to travel overseas. When I was in elementary school in the 90s big trips were so unusual that I can remember basically the few times anyone went anywhere - one year some kid's family made a trip to England, and another year one kid went to some sort of hockey thing in Czechoslovakia back when that still existed. A couple of kids had been to Disneyland at some point. And that's it. Camping, road trips, and visiting relatives were all very common. It's insane to me that some people actually see that as a deprived childhood. And I say this as someone who loves travel and has travelled extensively, as an adult once I could afford it.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: OtherJen on July 02, 2020, 05:38:13 PM
I think a big difference between my childhood in the 50ís and my kids in 70-80ís was no one had a CC in the 50ís and in 70ís no one charged stuff like vacations. So most were living within their means.  No one had expectations as a kid of taking a expensive trip. Thatís something adults did when they retired. MM can afford nice trips and if it brings him enjoyment thereís no reason he shouldnít do it.  Things seemed to become skewed when everyone wanted things when young that their parents worked a lifetime to obtain. So many people just donít understand that you cannot have everything you want.

Yeah, it is super weird to see people these days acting like it's some horrible thing if an 8 year old doesn't get to travel overseas. When I was in elementary school in the 90s big trips were so unusual that I can remember basically the few times anyone went anywhere - one year some kid's family made a trip to England, and another year one kid went to some sort of hockey thing in Czechoslovakia back when that still existed. A couple of kids had been to Disneyland at some point. And that's it. Camping, road trips, and visiting relatives were all very common. It's insane to me that some people actually see that as a deprived childhood. And I say this as someone who loves travel and has travelled extensively, as an adult once I could afford it.

Agreed. I was a kid in the 1980s, and most of our vacations involved visiting my grandparents at their lakefront cabin in northern Michigan. Every few years, my parents would take me to Toronto or Chicago by train for a long weekend, and we would see a musical and visit museums. Iíve never been to Disneyworld/Disneyland, and I didnít get on a plane until I was in my 20s. I donít feel like I had a deprived childhood at all. My parents paid for all of my undergrad education that scholarships didnít cover. I feel a bit spoiled, actually.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: spartana on July 03, 2020, 09:13:16 AM

2) Sticking to a budget of $27,000 a year that you came up with when you were a kid at 25 years old, even though it means depriving your kid/wife/family of some freaking awesome life experiences.  Reality is he probably is more in the camp of do as I say not as I do.  Does a 10 year old really need to go to Costa Rica and see monkeys/parrots/sloths in the wild?  Does it bring incredible memories standing (at a safe distance) and seeing an active volcano spew molten lava into the ocean?  Is it frugal to sail through the Bahamas and anchor at your own beach and have sting rays come up to your kid to say hi...nope.  So this guy now makes hundreds of thousands a year but live like a miserly tight wade.  It is admirable that he gives so much to charity, but giving his family some life experiences is not something I'll ever regret and I honestly feel sorry for him that he's painted himself into a corner from a spending standpoint.  My irresponsible guess is his ex-wife would agree with me on this one.


What? The only experiences that are worth anything are expensive/extravagant trips? This is one of my pet peeves in the PF world. My kids seem to have quite a happy childhood playing in their own backyard and spending time with each other and with us. I'm not sure how much more value I could add by taking them on a couple of extravagant trips, although I'm sure it would be fun. It reminds me of the quote "luxury, once experienced, becomes necessity". I don't think it counts as "living like a tightwad" just because we (or MMM) don't do experiences such as the ones you described.

You are missing the point, MMM is now a multi-multi millionaire with all the income in the world and then some to do this stuff.  And it wouldn’t even be considered extravagant.  It might push his budget up into the 1% withdrawal rate...but he’s not even withdrawing because he has income! 

What you are doing is rationalizing to say an experience you have never done is not a useful endeavor because it’s more efficient financially to play in the sandbox in your backyard you built for $17.  He has the means, you only get one life, I just think it’s sad that he convinces the sheep to believe there isn’t anything worthwhile outside of your backyard to go experience. 

Yes if you are in the wealth accumulation phase don’t go on a $20k safari, but if you are worth millions with bank rolling in, but never do anything that’s just sad.  Especially when you convince yourself those things aren’t worth doing, but then watch movies and YouTube videos about people out actually living life.
But you are missing the point. It isn't about how much money you have, or how many expensive experiences and things you can buy, its about living your values. MMM obviously doesn't value the things you do.

He retired, and remained retired, long before he earned his big blog income. Because he didn't really change his life in any big way just because he can now afford it, proves to me that he has held firm to his values about things and stuff and consumerism and environmentalism and DIY and stoicism and hedonistic adaptation etc...  This to me goes a long way to support his theory about increased spending not necessarily increasing happiness.

So you are basicly in the Dave Ramsey camp of "buy big expensive stuff and spend lavishly if you can". Where as MMM is in the camp of "spending more, just because I can, isn't going to improve my life at all. As a matter of fact it may reduce my happiness quite a bit". A lot of us share that same life philosophy. You could drop a cool billion $$s on my lap right now and I wouldn't change anything in my life at all. No giant 10,000 sf mcmanson ala Dave Ramsy and a fleet of luxury cars and tony spa vacations or my own private island would appeal to me. I think MMM is the same.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Bloop Bloop on July 03, 2020, 07:16:43 PM
The point is MMM's blog posts at times smell derisory of those who like spending on luxuries, whereas those of us who like luxuries don't make negative judgments about MMM's ethos.

I'm calling for less judgment and more understanding all-round.

If your neighbour bought a new Jeep that he can't pay for, that's a problem that he has to deal with, and he will need financial advice from someone (either MMM or whoever else he reaches out to). On the other hand, if he's a billionaire and just bought a new Ferrari and he genuinely likes it, that's a great thing for him and I'm happy for him. I'm not going to sit here and judge others, even though I would never buy a Ferrari even if you gave me the money.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Fru-Gal on July 03, 2020, 07:51:38 PM
Where do you think he got the wealth to do the things you criticize, such as self-insure or buy a coworking space?

For every thread like this, know there are plenty of lurkers who agree with MMM's most controversial positions -- or at least accept them as novel ways of thinking -- and have learned not to express that support among the throngs of woke consumers.

Beyond that, I believe MMM's true goal is to improve not just your wallet but the planet.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Dicey on July 04, 2020, 07:09:02 AM
@kite Thank you for that post.  You completely nailed why these topics should be discussed.  I'm sorry about your nephew as it sounds like he has a tough road ahead. 

@Spud As someone who is both left-handed and disabled at age 49 (unexpectedly), I can assure you that the two are not the same when it comes to FI and consequences on savings rate, etc.

Yes, I agree (lifelong lefty, disabled since the age of 16). @kite thanks for your great response. I had tried to type a reply earlier but English is not my native language and I struggled to put into words what I tried to say.

@gaja that's a place I would join. I avoid talking about my illness around both healthy and sick people because I don't want to hear 'awww poor you', 'suck it up' or 'you should see doctor X with his magic cure'. I would love practical advice on how to remain independent (not just financially) when your health declines, how to remain in charge of your life and your career. There are very few people that know the true extent of my illness. I've tried to tell my mother but she just starts crying whenever I tell her something that's an unimportant detail to me (like that I inject myself weekly - it's as much a routine as tying shoelaces is ).

Honestly the 'maybe take out more insurance' thing is a great example. Because it's extremely difficult or impossible to get stuff like life insurance once you've got a disability. So that's something you either need to take out while you're healthy (and make sure to take out enough coverage because being sick is expensive) or you have to work around things.

I'm currently looking for a new job and my current employer offers dirt cheap life insurance for next to nothing to all employees, the premium is based on age and they don't ask medical questions. Not everyone even knows that some companies offer these kind of benefits and that would be a super useful thing to know for someone struggling with a health condition. For me that's the most important part of my benefits - more important than a pension because I'm not exactly sure I'll ever reach that age.

Tying medical insurance to one's employment is one of the stupider things we've done as a country.
True. Fortunately, Imma is not US based.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: spartana on July 04, 2020, 09:00:57 AM
The point is MMM's blog posts at times smell derisory of those who like spending on luxuries, whereas those of us who like luxuries don't make negative judgments about MMM's ethos.

I'm calling for less judgment and more understanding all-round.

If your neighbour bought a new Jeep that he can't pay for, that's a problem that he has to deal with, and he will need financial advice from someone (either MMM or whoever else he reaches out to). On the other hand, if he's a billionaire and just bought a new Ferrari and he genuinely likes it, that's a great thing for him and I'm happy for him. I'm not going to sit here and judge others, even though I would never buy a Ferrari even if you gave me the money.
But isn't that the whole point of the MMM blog? To get consumers to get off the hedonistic threadmill and find a better way to live? One that discounts most luxury items we want as something much less valuable then the freedom FI can bring and escaping years (decades?) working longer just so we can have those luxuries? That those luxuries can lead us down the path of never-ending hedonistic adaption and greater loss of economic freedom? And that, yes, buying into those luxuries face-punch worthy.

I could go on but you get the point. To me it is kind of funny when people read his blog, hear the message, yet come here and get butt-hurt when they get called out for complaining that they don't like the message. Its like someone who likes to drink and wants to continue drinking going to an AA meeting full of people who want to learn how to stop drinking and are trying to make the changes to their life. People who joined that type of meeting because it espoused stopping drinking and making those changes. Then telling them how they don't want to or plan to stop drinking and thing the whole thing is just stupid. Most people would probably just choose not to attend that kind of meeting of it wasn't something they were interest in.

ETA I doubt if any billionaire or "normal" (i.e. spendy) millionaire would find any value in the MMM message and would look more at an investment blog where spending on luxury item is not only encouraged because YOLO, but also the goal. 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Bloop Bloop on July 04, 2020, 09:04:53 AM
Yeah, I agree most luxury items are spurred on by "bad" things like the hedonic treadmill or status anxiety. But I think it is worthwhile acknowledging that not all expensive purchases are necessarily in that camp. And that it's important not to try to oversimplify all purchases in that manner. Like, whenever I see someone posting "Jeez when I see a clown car all I see is debt" then I think that is unnecessary judgment cause it conflates several things at once. There are people driving clown cars who have more financial/lifestyle freedom than people living frugally.

Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: spartana on July 04, 2020, 10:28:16 AM
Yeah, I agree most luxury items are spurred on by "bad" things like the hedonic treadmill or status anxiety. But I think it is worthwhile acknowledging that not all expensive purchases are necessarily in that camp. And that it's important not to try to oversimplify all purchases in that manner. Like, whenever I see someone posting "Jeez when I see a clown car all I see is debt" then I think that is unnecessary judgment cause it conflates several things at once. There are people driving clown cars who have more financial/lifestyle freedom than people living frugally.
Sure not all luxury is debt driven or bad. I have my own luxury purchases ;-). But I think the ethos of the MMM blog is to assume most people are "consumer sukkas" deep in debt who are trying to keep up with a lifestyle they really can't afford and will never free themselves from if they keep on that path. So his whole website is geared toward that and needs be to understood in that vain.

When I see expensive cars I have no idea if it is owned by Scrooge McDuck who bought it with cash from their spare change or someone with maxed out CCs who is $1 in their bank account. However the people I do know are in the "spend it all and then some" camp so I do make some assumptions. But I assume most people here aren't buying Ferraris from spare change and most are here because they want to become FI and also not fall prey to over-the-top consumerism regardless of their own preferred luxuries.

Unlike most other FIRE blogs,  MMM is all about calling out and judging various behaviors more harshly as a way to get people to recognise how their choices are only harming their FI and RE plans. More the drill sargent approach then the coddle-them-with-kindness-non-judgement approach. Both are effective but each depend on the who the audience is.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: deborah on July 04, 2020, 10:55:50 AM
@spartana , I agree entirely. While I donít think MMM himself has ever commented on some of my joys of life - the luxury of going to bed in fresh sheets, the way the world looks from my window early in the morning when the sun is kissing the mountains and every leaf of every tree is wreathed in sunlight, the peace of being with a good companion... all these things are free, and are part of the celebration of frugality and what matters most in life that is an integral part of the MMM message.

Pete and his blog are trying to get across to us that the things we value most are generally the more inexpensive things in our life, and that clutter (including clown cars and houses) often deny us the experiences we value most. There are always some things that each of us can buy that will give us continued joy - for me, a sewing machine, for Pete it may be a woodworking tool or a bike - but these are highly individual and limited.

I wonít get joy from having more than a few sewing machines. Theyíd clutter up my life, gathering dust, and stopping me from experiencing the other joys of life if I spent too much time with them. The same goes for travel - there are amazing places out there, but there are also amazing places close to home. Having an appreciation of the joys of your own environment can also lead you to less traveled places that might be uniquely suited to your individuality. In my experience, these have brought me more joy than the places where everyone else goes.

Being part of your own community and the simple joys that brings arenít celebrated in the MMM blog, nor here in the forum, yet if you look at it, these are some of the most important and lasting things that frugality, practising simplicity, and retiring early can give you.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Cassie on July 04, 2020, 12:43:18 PM
When we were young we had neighbors that always lived on the edge financially and were always stressed out. Their kids always had the latest stuff. They and my husband worked in the auto industry which was feast or famine. They had 2 good incomes and we had one. We saved for when layoffs occurred we were fine. We also paid cash for 3 college degrees for me.  They came close to losing their home and cars.  This was a good lesson for our kids.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: LWYRUP on July 04, 2020, 05:02:25 PM
@deborah, that was all very well put, especially the part about travel.

I think some people (my friends, not a forum comment) that unless you are flying off to Fiji you can't have fun.  I love seeing all sorts of local places, camping at the local state park, getting ice cream a a country store, going to a museum (after pandemic), going fishing. 

These things are free or close to it and lots of fun.  I travel too, I just balance the big trips (every few years) and the low key ones.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Spud on July 04, 2020, 10:57:05 PM
@kite Thank you for that post.  You completely nailed why these topics should be discussed.  I'm sorry about your nephew as it sounds like he has a tough road ahead. 

@Spud As someone who is both left-handed and disabled at age 49 (unexpectedly), I can assure you that the two are not the same when it comes to FI and consequences on savings rate, etc.

Tell me, since you became disabled unexpectedly at age 49, have you been struggling because of the lack of posts that MMM has written specifically for people who became disabled unexpectedly at age 49? My bet is that you don't need specific advice on finances just because you're disabled now. You're sharp enough to continue applying what you learned during the time before you became disabled and adapt it as and when you need it.

That's all I was trying to say with my left handed comment.

Imma's comment in her post just made me wonder why people facing challenges such as chronic conditions need specific advice from MMM. Why would someone with chronic conditions expect that kind of content from MMM when he probably has no experience in that area of life?

It just struck me as odd.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Playing with Fire UK on July 05, 2020, 01:01:29 AM
I'm so confused by all of this.  Seriously, if I showed up at an EscapeVelocity Meetup that was inspired by my philosophy and writings and someone told me I had inspired them and wanted a picture, I would not think it was unusual.  I would have thought about it all beforehand or probably had it happen to me many times, and I'd have a stock answer or work-around - like the group photo. 

I can see this side of it too. If you make a lot of money being a public personality, and then go voluntarily engage in being a public personality, you shouldn't be surprised if people expect you to act like a public personality.

I guess what I'm saying is that if someone doesn't want to take a picture, that's 100% cool and you should respect that decision. But you're not wrong to silently judge that person :)

I agree @mathlete

Many people dislike having photos taken and that doesn't necessarily go away just because a blog takes off. Being slightly internet-famous just amplifies this as you have a lot more requests and you need to draw the line somewhere. If you take photos at an event do you then get people barging in and asking for a photo while you are at the supermarket or when feeling unwell at the pharmacy or in the waiting room at the STI clinic... It's easier to say no to everyone than get into debate as to why this photo but not this one.

There is also a not-insignificant danger that a photo can be used maliciously, or be taken innocently but then used out of context. A friendly-looking photo with MMM could end up on any website with the suggestion or caption "me and my good friend Pete who agrees with my views on: 4x4s, kicking puppies and using cyclists for target practice".
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Playing with Fire UK on July 05, 2020, 01:16:34 AM
@kite Thank you for that post.  You completely nailed why these topics should be discussed.  I'm sorry about your nephew as it sounds like he has a tough road ahead. 

@Spud As someone who is both left-handed and disabled at age 49 (unexpectedly), I can assure you that the two are not the same when it comes to FI and consequences on savings rate, etc.

Tell me, since you became disabled unexpectedly at age 49, have you been struggling because of the lack of posts that MMM has written specifically for people who became disabled unexpectedly at age 49? My bet is that you don't need specific advice on finances just because you're disabled now. You're sharp enough to continue applying what you learned during the time before you became disabled and adapt it as and when you need it.

That's all I was trying to say with my left handed comment.

Imma's comment in her post just made me wonder why people facing challenges such as chronic conditions need specific advice from MMM. Why would someone with chronic conditions expect that kind of content from MMM when he probably has no experience in that area of life?

It just struck me as odd.

It isn't that MMM needs to provide niche advice around disabilities, but that he is providing terrible advice for people who become (or could become) disabled by suggesting that salads and bike rides are a substitute for health insurance.

I speculate without evidence that perhaps forgoing health insurance makes more sense for MMM because he is hugely wealthy and (I think) has the option to return to Canada if he developed a serious, expensive medical condition. This doesn't make it a poor decision for him, but it also doesn't make this approach useful for other people who don't have these options.

It'd be like me making a website on how to put your hand into a fire soaked in gasoline without mentioning that the risk is wildly lower for me because I have a prosthesis. The risk is reasonable for me, but that doesn't mean I should be online talking how fun it is to play with fire and that I consider it low risk it is without a warning that others not try this at home.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: ender on July 05, 2020, 06:43:37 AM
It isn't that MMM needs to provide niche advice around disabilities, but that he is providing terrible advice for people who become (or could become) disabled by suggesting that salads and bike rides are a substitute for health insurance.

I speculate without evidence that perhaps forgoing health insurance makes more sense for MMM because he is hugely wealthy and (I think) has the option to return to Canada if he developed a serious, expensive medical condition. This doesn't make it a poor decision for him, but it also doesn't make this approach useful for other people who don't have these options.

It'd be like me making a website on how to put your hand into a fire soaked in gasoline without mentioning that the risk is wildly lower for me because I have a prosthesis. The risk is reasonable for me, but that doesn't mean I should be online talking how fun it is to play with fire and that I consider it low risk it is without a warning that others not try this at home.

+1

I'm a relatively healthy youngish guy and I completely agree with this.

Context makes a huge difference around decisions like insurance.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: spartana on July 05, 2020, 08:41:25 AM
It isn't that MMM needs to provide niche advice around disabilities, but that he is providing terrible advice for people who become (or could become) disabled by suggesting that salads and bike rides are a substitute for health insurance.

I speculate without evidence that perhaps forgoing health insurance makes more sense for MMM because he is hugely wealthy and (I think) has the option to return to Canada if he developed a serious, expensive medical condition. This doesn't make it a poor decision for him, but it also doesn't make this approach useful for other people who don't have these options.

It'd be like me making a website on how to put your hand into a fire soaked in gasoline without mentioning that the risk is wildly lower for me because I have a prosthesis. The risk is reasonable for me, but that doesn't mean I should be online talking how fun it is to play with fire and that I consider it low risk it is without a warning that others not try this at home.

+1

I'm a relatively healthy youngish guy and I completely agree with this.

Context makes a huge difference around decisions like insurance.
I wonder how long MMM went without health I insurance for himself and family BEFORE he became hugely wealthy? Any one know? It seems like he didn't start his blog for 5 or more years after he quit working but was living off a slowish stash then. Was he covered under his wife's plan (if she worked) or was going back to Canada the plan? I think at some point he went on the ACA until his blog income meant he couldn't receive any subsidies.

I could be wrong about all that but if not then it shows he didn't completely go without health insurance. I also don't recall him saying people in the US shouldn't buy health insurance just that he didn't. Same with house insurance. I think going without either is massively crazy and totally disagree with him if that is what he tell others to do.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: ender on July 05, 2020, 08:51:45 AM
I wonder how long MMM went without health I insurance for himself and family BEFORE he became hugely wealthy? Any one know? It seems like he didn't start his blog for 5 or more years after he quit working but was living off a slowish stash then. Was he covered under his wife's plan (if she worked) or was going back to Canada the plan? I think at some point he went on the ACA until his blog income meant he couldn't receive any subsidies.

I could be wrong about all that but if not then it shows he didn't completely go without health insurance. I also don't recall him saying people in the US shouldn't buy health insurance just that he didn't. Same with house insurance. I think going without either is massively crazy and totally disagree with him if that is what he tell others to do.

I believe he used to get very high deductible plans (which don't really exist anymore) which meant he effectively had insurance for catastrophic events only.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: spartana on July 05, 2020, 09:03:05 AM
I wonder how long MMM went without health I insurance for himself and family BEFORE he became hugely wealthy? Any one know? It seems like he didn't start his blog for 5 or more years after he quit working but was living off a slowish stash then. Was he covered under his wife's plan (if she worked) or was going back to Canada the plan? I think at some point he went on the ACA until his blog income meant he couldn't receive any subsidies.

I could be wrong about all that but if not then it shows he didn't completely go without health insurance. I also don't recall him saying people in the US shouldn't buy health insurance just that he didn't. Same with house insurance. I think going without either is massively crazy and totally disagree with him if that is what he tell others to do.

I believe he used to get very high deductible plans (which don't really exist anymore) which meant he effectively had insurance for catastrophic events only.
Thanks. Yeah I had a catostropic plan also (after COBRA) when I quit work pre-ACA. Good way to protect the stash if you don't need much healthcare or could fund the basic stuff yourself. It went away once the ACA was enacted but I got other insurance (not being a crazy person!). One big bill would wipe me out. I imagine it would most Americans.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Monkey Uncle on July 05, 2020, 09:31:18 AM
I wonder how long MMM went without health I insurance for himself and family BEFORE he became hugely wealthy? Any one know? It seems like he didn't start his blog for 5 or more years after he quit working but was living off a slowish stash then. Was he covered under his wife's plan (if she worked) or was going back to Canada the plan? I think at some point he went on the ACA until his blog income meant he couldn't receive any subsidies.

I could be wrong about all that but if not then it shows he didn't completely go without health insurance. I also don't recall him saying people in the US shouldn't buy health insurance just that he didn't. Same with house insurance. I think going without either is massively crazy and totally disagree with him if that is what he tell others to do.
I believe he used to get very high deductible plans (which don't really exist anymore) which meant he effectively had insurance for catastrophic events only.
I seem to recall an older blog post where he said it was unwise to go without health insurance due to the potential for one big event to wipe you out.  Of course I can't find it now.


Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: ender on July 05, 2020, 11:19:58 AM
Thanks. Yeah I had a catostropic plan also (after COBRA) when I quit work pre-ACA. Good way to protect the stash if you don't need much healthcare or could fund the basic stuff yourself. It went away once the ACA was enacted but I got other insurance (not being a crazy person!). One big bill would wipe me out. I imagine it would most Americans.

This was 2012 but he had a plan with a 10k individual/20k family deductible -  https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/11/01/our-new-237-per-month-health-insurance-plan/

Not finding anything more recently nor is it clear what his stash was when he bailed on insurance entirely. At a certain asset level I can see self insuring making sense.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Monkey Uncle on July 05, 2020, 12:22:48 PM
Thanks. Yeah I had a catostropic plan also (after COBRA) when I quit work pre-ACA. Good way to protect the stash if you don't need much healthcare or could fund the basic stuff yourself. It went away once the ACA was enacted but I got other insurance (not being a crazy person!). One big bill would wipe me out. I imagine it would most Americans.

This was 2012 but he had a plan with a 10k individual/20k family deductible -  https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/11/01/our-new-237-per-month-health-insurance-plan/

Not finding anything more recently nor is it clear what his stash was when he bailed on insurance entirely. At a certain asset level I can see self insuring making sense.

He had ACA insurance as recently as 2017: https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2017/11/05/when-your-shitty-health-insurance-doubles-in-price/ (https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2017/11/05/when-your-shitty-health-insurance-doubles-in-price/)
He was complaining about how expensive it was and considering doing without, but it looks like he ultimately decided to continue for at least one more year.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Cassie on July 05, 2020, 02:34:24 PM
When he lists his yearly expenses I just double it because of the many expenses he puts under business. To me thatís a more realistic assessment of his expenses. The real badass is Spartana who actually lives on a small income.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Missy B on July 05, 2020, 10:09:21 PM
Hey I made it through 3 pages without seeing anyone mention my complaint.

I joined the forum circa 2012 or so when I was bored out of my mind at my internship just before graduating college. I was reading about how to retire early and voila, I ran into an article about MMM. I was instantly hooked. Not because of his silly writing style but because of the back of the napkin math. I also really enjoyed his posts on upgrading his house with better insulation, hot water pipes underneath the kitchen floor, etc. It was the perfect blend of a early retirement, home DIY, and personality.

I knew the blog was him putting on a bit of character, but I followed the blog for a long time. Probably for about 3-4 years. The last 4 years have really only been me using the forum. BUT! Spring 2017, MMM was making the rounds to different cities. So I was thinking "Of course I have to go out and meet this dude. He totally flipped my life upside down and gave me a goal and a path out of cubicle land". So I go to the MMM meetup in downtown Portland that was being held at the LearningTree HQ. I get there and meet a bunch of awesome people. I'm also waiting my turn to go up and maybe chat with Pete for like 5 minutes tell him that his ideas and blog basically allowed me and my SO to quit our jobs and take a sabbatical for a year to go overseas.

He seems like a pretty cool, chill dude. My SO really wants to take a picture with him. So before we say goodbye and a final thanks, SO asks for a picture. And he says "Yeah I don't really like taking pictures, it just feels fake to me." Then he kind of motions that we should instead take a candid picture with just him in the background somewhere. Honestly, for a dude that puts on such a ridiculous persona for a blog, suddenly in person didn't want to "feel fake".

It rubbed us the wrong way. We just came away from that interaction thinking "wow, MMM is a lot weirder than I imagined he would be". I still appreciate the forum and some of the old blog posts, but the thing I liked least about MMM was his poor fan interaction. I can't help but think of that moment whenever I'm reading his blog now: "I'm just reading the blog of some weird dude in Colorado."
Is that weird though? A lot of people don't like their pictures taken by and with people, especially random strangers, for a variety of personal reasons.  While MMM is a crafted persona, Pete is a "real boy" and may not be comfortable with the lack of control he has over photos people take with him. I'm a weirdo too. But then I'm not a famous internet blogger. Or am I ;)? No I'm not but am very private especially around Mustashians I've met who post here.
I agree, and I think there are lots of good reasons not to get your picture taken with someone you have known a grand total of 5 minutes.
There's a wierd entitlement thing generally around the expectation that if someone has a wide audience and you're part of that audience, that you deserve a picture with them. And what's that about? So you can brag to your friends that you met so-and-so in person? Why else does someone need a photo of someone famous that they don't actually know? Honestly, to me that does seem fake.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Kyle Schuant on July 05, 2020, 11:06:19 PM
I don't take his advice as a literal exact prescription. I just take it as: carefully consider how you earn your money, and how you spend it, oh and by the way here are some examples.

I'm not really interested in retiring early. Many people seem to have the idea that they should work hard for 40hr a week for 40 years so they can then work 0hr a week for 20 years. Some of the FIRE crowd adapt that by saying, "well if you're frugal, then the 40yr work becomes 20." But it's the same thing, really.

But there are other options. For example, if you're frugal then you're essentially living on (for example) 20 of your 40 hours a week - so why not just work 20hr pw forever? Or, let's say you want to live on $40k, rather than doing a job you hate for $80k and then bailing on it after 20 years, do a job you love for $40k. Or maybe you don't give a damn what you do for a paid job, but you really care about your children, or volunteering for the Red Cross - so you do a job which you may love or hate, but you aren't that bothered by it, because it funds this other thing you do love to do.

And so on. There are many possibilities. The point is not that this or that lifestyle is ideal for everyone, but that the life you choose should be one you choose after careful thought, not one you just drift into. Many people just drift into things and then are unhappy.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: spartana on July 05, 2020, 11:35:14 PM
When he lists his yearly expenses I just double it because of the many expenses he puts under business. To me that’s a more realistic assessment of his expenses. The real badass is Spartana who actually lives on a small income.
Thanks. But maybe I'm just cheap ;-). Do have some advantages that many others don't like low cost healthcare and nothing unusual that costs me extra but otherwise I dont really spend much. I think MMMs life would be similar to mine if he didn't have the blog income. He'd probably still be spending a lower amount and probably still be happy with that.  At least that's what Id like to believe.

FWIW I don't think there is anything wrong with MMM increasing his spending as his income grew. He FIREd successfully with less, so I look at that not what he spends now.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: slappy on July 06, 2020, 06:26:34 AM
I don't take his advice as a literal exact prescription. I just take it as: carefully consider how you earn your money, and how you spend it, oh and by the way here are some examples.

I'm not really interested in retiring early. Many people seem to have the idea that they should work hard for 40hr a week for 40 years so they can then work 0hr a week for 20 years. Some of the FIRE crowd adapt that by saying, "well if you're frugal, then the 40yr work becomes 20." But it's the same thing, really.

But there are other options. For example, if you're frugal then you're essentially living on (for example) 20 of your 40 hours a week - so why not just work 20hr pw forever? Or, let's say you want to live on $40k, rather than doing a job you hate for $80k and then bailing on it after 20 years, do a job you love for $40k. Or maybe you don't give a damn what you do for a paid job, but you really care about your children, or volunteering for the Red Cross - so you do a job which you may love or hate, but you aren't that bothered by it, because it funds this other thing you do love to do.

And so on. There are many possibilities. The point is not that this or that lifestyle is ideal for everyone, but that the life you choose should be one you choose after careful thought, not one you just drift into. Many people just drift into things and then are unhappy.

For me, it's about choice. It's easy to say you're not interested in retiring early now. Who knows how you will feel in 5 or 10 years. Besides that, many people have mentioned disability. You may not have a choice at some point, whether that's "early" or not. So for me, I just want to put myself in the best position so that I can have choices. Essentially FU money I guess. My example is that DH and I saved as much as we could before we had kids. Our plan was to have two working parents, and I figured that once daycare costs came along we may not be able to save as much, so I wanted to front load the savings. In a completely unexpected and somewhat tragic turn of events, my DH is now a SAHD, and our savings rate has fallen. I'm very grateful that he was able to walk about from a very bad situation because we had saved in the past even though we "didn't want to retire early". My plan is to hit my 25x expenses and then do something else, part time or whatever. Hopefully enough to cover all expenses, but maybe only enough to cover half. That still brings my withdrawal rate way down and reduces pressure on my portfolio.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: ender on July 06, 2020, 07:26:36 AM
For me, it's about choice. It's easy to say you're not interested in retiring early now. Who knows how you will feel in 5 or 10 years.

+100

I do not know when/if I will end up retiring early. But being FI will almost assuredly have positive benefits on my career and lifestyle and so we aggressively save.

Maybe that means we retire early, maybe not. But... it's certainly a lot better to hate your job with a million in savings and significant FU money than it is to have $0.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: kite on July 06, 2020, 08:38:49 AM
@kite Thank you for that post.  You completely nailed why these topics should be discussed.  I'm sorry about your nephew as it sounds like he has a tough road ahead. 

@Spud As someone who is both left-handed and disabled at age 49 (unexpectedly), I can assure you that the two are not the same when it comes to FI and consequences on savings rate, etc.

Tell me, since you became disabled unexpectedly at age 49, have you been struggling because of the lack of posts that MMM has written specifically for people who became disabled unexpectedly at age 49? My bet is that you don't need specific advice on finances just because you're disabled now. You're sharp enough to continue applying what you learned during the time before you became disabled and adapt it as and when you need it.

That's all I was trying to say with my left handed comment.

Imma's comment in her post just made me wonder why people facing challenges such as chronic conditions need specific advice from MMM. Why would someone with chronic conditions expect that kind of content from MMM when he probably has no experience in that area of life?

It just struck me as odd.

MMM, like every other blogger, writes what he knows.  If disability hasnít [yet] come onto his radar, itís no surprise that he would glide right by it as though it doesnít exist.  And this is his sandbox, so he gets to do that.   But disability or chronic conditions are not a niche.  It is the present or future condition of most of us. Pointing out the omission isnít a complaint that MMM failed to address our specific challenges.  Itís more akin to Abraham Wald noting survivorship bias.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: spartana on July 06, 2020, 09:35:47 AM
@kite Thank you for that post.  You completely nailed why these topics should be discussed.  I'm sorry about your nephew as it sounds like he has a tough road ahead. 

@Spud As someone who is both left-handed and disabled at age 49 (unexpectedly), I can assure you that the two are not the same when it comes to FI and consequences on savings rate, etc.

Tell me, since you became disabled unexpectedly at age 49, have you been struggling because of the lack of posts that MMM has written specifically for people who became disabled unexpectedly at age 49? My bet is that you don't need specific advice on finances just because you're disabled now. You're sharp enough to continue applying what you learned during the time before you became disabled and adapt it as and when you need it.

That's all I was trying to say with my left handed comment.

Imma's comment in her post just made me wonder why people facing challenges such as chronic conditions need specific advice from MMM. Why would someone with chronic conditions expect that kind of content from MMM when he probably has no experience in that area of life?

It just struck me as odd.

MMM, like every other blogger, writes what he knows.  If disability hasn’t [yet] come onto his radar, it’s no surprise that he would glide right by it as though it doesn’t exist.  And this is his sandbox, so he gets to do that.   But disability or chronic conditions are not a niche.  It is the present or future condition of most of us. Pointing out the omission isn’t a complaint that MMM failed to address our specific challenges.  It’s more akin to Abraham Wald noting survivorship bias.
He didn't touch on the financial aspects of divorce much either and that did happen to him. So maybe he wouldn't write much about the financial effects of a disability either.

Maybe he assumes that most people would have to look at their own situation and evaluate it seperate from any advice he could give. Giving tips about how to reduce expenses or increase income thru badassidy probably wouldn't be very helpful if someone couldn't do the things he suggested.

 Of course he could always do a "what if" blog about a topic like divorce or disability about what he or others could do to off set those. Especially lower income people hoping to FIRE or already FIRE. It sounded like his divorce with his blog income didn't impact them much but that might have been a different story if they were still living on $25k/year. What would be his advice to pre-blog MMM?

But in any case, his advice to lower expenses and save more would put most people in hard situations on better footing.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: spartana on July 06, 2020, 09:44:38 AM
For me, it's about choice. It's easy to say you're not interested in retiring early now. Who knows how you will feel in 5 or 10 years.

+100

I do not know when/if I will end up retiring early. But being FI will almost assuredly have positive benefits on my career and lifestyle and so we aggressively save.

Maybe that means we retire early, maybe not. But... it's certainly a lot better to hate your job with a million in savings and significant FU money than it is to have $0.
Yes this. Becoming FI, even lean FI, means you are an independent person who can eliminate your neediness on others for an outside income. If you don't want to retire, then of course you don't have to. Being dependent on others the vast majority of your life because you need a job - even a part time or low paging job - means you will forever be held in thrall. Even into old age maybe. I think many non-Mustashians dealing with all the covid shutdowns are sadly coming to that realization. Getting to barebones FI, or even Coast FI, will allow you many choices. Including to work as much or little as you want.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Playing with Fire UK on July 06, 2020, 01:21:00 PM
MMM, like every other blogger, writes what he knows.  If disability hasnít [yet] come onto his radar, itís no surprise that he would glide right by it as though it doesnít exist.  And this is his sandbox, so he gets to do that.   But disability or chronic conditions are not a niche.  It is the present or future condition of most of us. Pointing out the omission isnít a complaint that MMM failed to address our specific challenges.  Itís more akin to Abraham Wald noting survivorship bias.

Very well said @kite - both that MMM has missed out something important and that we can acknowledge a gap without demanding anything different.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: exit2019 on July 06, 2020, 02:12:10 PM
So if you take care of your house, a tornado won't hit it. But if it does, and you care, then it's because you bought a house you couldn't afford to lose

...

But his underlying message is that if they get sick, it's because they didn't take good enough care of themselves.

I was going to post exactly this.  He doesn't seem to understand things like survivorship bias at all, and talks a lot about "the statistics" while very, very clearly having no understanding at all about how statistics works.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: lemonlyman on July 07, 2020, 09:56:25 AM
Adding Covid tweets to my list.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Nick_Miller on July 07, 2020, 10:27:10 AM
Adding Covid tweets to my list.

Yeah, add me to that. I avoid twitter battles, but I really had to fight the urge to respond.

Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Garrett B. on July 07, 2020, 12:50:30 PM
Did you guys see MMM's tweet today?  He said statistically, all you need to fight COVID are salads, bikes and barbells. 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: solon on July 07, 2020, 01:22:51 PM
Did you guys see MMM's tweet today?  He said statistically, all you need to fight COVID are salads, bikes and barbells.

Clearly, that's not what he said. He just said that focusing on those three things has a bigger impact than focusing on COVID.
Quote
Statistically speaking, these three Circles of Life have a MUCH bigger positive impact on your health and longevity, than whether you happen to catch or dodge COVID.

So why are we wasting our time arguing about who is wearing masks?

Bikes, Barbells and Salads.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Laura33 on July 07, 2020, 01:33:14 PM
I had to go read the tweets after the earlier posts.  All I can say is:  holy shit.  Why do "waste our time" worrying about masks?  Really?  Uhhhhh, how about because wearing masks and taking care of ourselves in other ways (salads/bikes/barbells) ARE NOT FUCKING MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE. 

It's like saying "why worry about seatbelts when you drive?  You'll reduce your risks of car crashes much more by driving less and biking more."  Entirely true!  And yet you still put on your fucking seatbelt when you DO drive, because now matter how much you reduce your overall risks by driving less, that means jack squat when you ARE driving.

For a smart guy, he can be really, really stupid about things that don't fit his master-of-the-universe worldview.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: lemonlyman on July 07, 2020, 01:36:23 PM
Because masks help protect the most vulnerable among us. You might skate through with barely any symptoms but give it to someone who later dies while riding around on your bike clearing your throat. Statistically speaking, what he said makes no sense.

He also assumes NY infection rate improvements are the result of herd immunity vs mass lockdown and mask policy. I hope he also illuminates us on Florida's prospects for herd immunity soon.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Garrett B. on July 07, 2020, 01:39:46 PM
Because masks help protect the most vulnerable among us. You might skate through with barely any symptoms but give it to someone who later dies while riding around on your bike clearing your throat. Statistically speaking, what he said makes no sense.

He also assumes NY infection rate improvements are the result of herd immunity vs mass lockdown and mask policy. I hope he also illuminates us on Florida's prospects for herd immunity soon.
Sounds like MMM is on his way to becoming a medical doctor, with an expertise in infectious diseases! 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: PoutineLover on July 07, 2020, 01:43:19 PM
I can't speak to his actual view obviously, but I interpreted the tweet somewhat differently.
"So why are we wasting our time arguing about who is wearing masks?"
We can and should wear masks ourselves, but arguing about other people wearing them is unlikely to make any difference and is a waste of time. If you want to advocate for policies on masks, speak to your own family or friends, and wear one yourself, more power to you. But having discussions on the internet about other people's behaviour is totally useless and counterproductive.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mathlete on July 07, 2020, 01:44:00 PM
Lol I don't follow MMM on Twitter but my eyes just about rolled out of my head on that tweet. I agree that focusing on things you have control over is usually a good thing. But I guess when you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Heart disease and diabetes are huge public health issues in the US. I'm all for encouraging healthy eating and exercise. But if you don't have anything to say regarding the emerging risk of a novel virus, maybe keep your mouth shut about salads. Neil DeGrasse Tyson levels of unhelpfulness. :)

Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: solon on July 07, 2020, 01:49:42 PM
There's also this comment:
Quote
Masks are great way to care for others in the current era.

But choosing not to drive a car - especially in cities - is also a really big one in all times as well.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mathlete on July 07, 2020, 01:53:53 PM
"It is such bullshit that the news focuses on scary but insignificant things, while ignoring much bigger things that we can control."

Insignificant! With over half a million deaths worldwide. What the shit.

I find that the people who complain about "the news this" and "the news that" are really talking about their own impression of the news. They probably consume very little news media themselves. After all, why would you need to read anything, or listen to anyone else when you already know everything?

I've been a subscriber to the Washington Post for years. Their pandemic coverage has been excellent (and free, by the way). Today, they included an article about things you can do with your kids outdoors this Summer while the virus stuff is closing things down and altering plans. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2020/07/07/10-ways-help-your-child-fall-love-with-nature-this-summer/ (https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2020/07/07/10-ways-help-your-child-fall-love-with-nature-this-summer/)

Go outside. Get dirty. Play with bugs. It sounds a lot like a MMM blog post actually. Very "circle of influence".

Contrary to what these folks seem to believe, "news media" is not some monolith that you should expect to spoonfeed you relevant and helpful data with little or no effort on your part. You gotta do a little more work. You have to curate your news feed, read and remember good journalists, read past the headlines, etc. If you just scroll twitter and see screen grabs of cable news and say, "OMG Look what garbage they're peddling on CNN/Fox News", then you're part of the problem IMO.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Buffaloski Boris on July 07, 2020, 02:13:17 PM
I can't speak to his actual view obviously, but I interpreted the tweet somewhat differently.
"So why are we wasting our time arguing about who is wearing masks?"
We can and should wear masks ourselves, but arguing about other people wearing them is unlikely to make any difference and is a waste of time. If you want to advocate for policies on masks, speak to your own family or friends, and wear one yourself, more power to you. But having discussions on the internet about other people's behaviour is totally useless and counterproductive.
Of course arguing about other peopleís behavior is useless and counterproductive as itís completely outside our scope of control. But isnít that the point of most political discourse? Wanting to think weíre in control of that which we arenít while ignoring that which we are?

As for masks, I donít think it makes a huge difference. But Iíll wear them properly and encourage others to do the same. And thatís pretty much my scope of control.

Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mathlete on July 07, 2020, 02:14:32 PM
Of course arguing about other peopleís behavior is useless and counterproductive as itís completely outside our scope of control. But isnít that the point of most political discourse? Wanting to think weíre in control of that which we arenít while ignoring that which we are?

As for masks, I donít think it makes a huge difference. But Iíll wear them properly and encourage others to do the same. And thatís pretty much my scope of control.

This kind of flies in the face of hundreds of years of advocacy and activism. Things don't just magically improve on their own.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Laura33 on July 07, 2020, 02:35:45 PM
As for masks, I donít think it makes a huge difference. But Iíll wear them properly and encourage others to do the same. And thatís pretty much my scope of control.

FWIW: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)31142-9/fulltext

One of the things I read (which must be true, since I read it on the internet) is the multiplier value of the various protective methods.  If 6' distancing and reduces risks by 80%, that's great.  But if wearing a mask reduces your risk by another 80%, now you're up to around a 95% risk reduction -- and then if both of you wear a mask, now you're at 99%.  Obviously these are made-up numbers (although the article I read purported to have "real" numbers for each action).  But it illustrates why the argument shouldn't be about whether one specific thing is going to solve all of our problems, and why collective action is so critical to getting this under control.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mm1970 on July 07, 2020, 03:06:43 PM
As for masks, I donít think it makes a huge difference. But Iíll wear them properly and encourage others to do the same. And thatís pretty much my scope of control.

FWIW: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)31142-9/fulltext

One of the things I read (which must be true, since I read it on the internet) is the multiplier value of the various protective methods.  If 6' distancing and reduces risks by 80%, that's great.  But if wearing a mask reduces your risk by another 80%, now you're up to around a 95% risk reduction -- and then if both of you wear a mask, now you're at 99%.  Obviously these are made-up numbers (although the article I read purported to have "real" numbers for each action).  But it illustrates why the argument shouldn't be about whether one specific thing is going to solve all of our problems, and why collective action is so critical to getting this under control.
Yep.  Plus I like this page.  Explains some of the data and reasoning.

https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2020/06/417906/still-confused-about-masks-heres-science-behind-how-face-masks-prevent
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: TempusFugit on July 07, 2020, 05:10:49 PM
For me, it's about choice. It's easy to say you're not interested in retiring early now. Who knows how you will feel in 5 or 10 years.

+100

I do not know when/if I will end up retiring early. But being FI will almost assuredly have positive benefits on my career and lifestyle and so we aggressively save.

Maybe that means we retire early, maybe not. But... it's certainly a lot better to hate your job with a million in savings and significant FU money than it is to have $0.


Absolutely.  I may work 5 or 10 more years (or more) but i will sure enjoy having the knowledge that no one has financial power over me.  I mean, the world financial system could collapse i suppose, but then weíre all screwed anyway. 

Jobs are less stressful when you know you can just walk away.  Its about options options options.  If i get fired (the bad kind) tomorrow, i don't really have to worry about  how Iím going to pay my bills and that kind of security is priceless.   
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: big_owl on July 07, 2020, 05:20:16 PM
Ugh, IDK, the more I read and understand about MMM the less I respect him.  He's spent years "facepunching" me for any multitude of reasons yet he has a failed marriage, smokes dope, takes an assinine risk in not having health insurance, and he COMPLETELY bared his ass on covid and wound up totally wrong. 

The older I get the more humble I get.  I still make stupid posts that I later regret.  Of course I'm not an internet personality so the stakes aren't as high.  And yes I'd suck it up and get pics taken with my fans if I had any.

But basically I'm sort of coming to terms with the idea that MMM is more a product of an ever-increasing market vs. skill.  And he's had such extreme privilege it's hard to take him seriously anymore. 

I will give him credit for opening my eyes to the possibility of retiring way early.  But that's about it anymore.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Buffaloski Boris on July 07, 2020, 05:34:51 PM
Of course arguing about other peopleís behavior is useless and counterproductive as itís completely outside our scope of control. But isnít that the point of most political discourse? Wanting to think weíre in control of that which we arenít while ignoring that which we are?

As for masks, I donít think it makes a huge difference. But Iíll wear them properly and encourage others to do the same. And thatís pretty much my scope of control.

This kind of flies in the face of hundreds of years of advocacy and activism. Things don't just magically improve on their own.

Of course things donít change on their own. The Powers That Be often decide that a course of action is no longer tenable or profitable. And every now and then, some smart people do something creative outside the realm of politics that changes behavior.

So what have those hundreds of years of advocacy and activism actually produced as compared to the resources expended? It may have missed my notice, but it looks to me like class inequality is greater than ever, not many people (current company excepted) have any real economic security, and if you get unlucky and get sick youíre still pretty much screwed. Results matter, and the results of political advocacy and activism in the US have been grim indeed.

But letís reel it back and talk about masks. So advocacy and activism and politics is going to persuade people to socially distance and properly wear a mask? Are we saying that if we vote for the ďcorrectĒ political leaders theyíre going to somehow persuade people to wear a mask because every epidemiologist and doctor and media talking head hasnít been able to persuade them of that to date?

Or maybe we could try to be smart and go outside the realm of politics and try something different. Maybe we could exercise some personal leadership and just talk to people and thank them for caring enough about other people to wear a mask. A simple thank you works. Or if we want to really push the limits, we could just hand out $10 bills as an instant reward. No politics or advocacy or activism needed. Just a willingness to think out of the box and do something different.

Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: American GenX on July 07, 2020, 05:46:25 PM

I don't know much about MMM's approach.  I didn't find the few blog articles I read or skimmed through very interesting or to my liking.  I've been in the business of saving, investing, and being frugal many years before I ever heard of MMM, so I guess that I didn't have much to learn.  I just come here for the forum - more for interesting discussion and picking up some tips.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mm1970 on July 07, 2020, 08:22:12 PM
I had to go read the tweets after the earlier posts.  All I can say is:  holy shit.  Why do "waste our time" worrying about masks?  Really?  Uhhhhh, how about because wearing masks and taking care of ourselves in other ways (salads/bikes/barbells) ARE NOT FUCKING MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE. 

It's like saying "why worry about seatbelts when you drive?  You'll reduce your risks of car crashes much more by driving less and biking more."  Entirely true!  And yet you still put on your fucking seatbelt when you DO drive, because now matter how much you reduce your overall risks by driving less, that means jack squat when you ARE driving.

For a smart guy, he can be really, really stupid about things that don't fit his master-of-the-universe worldview.
JFC I am right now very glad that I don't twitter.  I just cannot with this.

Eat well, exercise, wear a FUCKING MASK so my 76 year old mother in law doesn't die, asshole.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mm1970 on July 07, 2020, 08:25:15 PM
There's also this comment:
Quote
Masks are great way to care for others in the current era.

But choosing not to drive a car - especially in cities - is also a really big one in all times as well.
Maybe he's behind the curve on current events.  Bicycles are sold out everywhere...including children's bikes.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mm1970 on July 07, 2020, 08:28:17 PM
Of course arguing about other peopleís behavior is useless and counterproductive as itís completely outside our scope of control. But isnít that the point of most political discourse? Wanting to think weíre in control of that which we arenít while ignoring that which we are?

As for masks, I donít think it makes a huge difference. But Iíll wear them properly and encourage others to do the same. And thatís pretty much my scope of control.

This kind of flies in the face of hundreds of years of advocacy and activism. Things don't just magically improve on their own.
Right?  I mean, the basic local complaints about people not wearing masks resulted in county wide requirements to wear masks everywhere, except when exercising outdoors.

Thus, over the last 2 weeks, I've seen mask wearing compliance go way way up.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Trudie on July 07, 2020, 09:35:45 PM
MMM wrote in an entertaining way that got me to read.  It made me consider what might be possible, motivated me to save, and that changed my life.  But Iím not really interested in what he has to say anymore, and thatís okay.  I learn from the forums.  I donít overthink it.  I use what I want, then discard the rest.   Heís an interesting guy, but ó despite jokes to the contraryó this isnít a cult.  Heís not our leader.  I have no interest in ferreting out the ďtrue believersĒ and try not to get wrapped up in the cult of personality. 

Itís good to be skeptical of everything we read, so a bit of critique is okay.  I already offered mine earlier.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Dicey on July 07, 2020, 10:45:33 PM
MMM wrote in an entertaining way that got me to read.  It made me consider what might be possible, motivated me to save, and that changed my life.  But Iím not really interested in what he has to say anymore, and thatís okay.  I learn from the forums.  I donít overthink it.  I use what I want, then discard the rest.   Heís an interesting guy, but ó despite jokes to the contraryó this isnít a cult.  Heís not our leader.  I have no interest in ferreting out the ďtrue believersĒ and try not to get wrapped up in the cult of personality. 

Itís good to be skeptical of everything we read, so a bit of critique is okay.  I already offered mine earlier.
Love this comment!
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: EscapeVelocity2020 on July 07, 2020, 11:19:11 PM
I wonder what has happened to MMM since the pandemic really hit?  I think the FIRE world could use a bit of his optimism gun these days.  His early days of romanticizing the FIRE life were pretty good (I especially liked everything up to around here (https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/12/09/soldier-of-luxury/), then he sorta floundered.  Posts toward late 2014 and onward were more generally about how you can now ignore money and focus on happiness (like this (https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2014/05/29/give-yourself-the-gift-of-not-worrying-about-money/) and this (https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2014/06/19/j-d-roth-how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-mustachianism/)).  Scattered in were some infamous ones like https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2018/05/15/a-day-in-the-life-of-my-supposedly-frugal-stomach/ and https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2015/09/07/great-news-dog-ownership-is-optional/ where I disagreed, but still enjoyed, but it has steadily been downhill ever since. 

I just selfishly wish, with as much as the world seems to have changed, that he would pop back up and drop some wisdom or optimism about how great life is or will be soon.  The FIRE world needs it's MMM superhero more than ever... 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mathlete on July 08, 2020, 09:24:57 AM
Of course things donít change on their own. The Powers That Be often decide that a course of action is no longer tenable or profitable. And every now and then, some smart people do something creative outside the realm of politics that changes behavior.

The Powers that Be decide what is profitable by taking the temperature of their consumers. Google Pew Research's tracking poll for public support of gay marriage, and then plot on top of it the things that politicians and companies do. In the 90s, gay marriage was unpopular and companies brisked at doing things that supported it. Many even lobbied against it. Gay marriage grew in popularity to the point where a president could run on support for it in 2012. It was legalized in 2015. In 2016, gay marriage wasn't even a topic of conversation in the election. Public support for it is now 2-1 in favor. People accept it as a fact of life. Companies fall all over themselves to support (and of course, profit from) pride. This is how it works.

So what have those hundreds of years of advocacy and activism actually produced as compared to the resources expended? It may have missed my notice, but it looks to me like class inequality is greater than ever, not many people (current company excepted) have any real economic security, and if you get unlucky and get sick youíre still pretty much screwed. Results matter, and the results of political advocacy and activism in the US have been grim indeed.

A lot. We used to own human beings as property in the US, so economic inequality is at least a little bit better now than it was when we stole the work product of slaves. Income and wealth inequality is growing because we live under a system where capital begets more capital. But we can (and should IMO) advocate for changes in that.

Regarding getting sick, the situation is bad in the US. But 20 years ago, healthcare was a discussion over "personal responsibility". The ACA was imperfect, but it extended coverage to over ten million people. We now have an open enrollment period and you can't be denied coverage based on pre-existing conditions. It is now political suicide to get rid of that. And we tried unsuccessfully, to get rid of a lot of ACA in 2018. But we couldn't do it because public support for it was too high.

The state of US healthcare, as well as the discussion around healthcare, is unequivocally better in the US than it was 15 years ago. It's not even close. We have a lot of work to do. And advocacy is going to be a big part of it.

But letís reel it back and talk about masks. So advocacy and activism and politics is going to persuade people to socially distance and properly wear a mask?

Yes.

Are we saying that if we vote for the ďcorrectĒ political leaders theyíre going to somehow persuade people to wear a mask because every epidemiologist and doctor and media talking head hasnít been able to persuade them of that to date?

Advocacy and activism isn't all about voting.

Or maybe we could try to be smart and go outside the realm of politics and try something different. Maybe we could exercise some personal leadership and just talk to people and thank them for caring enough about other people to wear a mask. A simple thank you works. Or if we want to really push the limits, we could just hand out $10 bills as an instant reward. No politics or advocacy or activism needed. Just a willingness to think out of the box and do something different.

The bold is textbook advocacy and activism.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mathlete on July 08, 2020, 09:34:01 AM
MMM wrote in an entertaining way that got me to read.  It made me consider what might be possible, motivated me to save, and that changed my life.  But I’m not really interested in what he has to say anymore, and that’s okay.  I learn from the forums.  I don’t overthink it.  I use what I want, then discard the rest.   He’s an interesting guy, but — despite jokes to the contrary— this isn’t a cult.  He’s not our leader.  I have no interest in ferreting out the “true believers” and try not to get wrapped up in the cult of personality. 

It’s good to be skeptical of everything we read, so a bit of critique is okay.  I already offered mine earlier.
Love this comment!

+1

Trudie is spot on. MMM is probably a little too rich/famous/disconnected now for much of what he talks about to have relevance to my life. But the guy did a whole hell of a lot to advance the art and science of personal finance. And I love that he advocates for environmentalism. There's so much going on in 2020, that it's easy to forget that climate change is still very much a thing.

Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Goldielocks on July 08, 2020, 11:11:54 AM
MMM wrote in an entertaining way that got me to read.  It made me consider what might be possible, motivated me to save, and that changed my life.  But Iím not really interested in what he has to say anymore, and thatís okay.  I learn from the forums.  I donít overthink it.  I use what I want, then discard the rest.   Heís an interesting guy, but ó despite jokes to the contraryó this isnít a cult.  Heís not our leader.  I have no interest in ferreting out the ďtrue believersĒ and try not to get wrapped up in the cult of personality. 

Itís good to be skeptical of everything we read, so a bit of critique is okay.  I already offered mine earlier.

This is a great comment.

Before MMM, I was about to give up on adding to retirement funds (above my employer match)because I would make MORE money retired than I did as a family of 4 with young kids.  I was facing a prospect of working jobs I did not like for decades, life was a grind, and wanted to spend money to have good experiences today.

Then I read MMM and realized that EARLY RETIREMENT was a thing.  I could pull money out of my retirement accounts BEFORE official retirement age.  Mind Blown.   If I was FI, I could have the freedom to switch jobs to something that paid less.   "Shockingly Simple Math" was the final motivator to own my life choices.https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/01/13/the-shockingly-simple-math-behind-early-retirement/ (https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/01/13/the-shockingly-simple-math-behind-early-retirement/)

MMM's writing showed me that the handcuffs to my work and my debt were of my own making, and imaginary.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: EscapeVelocity2020 on July 08, 2020, 11:55:51 AM
....
Then I read MMM and realized that EARLY RETIREMENT was a thing.  I could pull money out of my retirement accounts BEFORE official retirement age.  Mind Blown.   If I was FI, I could have the freedom to switch jobs to something that paid less.   "Shockingly Simple Math" was the final motivator to own my life choices.
...

I've known many unemployed or underemployed folks that pull money out of 401k's (all the way down to zero in many cases) before their 60's!  It's really not that hard.  I'm guessing you are referring to the Roth ladder or SEPP...
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Dicey on July 08, 2020, 12:49:47 PM
....
Then I read MMM and realized that EARLY RETIREMENT was a thing.  I could pull money out of my retirement accounts BEFORE official retirement age.  Mind Blown.   If I was FI, I could have the freedom to switch jobs to something that paid less.   "Shockingly Simple Math" was the final motivator to own my life choices.
...

I've known many unemployed or underemployed folks that pull money out of 401k's (all the way down to zero in many cases) before their 60's!  It's really not that hard.  I'm guessing you are referring to the Roth ladder or SEPP...
I think they mean pulling money out without penalty.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: EscapeVelocity2020 on July 08, 2020, 01:20:02 PM
....
Then I read MMM and realized that EARLY RETIREMENT was a thing.  I could pull money out of my retirement accounts BEFORE official retirement age.  Mind Blown.   If I was FI, I could have the freedom to switch jobs to something that paid less.   "Shockingly Simple Math" was the final motivator to own my life choices.
...

I've known many unemployed or underemployed folks that pull money out of 401k's (all the way down to zero in many cases) before their 60's!  It's really not that hard.  I'm guessing you are referring to the Roth ladder or SEPP...
I think they mean pulling money out without penalty.
It's hard to tell with Mustachians though - we are more likely to actually believe that the money is 100% 'off limits' until 65. 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: lv2glrfy on July 08, 2020, 03:15:43 PM
As others have mentioned, there are many paths to FIRE, and we're all perfectly within our rights to take the path we think is the best for us. MMM writes about what he knows, and that's fine. But I think one area where I disagree with MMM is his weighing expense reduction as far more important than income increase.

His blog has the specific angle of expense reduction because, as he's admitted, he started from a position of privilege: a $66k starting salary in today's dollars at age 22 for a brand-new bachelor's degree holder is unthinkable to me and virtually everyone I've ever known. Nobody told me at age 16 when I was starting college that the degree and field I choose--if not course-corrected at some point--would quite literally dictate the direction and quality of my working life for the next many decades. Also, he got a 39% raise in his first year of work and continued earning steadily more nearly every year after? I've never heard of more than a 2% routine raise...again, that kind of good fortune in one's day job is unthinkable to me.

For the reasons above and many others, I think many middle- and lower-income folks would benefit from a more balanced approach that dispenses tips for both reducing their expenses and increasing their income (while not succumbing to lifestyle inflation). I've benefitted so much from tips on other FIRE blogs for using the gig economy, continued education, real estate, and other amazing resources to try and set myself up for better earning in the present and future. I'm privileged enough to still have many ways to reduce my expenses, but plenty of people aren't in the same boat...especially if they have a large family, chronic health issues, or are socioeconomically disadvantaged.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Goldielocks on July 08, 2020, 04:04:24 PM
....
Then I read MMM and realized that EARLY RETIREMENT was a thing.  I could pull money out of my retirement accounts BEFORE official retirement age.  Mind Blown.   If I was FI, I could have the freedom to switch jobs to something that paid less.   "Shockingly Simple Math" was the final motivator to own my life choices.
...

I've known many unemployed or underemployed folks that pull money out of 401k's (all the way down to zero in many cases) before their 60's!  It's really not that hard.  I'm guessing you are referring to the Roth ladder or SEPP...

Actually, I am in Canada, so I am talking about the RRSP and any savings I mentally marked "Retirement".  There is no penalty / restriction here, (unless the money came from a pension fund).
I always knew we could pull out money, penalty free at any time, or use it to buy a first home, pay for school, but I had always put a mental lock on it, as it was for "65+" years ONLY.  "The money to NEVER be touched".

Reading MMM I realized that extra savings could be used for early retirement, or other goals, that the mental lock down on my accounts / long term savings could be used for something other than classical retirement. 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Dicey on July 08, 2020, 08:53:21 PM
....
Then I read MMM and realized that EARLY RETIREMENT was a thing.  I could pull money out of my retirement accounts BEFORE official retirement age.  Mind Blown.   If I was FI, I could have the freedom to switch jobs to something that paid less.   "Shockingly Simple Math" was the final motivator to own my life choices.
...

I've known many unemployed or underemployed folks that pull money out of 401k's (all the way down to zero in many cases) before their 60's!  It's really not that hard.  I'm guessing you are referring to the Roth ladder or SEPP...

Actually, I am in Canada, so I am talking about the RRSP and any savings I mentally marked "Retirement".  There is no penalty / restriction here, (unless the money came from a pension fund).
I always knew we could pull out money, penalty free at any time, or use it to buy a first home, pay for school, but I had always put a mental lock on it, as it was for "65+" years ONLY.  "The money to NEVER be touched".

Reading MMM I realized that extra savings could be used for early retirement, or other goals, that the mental lock down on my accounts / long term savings could be used for something other than classical retirement.
...and thus she bought her life back and is living happily ever after.

@Goldielocks, I totally forgot that you are Canadian ;-)
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: EscapeVelocity2020 on July 08, 2020, 09:51:57 PM
....
Then I read MMM and realized that EARLY RETIREMENT was a thing.  I could pull money out of my retirement accounts BEFORE official retirement age.  Mind Blown.   If I was FI, I could have the freedom to switch jobs to something that paid less.   "Shockingly Simple Math" was the final motivator to own my life choices.
...

I've known many unemployed or underemployed folks that pull money out of 401k's (all the way down to zero in many cases) before their 60's!  It's really not that hard.  I'm guessing you are referring to the Roth ladder or SEPP...

Actually, I am in Canada, so I am talking about the RRSP and any savings I mentally marked "Retirement".  There is no penalty / restriction here, (unless the money came from a pension fund).
I always knew we could pull out money, penalty free at any time, or use it to buy a first home, pay for school, but I had always put a mental lock on it, as it was for "65+" years ONLY.  "The money to NEVER be touched".

Reading MMM I realized that extra savings could be used for early retirement, or other goals, that the mental lock down on my accounts / long term savings could be used for something other than classical retirement.
...and thus she bought her life back and is living happily ever after.

@Goldielocks, I totally forgot that you are Canadian ;-)

Oh, you were talking about Loonies... that says it all eh (;
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Goldielocks on July 08, 2020, 09:59:51 PM
....
Then I read MMM and realized that EARLY RETIREMENT was a thing.  I could pull money out of my retirement accounts BEFORE official retirement age.  Mind Blown.   If I was FI, I could have the freedom to switch jobs to something that paid less.   "Shockingly Simple Math" was the final motivator to own my life choices.
...

I've known many unemployed or underemployed folks that pull money out of 401k's (all the way down to zero in many cases) before their 60's!  It's really not that hard.  I'm guessing you are referring to the Roth ladder or SEPP...

Actually, I am in Canada, so I am talking about the RRSP and any savings I mentally marked "Retirement".  There is no penalty / restriction here, (unless the money came from a pension fund).
I always knew we could pull out money, penalty free at any time, or use it to buy a first home, pay for school, but I had always put a mental lock on it, as it was for "65+" years ONLY.  "The money to NEVER be touched".

Reading MMM I realized that extra savings could be used for early retirement, or other goals, that the mental lock down on my accounts / long term savings could be used for something other than classical retirement.
...and thus she bought her life back and is living happily ever after.

@Goldielocks, I totally forgot that you are Canadian ;-)
Well I lived in California for 3 years about 10 years ago (SFO area).  And lived in Norway for a short bit, too.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: MaybeBecca on July 09, 2020, 06:17:19 AM

I don't totally agree with his stance on not giving his kids wealth so they can earn their own way.

I  am in firm disagreement  with anyone who holds this view of a parent's or parents' legacy for their children.

My unvarnished opinion is that a parent or parents who enjoyed an easy life ought to ensure that  their legacy provides the same for their beloved children.

I reject the proposition that a meager legacy, that requires one's children to work instead of an abundant  legacy that does not,  is ipso facto,  superior and more beneficial for the children.
...If you want your children to have advantages it's a lot better to gift them good genes (insofar as you have some control over that) ...

At least in the US, this has become kind of a dog whistle for racist ideologies [see Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, and the "intellectual Dark Web" (or honestly, preferably, don't)].  Basically people claim that the reason that BIPOC are not as successful as white people is because of genetic differences and "culture", rather than the hundreds of years of BIPOC oppression and white favoritism in the states.  It's somewhat beside your point, as I'm not assuming that's what you meant, but thought you might want to be aware of that.  I do agree to some degree, more so because of health problems with a genetic component, for which I am choosing not to have children (also, will our planet remain livable to humans in their lifetime?  I'm not so sure).  I think a lot of other factors - intelligence, charisma, strength - have more of a basis in nurture than people sometimes assume.  As you said, if you have a stable environment as a child, that really gives you an upper hand.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: ericrugiero on July 09, 2020, 02:31:38 PM
At least in the US, this has become kind of a dog whistle for racist ideologies [see Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, and the "intellectual Dark Web" (or honestly, preferably, don't)].  Basically people claim that the reason that BIPOC are not as successful as white people is because of genetic differences and "culture", rather than the hundreds of years of BIPOC oppression and white favoritism in the states.  It's somewhat beside your point, as I'm not assuming that's what you meant, but thought you might want to be aware of that.  I do agree to some degree, more so because of health problems with a genetic component, for which I am choosing not to have children (also, will our planet remain livable to humans in their lifetime?  I'm not so sure).  I think a lot of other factors - intelligence, charisma, strength - have more of a basis in nurture than people sometimes assume.  As you said, if you have a stable environment as a child, that really gives you an upper hand.

Yes, a stable environment as a child absolutely gives you an upper hand.  In fact, we as a society tend to underrate that component.  I personally have had a lot of privilege in my life.  I'm a white male which definitely has it's advantages.  I was also raised in a home with a mother and father who loved each other.  My parents gave me a good education, taught me to work, taught me to learn, taught me to interact well with others, taught me the value of a useful college degree, kept me out of trouble, made me believe I could succeed, and tons of other valuable life lessons.  Both my genetic advantages (white male) and cultural advantages (parental teaching and modeling) have helped me.  I would argue that the second one was more important but that's obviously tough to prove. 

I would never say that one race of people are genetically more intelligent than another.  I've known some black people who were extremely intelligent and some on the other end of the spectrum.  I know one black family in particular that really struggles in this area.  They also happen to eat the least nutritious food of any family I know.  Nutrition has an underrated impact on brain function.  Kids especially need the right vitamins and minerals for their brains to develop.  There is probably a difference in test scores between black and white kids.  If so, it's almost certainly due to differences in school quality, support from parents (and others), nutrition and probably some other factors. 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mm1970 on July 09, 2020, 02:42:58 PM
Quote
I would never say that one race of people are genetically more intelligent than another.  I've known some black people who were extremely intelligent and some on the other end of the spectrum.  I know one black family in particular that really struggles in this area.  They also happen to eat the least nutritious food of any family I know.  Nutrition has an underrated impact on brain function.  Kids especially need the right vitamins and minerals for their brains to develop.  There is probably a difference in test scores between black and white kids.  If so, it's almost certainly due to differences in school quality, support from parents (and others), nutrition and probably some other factors.

It's poverty.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: MudPuppy on July 09, 2020, 03:23:24 PM
@mm1970 this this this. There is extensive research on poverty and access to good nutrition and the psychology of poverty. (Ie people experiencing poverty or other chronic stress make choices that are easier short term and not strictly more efficient)
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Psychstache on July 09, 2020, 04:11:56 PM
Quote
I would never say that one race of people are genetically more intelligent than another.  I've known some black people who were extremely intelligent and some on the other end of the spectrum.  I know one black family in particular that really struggles in this area.  They also happen to eat the least nutritious food of any family I know.  Nutrition has an underrated impact on brain function.  Kids especially need the right vitamins and minerals for their brains to develop.  There is probably a difference in test scores between black and white kids.  If so, it's almost certainly due to differences in school quality, support from parents (and others), nutrition and probably some other factors.

It's poverty.

Right. Plus, poverty is the common denominator to all of the other factors outlined.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: jeninco on July 09, 2020, 05:17:56 PM
Quote
I would never say that one race of people are genetically more intelligent than another.  I've known some black people who were extremely intelligent and some on the other end of the spectrum.  I know one black family in particular that really struggles in this area.  They also happen to eat the least nutritious food of any family I know.  Nutrition has an underrated impact on brain function.  Kids especially need the right vitamins and minerals for their brains to develop.  There is probably a difference in test scores between black and white kids.  If so, it's almost certainly due to differences in school quality, support from parents (and others), nutrition and probably some other factors.

It's poverty.

Right. Plus, poverty is the common denominator to all of the other factors outlined.

Including, alas, easily measurable things like exposure to air pollution and lead poisoning.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: ericrugiero on July 10, 2020, 07:23:58 AM
Quote
I would never say that one race of people are genetically more intelligent than another.  I've known some black people who were extremely intelligent and some on the other end of the spectrum.  I know one black family in particular that really struggles in this area.  They also happen to eat the least nutritious food of any family I know.  Nutrition has an underrated impact on brain function.  Kids especially need the right vitamins and minerals for their brains to develop.  There is probably a difference in test scores between black and white kids.  If so, it's almost certainly due to differences in school quality, support from parents (and others), nutrition and probably some other factors.

It's poverty.

The family that I'm talking about probably spends more on their food (primarily coca cola and ground beef-no vegetables) than many of the families on this forum who eat much healthier.  The problem is, neither of them was taught how to shop, cook, or eat healthy.  It's less of an actual money issue (in their case) than a knowledge and desire issue.  But, you are right that all of these issues are much more common with poverty. 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mathlete on July 10, 2020, 07:31:43 AM
@mm1970 this this this. There is extensive research on poverty and access to good nutrition and the psychology of poverty. (Ie people experiencing poverty or other chronic stress make choices that are easier short term and not strictly more efficient)

 https://www.npr.org/2017/03/23/521195903/how-the-scarcity-mindset-can-make-problems-worse (https://www.npr.org/2017/03/23/521195903/how-the-scarcity-mindset-can-make-problems-worse)

Good NPR story about this.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: joe189man on July 10, 2020, 08:56:55 AM
Seems like we got off topic for a bunch of the above posts,

I love the idea of FIRE that MMM and many others discuss, but it often has a suffering through it component (extreme frugality) to get to your magical number of ~25x annual expenses.

I dont want to live an extremely frugal life just so i can retire and continue to live extremely frugally albeit just not working.

i would like to see or read more about folks who have designed their lives in such a way as to enjoy most aspects of it, not suffering through 10 years of being a computer programmer then becoming a part time carpenter/writer because that's where their passions lie. i think about what my perfect day would look like or my designed life all the time, even at 80 years old i want ~4 hours a day of some sort of work, to contribute, to help others, to pass on what i have learned

i guess if i were going to "start a cult" (MMM words) it would focus on how to design your life so you wanted to live it, not save every penny you could to escape it

Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on July 10, 2020, 09:27:19 AM
Seems like we got off topic for a bunch of the above posts,

I love the idea of FIRE that MMM and many others discuss, but it often has a suffering through it component (extreme frugality) to get to your magical number of ~25x annual expenses.

I dont want to live an extremely frugal life just so i can retire and continue to live extremely frugally albeit just not working.

i would like to see or read more about folks who have designed their lives in such a way as to enjoy most aspects of it, not suffering through 10 years of being a computer programmer then becoming a part time carpenter/writer because that's where their passions lie. i think about what my perfect day would look like or my designed life all the time, even at 80 years old i want ~4 hours a day of some sort of work, to contribute, to help others, to pass on what i have learned

i guess if i were going to "start a cult" (MMM words) it would focus on how to design your life so you wanted to live it, not save every penny you could to escape it

This idea that MMM is about 'extreme frugality' is one myth that apparently will not die.  Pete even wrote several blog posts about it, including this one:
https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2014/11/23/not-extreme-frugality/ (https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2014/11/23/not-extreme-frugality/)

Along those lines, if you are so focused on saving every penny that you aren't happy you've missed the underlying principle.  Even Pete describes his family's lives as an exploding volcano of excess. By avoiding the frivilous spending which characterizes most consumer spending and isntead focusing on spending money where it adds value, a person can quickly have a firehose of excess cash each month, which - when plowed into savings - gives you incredible freedom.  As for working after hitting your 'FI number' - that's also acceptable, and Pete coined the term SWAMI (https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/04/30/weekend-edition-retire-in-your-mind-even-if-you-love-your-job/) (Satisfied Working Advanced Mustachian Individual ) for it.  This isn't about slaving away at a job you hate just to exit as soon as possible (heck, even Pete enjoyed most of his working career).

Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: LWYRUP on July 10, 2020, 10:45:36 AM
@mm1970 this this this. There is extensive research on poverty and access to good nutrition and the psychology of poverty. (Ie people experiencing poverty or other chronic stress make choices that are easier short term and not strictly more efficient)

This is an interesting discussion.  I remember watching "Super Size Me" and there was a point in the film where a lower income (white) lady was talking about her struggles with diet and said basically that her family was obese because they did not have the money to eat at Subway every day like Jared.

It struck me that for a large number of people in our country, a lot of their home economics training is... advertising.  Which explains a lot about why our per capita income (very high even relative to other rich countries) and our quality of life (lots of extensive social problems not typical of rich countries) seem so misaligned. 

I am a firm believer that we need a national, updated non-gendered "life skills" type class.  Not just picking between making a wooden spice rack or baking a pie, but something where teachers lay down the cold hard truths to high schoolers on issues like debt, nutrition, substance abuse, etc. 

In fact, one of my very favorite things about this forum is that at its best it is like basically navy-seal level "life skills" training.  But a lot of people don't even have the basics. 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: LWYRUP on July 10, 2020, 11:02:57 AM
i would like to see or read more about folks who have designed their lives in such a way as to enjoy most aspects of it, not suffering through 10 years of being a computer programmer then becoming a part time carpenter/writer because that's where their passions lie. i think about what my perfect day would look like or my designed life all the time, even at 80 years old i want ~4 hours a day of some sort of work, to contribute, to help others, to pass on what i have learned

i guess if i were going to "start a cult" (MMM words) it would focus on how to design your life so you wanted to live it, not save every penny you could to escape it

I think what you are talking about is basically "self-actualization."

For me, this forum is only tangentially about finances, and the part that is about finances is only tangentially about FIRE.  It's about self-actualization. 

However, I personally find having an extremely health financial base is something that helps me with that process.  It reduces the importance of a huge zone of concern and has given me flexibility to allow myself to take a job that pays less but that I mostly enjoy rather than jobs that paid a lot but that I mostly did not enjoy.  At some point, I hope will will give me the complete flexibility to just allocate my time without regard to money entirely, solely based on self-actualization (which for me does include feeling useful and helping others and probably earning somethings anyways, but just more as the icing on the cake). 

However, there are always trade-offs in life, such as spending now vs. reaching FIRE earlier. 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: DadJokes on July 10, 2020, 11:12:39 AM
I am a firm believer that we need a national, updated non-gendered "life skills" type class.  Not just picking between making a wooden spice rack or baking a pie, but something where teachers lay down the cold hard truths to high schoolers on issues like debt, nutrition, substance abuse, etc. 

In fact, one of my very favorite things about this forum is that at its best it is like basically navy-seal level "life skills" training.  But a lot of people don't even have the basics.

One of my FIREd life ideas is to try teaching high school personal finance, though that could be expanded to a life skills class as well.

It'd be a fun way to give back.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: OtherJen on July 10, 2020, 11:19:49 AM
I am a firm believer that we need a national, updated non-gendered "life skills" type class.  Not just picking between making a wooden spice rack or baking a pie, but something where teachers lay down the cold hard truths to high schoolers on issues like debt, nutrition, substance abuse, etc. 

In fact, one of my very favorite things about this forum is that at its best it is like basically navy-seal level "life skills" training.  But a lot of people don't even have the basics.

Yes, absolutely! How to make a budget. How to save money. How to set up accounts and pay bills. How to make a doctor/dentist appointment and what does ďco-payĒ mean. How to eat a balanced diet and why itís cheaper and often faster to shop for groceries once a week and prep the food at home.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: dougules on July 10, 2020, 11:23:25 AM
Seems like we got off topic for a bunch of the above posts,

I love the idea of FIRE that MMM and many others discuss, but it often has a suffering through it component (extreme frugality) to get to your magical number of ~25x annual expenses.

I dont want to live an extremely frugal life just so i can retire and continue to live extremely frugally albeit just not working.

i would like to see or read more about folks who have designed their lives in such a way as to enjoy most aspects of it, not suffering through 10 years of being a computer programmer then becoming a part time carpenter/writer because that's where their passions lie. i think about what my perfect day would look like or my designed life all the time, even at 80 years old i want ~4 hours a day of some sort of work, to contribute, to help others, to pass on what i have learned

i guess if i were going to "start a cult" (MMM words) it would focus on how to design your life so you wanted to live it, not save every penny you could to escape it

This seems like total misconception.  He doesn't really focus on saving every penny, but is specifically saying that cutting out pointless spending has the effect of designing your life for more happiness. He even is constantly giving a never-ending stream of pointing out all the frivolous things he spends on like a fancy house in a developed country, a nice bicycle, health care, fancy food and drinks, etc.  A lot of people seem to have forgotten how much those are luxuries.  And if you have a paying career that you're fine working for the rest of your life, lucky you!  Just know that not everyone is so fortunate.  I just see a lot of people disagreeing with what they think he is saying when they don't realize they're agreeing with what he is actually saying.

That being said, I don't think many people are blind followers.  If anything I think the type of people that are inclined to listen to him are independent-minded or just straight-up contrarians.  His ideas are direct rejections of a lot of ideas ingrained into Western culture.  It takes somebody who is willing to, or just straight-up likes to not go with the flow.  That same mentality gets turned on what he puts out.  Look around.  Most people on here are ready and very willing to reject anything he says that they even slightly disagree with.  This thread is a perfect example in and of itself. 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: American GenX on July 10, 2020, 11:50:03 AM
I love the idea of FIRE that MMM and many others discuss, but it often has a suffering through it component (extreme frugality) to get to your magical number of ~25x annual expenses.

I dont want to live an extremely frugal life just so i can retire and continue to live extremely frugally albeit just not working.

i would like to see or read more about folks who have designed their lives in such a way as to enjoy most aspects of it, not suffering through 10 years of being a computer programmer then becoming a part time carpenter/writer because that's where their passions lie. i think about what my perfect day would look like or my designed life all the time, even at 80 years old i want ~4 hours a day of some sort of work, to contribute, to help others, to pass on what i have learned

i guess if i were going to "start a cult" (MMM words) it would focus on how to design your life so you wanted to live it, not save every penny you could to escape it
I haven't read much what MMM has posted but have read the feedback of many forum posters here and on other forums.  I don't think that many are going for extreme frugality.  I'm probably more frugal than most and still wouldn't say that I'm extreme by any stretch.  I probably wasted $1000 on discretionary spending last year, but it had no effect on my FIRE date plans as I'm saving far more than that.

Another thing is that you can enjoy life without having to spend a lot of money.  I wouldn't call that "suffering".

Also, I've never worked a job as a computer programmer, and I have no interest in working as a part time carpenter, and have no desire to work after I FIRE.  Maybe I will feel differently down the road, but I should be set so that it will never be necessary and so that I will have more than enough discretionary spending funds for my generally low cost needs for happiness.

No need to be too extreme.  Enjoy!
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: iris lily on July 10, 2020, 11:55:32 AM
i would like to see or read more about folks who have designed their lives in such a way as to enjoy most aspects of it, not suffering through 10 years of being a computer programmer then becoming a part time carpenter/writer because that's where their passions lie. i think about what my perfect day would look like or my designed life all the time, even at 80 years old i want ~4 hours a day of some sort of work, to contribute, to help others, to pass on what i have learned

i guess if i were going to "start a cult" (MMM words) it would focus on how to design your life so you wanted to live it, not save every penny you could to escape it

I think what you are talking about is basically "self-actualization."

For me, this forum is only tangentially about finances, and the part that is about finances is only tangentially about FIRE.  It's about self-actualization. 

However, I personally find having an extremely health financial base is something that helps me with that process.  It reduces the importance of a huge zone of concern and has given me flexibility to allow myself to take a job that pays less but that I mostly enjoy rather than jobs that paid a lot but that I mostly did not enjoy.  At some point, I hope will will give me the complete flexibility to just allocate my time without regard to money entirely, solely based on self-actualization (which for me does include feeling useful and helping others and probably earning somethings anyways, but just more as the icing on the cake). 

However, there are always trade-offs in life, such as spending now vs. reaching FIRE earlier.

Yes!

Iím so glad to hear someone talk about self actualization. That is the ultimate life goal.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mrs sideways on July 10, 2020, 06:28:28 PM
I don't check his Twitter feed often, but good lord, man:

July 1st: Why are cases in NYC plummeting and rising elsewhere? Maybe herd immunity, right?
Comments: Nope. Everyone wears a mask.
July 1st: Poll time! Is it herd immunity or masks?
Comments: Masks, everyone is wearing them and being careful.
July 7th: Why are we arguing about who wears a mask?
Me: (facepalm)
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Kyle Schuant on July 10, 2020, 08:45:37 PM
i would like to see or read more about folks who have designed their lives in such a way as to enjoy most aspects of it, not suffering through 10 years of being a computer programmer then becoming a part time carpenter/writer because that's where their passions lie
Well, instead of 10 years of 40hr pw of IT followed by 10yr of 0hr, he could just have done 20hr pw of IT forever for 20 years. Most jobs aren't too bad if you limit the hours.

I'm a trainer part-time (20hr pw) out of my garage (or was until the lockdown, followed by the opening, followed by another lockdown... we'll see what happens after this) which means I can also be a stay-at-home father. At 20hr pw, I love being a trainer. At 40hr pw I would not, and at 60hr pw I would hate it. Likewise being a stay-at-home father.

Of course, the person you're alluding to you ended up with a divorce, which suggests to me the approach isn't perfect - obviously there may be other factors, but we're just speaking generally anyway. There's another finance guy (doesn't focus on FIRE) Scott Pape, who talks about a "financial date night" once a month with your spouse - you sit down together over dinner and wine and discuss where you are financially and what you'd like to do. Regularly discussing things with your spouse is, to my mind, key to a successful relationship.

So whether your goal is FIRE or something else like what I've done, it's well to discuss it with friends and family. Before setting a course for the ship of your life, talk to the passengers and crew.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Zikoris on July 10, 2020, 09:14:39 PM
Of course, the person you're alluding to you ended up with a divorce, which suggests to me the approach isn't perfect - obviously there may be other factors, but we're just speaking generally anyway. There's another finance guy (doesn't focus on FIRE) Scott Pape, who talks about a "financial date night" once a month with your spouse - you sit down together over dinner and wine and discuss where you are financially and what you'd like to do. Regularly discussing things with your spouse is, to my mind, key to a successful relationship.

On a side note, what do people actually talk about at these meetings, like specifically? I've heard of this before and it's always really puzzled me. I think if me and my partner tried to do this it would last about 30 seconds.

"So, those automated finances sure are automating, and Mint says our spending remains within our historical norms. Still wanna retire in a couple of years?"
"Yuppers."
"Coolio."

I'm guessing most people must have more complicated financial lives than us?
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Kyle Schuant on July 10, 2020, 10:28:00 PM
On a side note, what do people actually talk about at these meetings, like specifically? I've heard of this before and it's always really puzzled me. I think if me and my partner tried to do this it would last about 30 seconds.
Sure, because you've got it fairly sorted. But lots of people don't. Thus all the credit card debt, people doing jobs they hate, and marriages breaking up. Remember the saying about people working jobs they hate to get money to buy things they need to impress people they don't like - that saying exists for a reason.

What I see a lot of is inertia - that a body moving at one speed in one direction continues moving that way unless acted on by an outside force. Many people slide straight from school to uni to credit card to marriage to mortgage to children without really sitting down and asking themselves or their spouse, "Is this what I really want? And after we do this thing, what then?" That's why women do the bulk of the child-rearing and household stuff, it's not outright sexism, it's momentum. Immediately after having a baby she's not really up for straight back to work most of the time, plus many of the women are breastfeeding, so they naturally do more of the child stuff, and then the child stuff also involves washing their clothes and dishes, while she's at it she does the other laundry and cleaning, and... before you know it the first child is seven years old, there's a second child of two, and she's running them around in the car to different activities and doing all the housework and resents her husband because he doesn't do anything around the house. Five years later there's a divorce.

Had they had regular conversations, "how many children do you want? when we have them, who will care for them?" and "once they're at school I'd like to open my own small business, but this will cost $X at least, we could take it from the offset account or...?" then things might have worked out for that couple. But it's easy to be so caught up in the day-to-day bullshit that you never have these conversations and just drift one way out of sheer inertia.

Usually you find that the first few times the conversations are pretty lengthy, as you establish your situation and goals. Then they settle down into a brief checkin, and the rest is a normal date night. Then maybe something changes a few years later and you have a few longer conversations again.

In my family, we don't have formal financial date nights, but we pretty regularly talk about these things. It's just a way to get people talking.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Zikoris on July 10, 2020, 11:05:16 PM
On a side note, what do people actually talk about at these meetings, like specifically? I've heard of this before and it's always really puzzled me. I think if me and my partner tried to do this it would last about 30 seconds.
Sure, because you've got it fairly sorted. But lots of people don't. Thus all the credit card debt, people doing jobs they hate, and marriages breaking up. Remember the saying about people working jobs they hate to get money to buy things they need to impress people they don't like - that saying exists for a reason.

What I see a lot of is inertia - that a body moving at one speed in one direction continues moving that way unless acted on by an outside force. Many people slide straight from school to uni to credit card to marriage to mortgage to children without really sitting down and asking themselves or their spouse, "Is this what I really want? And after we do this thing, what then?" That's why women do the bulk of the child-rearing and household stuff, it's not outright sexism, it's momentum. Immediately after having a baby she's not really up for straight back to work most of the time, plus many of the women are breastfeeding, so they naturally do more of the child stuff, and then the child stuff also involves washing their clothes and dishes, while she's at it she does the other laundry and cleaning, and... before you know it the first child is seven years old, there's a second child of two, and she's running them around in the car to different activities and doing all the housework and resents her husband because he doesn't do anything around the house. Five years later there's a divorce.

Had they had regular conversations, "how many children do you want? when we have them, who will care for them?" and "once they're at school I'd like to open my own small business, but this will cost $X at least, we could take it from the offset account or...?" then things might have worked out for that couple. But it's easy to be so caught up in the day-to-day bullshit that you never have these conversations and just drift one way out of sheer inertia.

Usually you find that the first few times the conversations are pretty lengthy, as you establish your situation and goals. Then they settle down into a brief checkin, and the rest is a normal date night. Then maybe something changes a few years later and you have a few longer conversations again.

In my family, we don't have formal financial date nights, but we pretty regularly talk about these things. It's just a way to get people talking.

That's really interesting. In my case inertia has never been a thing because everything about my lifestyle is so far outside the norm that there ISN'T a track to follow, so I basically have to make conscious decisions or everything would just crash and burn. I think my boyfriend had a bit of the inertia thing going when we first met (he was 21 and assumed his life would follow the normal LifeScript), but I pulled him out of that really fast.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Kyle Schuant on July 10, 2020, 11:33:29 PM
Well, that's it. At some point you have to think about and discuss things. If you do it early on then after that there's not much to say. It's like firing a rifle - a small deviation early on makes a big difference where the bullet will land, later on in its path it takes a lot to make it hit something else.

The guy who advises a financial date night also has some basic advice for bringing up your kids as financially aware for that very reason.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mspym on July 10, 2020, 11:48:33 PM
Scott Pape is very good at the relationship side and the actionable baby steps that will get most people to a healthy financial state if not the extreme FI level. And honestly, getting the joint vision of the future is the foundation. One of my favourite conversations with Ofpym was driving from NYC to Chicago working through what country we thought we would live in and how we would make each of them work.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: SotI on July 11, 2020, 02:25:56 AM
"So, those automated finances sure are automating, and Mint says our spending remains within our historical norms. Still wanna retire in a couple of years?"
"Yuppers."
"Coolio."

Sums it up for me, as well.
DH doesn't want to hear or even think of it.

I have found some people literally cannot mentally deal with "administrative" stuff (finances, tax, council stuff). It's a form of illiteracy akin to dyslexia. The brain of some ppl don't simply grasp the concept (and I have seen this in otherwise educated, intelligent people).

Education may help some, but I have an older sibling who had all those practical household management training at school. It left her with an understanding but also an utter dislike for any such topics that she "outsourced" them to professionals at the earliest opportunity.

Anything with either a banking, finance or IT label is a mental block item and it cost them too much energy just going near it. Education will not fix that.

I, myself, however, have always actively focused on such topics b/c I am fiercely independent by nature. Even so, I learned about FI(RE) quite late (and the bits I have been doing "right" have come from simple logic).

Anyhow, back on topic: MMM blog and forum pushed me to think my personal finance approach to higher ambition level and provided great pointers in terms of frugality/DIY that suits my family.
No disagreement there. Also Stoicism is a good basis.
On other topics (social, political matters)? I might disagree based on the fact that I often find them not so relevant for my part of the world (i.e. cycling or hiking is standard here, nothing particularly special to promote).


Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: iris lily on July 11, 2020, 10:53:19 AM
Of course, the person you're alluding to you ended up with a divorce, which suggests to me the approach isn't perfect - obviously there may be other factors, but we're just speaking generally anyway. There's another finance guy (doesn't focus on FIRE) Scott Pape, who talks about a "financial date night" once a month with your spouse - you sit down together over dinner and wine and discuss where you are financially and what you'd like to do. Regularly discussing things with your spouse is, to my mind, key to a successful relationship.

On a side note, what do people actually talk about at these meetings, like specifically? I've heard of this before and it's always really puzzled me. I think if me and my partner tried to do this it would last about 30 seconds.

"So, those automated finances sure are automating, and Mint says our spending remains within our historical norms. Still wanna retire in a couple of years?"
"Yuppers."
"Coolio."

I'm guessing most people must have more complicated financial lives than us?

This post just reminds me, randomly, of my own financial situation with DH.

He and I are a very good economic team in that we can accumulate money like fiends. We are old now and FIRED but back in the day when we were both working we spent little money and banked lots of it.

I only give that background because we are pretty much dysfunctional when it comes to talking about money. Whenever we have conversations about finances, we end up fighting. I know thatís really weird! We share a very strong core value:  save every cent you can, But all the other financial pieces are some thing we have to negotiate and we do not see eye to eye.

So we are good at saving, but we are stupid about investing.  We have three brokerage firms. I know that is wrong, but I canít get him to move off that dime. He belongs to an investment club which I think of as his little menís club and they pick stocks. I just roll my eyes, and while  itís play money he has invested there, just a few thousand dollars, I just think they are silly.

See? Iím not very respectful of his financial activities.

 And we are beyond stupid about having a financial plan for the rest of our lives.  We have a will, we have a trust, Iíve laid it all out, but I had to start all that he would not.

Iím gearing up to plan the last part of our financial life as we slide into elderly status. Iím thinking maybe the Bogelheads site has people who will give me some advice. Iím unhappy about the level of control DH exerts on our resources, but I have to accept that things like his 401(k)s are his alone, as his family farm  just sitting there doing absolutely nothing, a large asset.

Iíve already broken down our assets into a pie chart about what I control exclusively, what he controls exclusively, And our joint assets that I would like to have more control over.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mspym on July 11, 2020, 02:56:23 PM
Hmmmm @iris lily this might be time to bring in a paid expert to be a neutral third party/ mediator. Given your situation, maybe an estate planner or a financial planner who specialises in the later part of life. Because as much as DIY is best and obviously we will all retain mental capacity to manage finances and never fall prey to a scammer and no one will die unexpectedly without sharing passwords and locations of buried treasures... There are certain known issues with aging and money and paying someone for advice to navigate can remove control issues.

And, look, I think I managed to tie this back to the topic of the thread. Phew.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Jezibelle on July 11, 2020, 03:28:27 PM
I'm also bothered by the promotion of not having home insurance or visiting the dentist.
  This is mine, too. I've had a high deductible ($5k) private-pay medical plan for a decade. I wanted it in case of a catastrophe. I've never been even close to reaching that deductible, since I never get sick and have no reason to go to the doctor besides an annual wellness exam. I liken it to paying out of pocket for an oil change-- that's fine; you want the insurance for the big stuff.  ......And then two years ago i suddenly had a brain aneurysm rupture to the tune of over 3/4 of a million dollars. Sure was glad I had that bad boy then. As far as salads and barbells, I'm fairly sure that my anti-inflammatory/low carb/grain-free diet protected my brain, and is a big reason why I have no deficits despite having every complication possible while in ICU for 3 weeks--- but it didn't stop me from having the incredibly expensive event. And had I had lasting deficits, and needed ongoing care the rest of my life, that could eat into an otherwise comfortable uninsured income incredibly quickly. Especially as a single person with one income who lives alone.

I LOVE the term FU Money. [...] I guess my point is, itís great if youíve never been in a really confrontational work environment or other environment where a FU fund can be your life line. But thatís not the reality for many people and these kinds of confrontations are not the same as not being paid as much as you want or mere personality conflicts that you can ďpreventĒ from getting to the FU stage. So many people stay in really horrible situations because they donít feel they a viable choice in walking away. And so many people also assume that they will never be in this situation until they have a very rude awakening.
  I'm with you. I make it clear in my dating site profile that financial stability is important to me-- it's why i'll never be stuck in a job I hate or in an unhealthy relationship. It's why I don't have to put up with anyone's shit.      In my mid 20s I got fed up with a job and told my manager "Fuck this. I'm done." I wasn't anywhere close to FI but I had enough in the bank to survive and take 5 months off, get up every day and go to yoga for a couple hours, and decompress from the shitty job, and do whatever I wanted to do, before starting to freelance.  Having that freedom to know your worth and expect more from people is absolutely empowering.

He acts like kids are the bestest most fulfilling thing ever, but pets are a no-go.  I have the opposite view.  Getting snipped childless at 26 was one of my best decisions.
Hard agree. Fixed at 24.

I recall a blog post somewhere where he talked about canola oil being a great snack and that he just takes a swig when he's hungry and it's a snack that costs like $0.01. Nope nope nope.
WOW.  Cost aside, if he prides himself on being healthy, canola oil is not it. Yikes.
I think that was olive oil.
Oh god, i hope you're right.

As mentioned above, he is single now, so maybe he isn't too concerned about the showers. haha
I feel like if you're single you're more likely to be trying to, um, mingle. That's even more reason to up dem hygiene habits.

Or to put it in a less confusing way, there came a point in my adult life (around 24 or so) where I realized that I was gonna be okay. At that point and since, I don't think anyone should be giving me money or helping me out in any expensive way. My parents (or any secret unknown benefactors out there) should spend money on themselves or preferably, the less fortunately.
I wholeheartedly agree. I think able-bodied adults need to work hard (in whatever way that may be), and contribute to the world around them. I think that's ideal. We're meant to work at things, and a sense of accomplishment is great for mental health. Granted, I could just be biased, though, because I am kind of grossed out by the rich-kid/influencer types. But that's also probably because I do weight a good work ethic pretty heavily in my opinions of people.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: NaN on July 11, 2020, 03:58:46 PM
I disagree with his current thinking on the Coronavirus. What's up with his tweets on herd immunity? He put out a poll on whether NY is not seeing a resurgence because a) masks or b) herd immunity. Then the poll is overwhelmingly is because of mask adoption. And he still says he thinks the herd immunity is answer.

Everyone should have skepticism from MMM.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: iris lily on July 11, 2020, 04:36:19 PM
Hmmmm @iris lily this might be time to bring in a paid expert to be a neutral third party/ mediator. Given your situation, maybe an estate planner or a financial planner who specialises in the later part of life. Because as much as DIY is best and obviously we will all retain mental capacity to manage finances and never fall prey to a scammer and no one will die unexpectedly without sharing passwords and locations of buried treasures... There are certain known issues with aging and money and paying someone for advice to navigate can remove control issues.

And, look, I think I managed to tie this back to the topic of the thread. Phew.

I think a financial planner with a degree in therapy specializing in marriage counseling will probably be best, ha ha!

I will probably start with one of our brokers. Itís just tha then I have to share all of our financial,info with him, And I donít really like anyone having the entire picture. I like the brokers to know their own little worldís but not our entire universe.

Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: marty998 on July 11, 2020, 07:31:34 PM
Hmmmm @iris lily this might be time to bring in a paid expert to be a neutral third party/ mediator. Given your situation, maybe an estate planner or a financial planner who specialises in the later part of life. Because as much as DIY is best and obviously we will all retain mental capacity to manage finances and never fall prey to a scammer and no one will die unexpectedly without sharing passwords and locations of buried treasures... There are certain known issues with aging and money and paying someone for advice to navigate can remove control issues.

And, look, I think I managed to tie this back to the topic of the thread. Phew.

I think a financial planner with a degree in therapy specializing in marriage counseling will probably be best, ha ha!

I will probably start with one of our brokers. Itís just tha then I have to share all of our financial,info with him, And I donít really like anyone having the entire picture. I like the brokers to know their own little worldís but not our entire universe.

Laws are a little different here - when you go to a financial planner for example they are required to ask about all your assets and liabilities so that the advice can take into account all of your personal circumstances.

The tax rules here are so complex and numerous that omitting some information could make some advice scenarios drastically different, especially when it comes to maximising government payments, aged care entitlements and use of tax structures.

But if you're only moving stock brokers around, then yeah - no need for them to have their tentacles in everything.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Kyle Schuant on July 11, 2020, 08:28:35 PM
-I don't totally agree with his stance on not giving his kids wealth so they can earn their own way.  I'd like to give mine a head start while not giving them an entitled/lazy mindset.  It's a delicate balance that I still have time to think through.
It is an important question. I struggle with it myself. However, I would note that "divorced man without custody of children refuses to give them or their mother much if any money" is not an unusual scenario, with or without FIRE considerations.

What I've done with my young children is much like the Scott Pape method. To get their pocket money they must do 3 jobs each week - every 3 months we sit down and discuss what they'll do, currently my 9yo son sweeps the driveway (we have trees with leaves), empties the dishwasher and cleans the hallway toilet; my younger daughter (4yo) just puts the kids' plastic dishes away.

The summer before they start school, they get $3 a week, which goes up $1 on each birthday. They have three "jars" of Give, Save and Spend. At least $1 of their pocket money each week goes into each "jar"; I got my son three pirate treasure chests to do it, and later a wallet for the Spend.

So the idea is to teach them to think of working for what they get, to think of others, think of the future, and not neglect today. As well, once it goes from $3 to $4, they have to decide whether to emphasise giving, saving for the future, or spending today. And each time they spend they have to decide: "Do I want this $8 thing, or these two $3 things? I can't have both." A lot of poor spending habits in adults come from an infantile aversion to the idea of having to make choices. "Can't I have both?" But whatever your income level you have to make choices, even Jeff Bezos couldn't buy Microsoft and Verizon.


I don't veto any purchase choices, but I do make strong suggestions about quality, etc - but ultimately it's their spending decision. One got into some toy line, bought a cheap Chinese knockoff, and was disappointed to find it didn't fit with the genuine one and broke quickly. A lesson was learned. Spend it all on lollies, cheap crap that breaks, or something good - it's your money, you can spend it well or badly, but once spent it's gone.


As for outright handouts, what I've said is that if that if they have something big they want, whatever they save up by their birthday I'll match it. For my son's eighth birthday he wanted a new bike. The idea was: okay if you save like 50 bucks, you'll get a pretty boring cheap bike, if you save 200, a pretty damned good kid's bike. He saved $150, we found a $400 bike on sale for $288 and got it - and as he walked out of the shop with his bike, he said, "I wish it had been cheaper, then I could have paid for it by myself." It's amazing the lessons they learn that you didn't actually try to teach them.


I likewise match their Give money to the charity of their choice - my son usually chooses a homeless guy when we go visit the CBD.


Aside from that, each child since their birth I've put away $25 a week. This is for education and health. We have public healthcare here which is pretty good, but sometimes there'll be a wait for elective surgery - my children won't wait, we'll just pay. We also have state education, but of course there are other things like music and sports, maybe they need a tutor in something they're struggling with, or a speech therapist. And of course dental isn't free, and that cost can be ridiculous.


Pocket money stops when they're old enough to do paid work, which is 15yo. If the money isn't spent by then, my thought had been that at this point, I would say, "Each year on your birthday, however much your bank account is higher than last time, I'll match that increase." If a 100% savings interest rate doesn't encourage savings in a kid, nothing will.


Get them used to the idea of having to earn their money, think of how they want to dispose of their money, reflect on whether it was well spent, and amplify the rewards of savings and charity.


I don't know whether we'll fund university. I'd probably encourage a gap year and match the savings from that. Once they've finished high school they start paying their way at home, though. 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Kyle Schuant on July 11, 2020, 08:35:31 PM
It struck me that for a large number of people in our country, a lot of their home economics training is... advertising.  Which explains a lot about why our per capita income (very high even relative to other rich countries) and our quality of life (lots of extensive social problems not typical of rich countries) seem so misaligned. 

It's similar in Australia. Part of it, too, is lots of dual income full-time working households. So the kids don't get to see ordinary stuff like cleaning the toilet or making bread or boiling up some dried beans. This is one reason I think it's good to have 1-1.5 full-time equivalent jobs in the household, so that one of you has time to do domestic stuff - because that domestic stuff is part of your children's education. Even if they grow up and pay someone else to do that, they should at least understand how the job is done and appreciate the effort involved, so they respect the people they're paying to do it.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: sixwings on July 12, 2020, 08:37:57 AM
I am a firm believer that we need a national, updated non-gendered "life skills" type class.  Not just picking between making a wooden spice rack or baking a pie, but something where teachers lay down the cold hard truths to high schoolers on issues like debt, nutrition, substance abuse, etc. 

In fact, one of my very favorite things about this forum is that at its best it is like basically navy-seal level "life skills" training.  But a lot of people don't even have the basics.

Yes, absolutely! How to make a budget. How to save money. How to set up accounts and pay bills. How to make a doctor/dentist appointment and what does ďco-payĒ mean. How to eat a balanced diet and why itís cheaper and often faster to shop for groceries once a week and prep the food at home.

Add in basic financial calcs like FVs and calculating how much interest actually costs. People really don't understand how bad the credit card debt is because they dont know how to do the math on it.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: TomTX on July 12, 2020, 02:51:10 PM
I'm not sure if it's MMM's - since I 'outgrew' the blog years ago., but...
I disagree with the zealot environmentalism some have/portray.

Am I the scourge of the environment and  bane of humanity if sometimes I burn brush  instead of  dragging it away to a pile where it rots?

no.  The issue with burning brush is the temporary release of particulates into the air, which is bad from a human health standpoint more than anything, and negligible if you follow good burn procedures and you aren't in a densely populated area.  but from a carbon-release standpoint, decaying brush and burned brush are essentially equivalent over a very short time period (a couple of years).  Sequestering that carbon would be best, but it's extremely hard to do on an individual scale - carbon cycling (the decaying of organic material and re-introduction into the ecoystem) is just so efficient.

Biochar (charcoal) is a method which adapts very well to a variety of scales - the simplest method I found was the "flame capped kiln" or "flame capped trough" - which I scaled down (at first) to a chiminea. The basics of the technique is to control air access to the fuel to maximize biochar production/. I then scaled back up to a galvanized steel washtub, which works quite well. 5 gallon steel bucket doesn't work well - too tall for the width and it doesn't get wider as it goes up.

Biochar is soil stable, sequestering carbon for thousands of years, and with proper treatment (ie, mix with compost/manure/urine) - is a great soil amendment improving soil fertility.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Laura33 on July 13, 2020, 07:36:13 AM
@iris lily -- Don't go to your broker.  Brokers are heavily incentivized to direct you to their products.  Find a fee-only financial planner who does not manage assets and who will just charge you a flat fee to work up the plan you need.  Particularly one who is familiar with elder issues -- wills, survivor benefits, etc.  That's really the only way I can think of to make sure you have an unbiased opinion about your entire situation, not just the one little investment part of it. 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mspym on July 13, 2020, 02:51:07 PM
@iris lily -- Don't go to your broker.  Brokers are heavily incentivized to direct you to their products.  Find a fee-only financial planner who does not manage assets and who will just charge you a flat fee to work up the plan you need.  Particularly one who is familiar with elder issues -- wills, survivor benefits, etc.  That's really the only way I can think of to make sure you have an unbiased opinion about your entire situation, not just the one little investment part of it.

Yup that was what I was trying to get at -this is one of the things worth paying for.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Bloop Bloop on July 13, 2020, 08:17:55 PM
One thing I was thinking about today is that I think MMM actually under-emphasises the importance of choosing your partner and friends carefully. You can't choose family, but you can choose partner and friends, and doing your best to surround yourself with people with positive traits (intelligent, thoughtful, prudent, self-directed) will lead to passive gains as much as any material investment will.

We spend so much time trying to perfect our own discipline and self-control and yet we forget that we can get multiplier-effect benefits from just having a partner and friends who share similar values.

On the other hand, it doesn't matter how well you set yourself up, if you have an incompatible partner, or one who is unkind to you, or you have friends who are unsupportive and won't lift you up.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: iris lily on July 13, 2020, 09:35:00 PM
@iris lily -- Don't go to your broker.  Brokers are heavily incentivized to direct you to their products.  Find a fee-only financial planner who does not manage assets and who will just charge you a flat fee to work up the plan you need.  Particularly one who is familiar with elder issues -- wills, survivor benefits, etc.  That's really the only way I can think of to make sure you have an unbiased opinion about your entire situation, not just the one little investment part of it.

Yeah, I know that. I donít need investment advice I need financial counseling.Financial partnership counseling.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: alex753 on July 14, 2020, 06:30:27 AM
I don't want to bike or walk everywhere especially for things such as groceries. I enjoy having a reliable paid off car like my Corolla and it's really cheap to travel with.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: ebella on July 14, 2020, 10:52:38 AM
I know that this is not the subject of his blog but he never touches upon the race, class and gender aspects of money.  Although he says that his approach also works for low incomes it would be much harder for, for example, a single parent with multiple children and a low income to execute FIRE than a privileged person like MMM himself. 

I also find his dismissive attitude to illness and disability rather insulting.  You can do everything 'right' and still get sick.  I was probably equally oblivious until I actually got sick in my 30s.  Luckily, I live in Italy but if I still lived in the US healthcare would be a big and permanent expense for me.  And of course anyone could end up with health issues no matter how much bike riding and salads they indulge in.

Yeah I really agree with this.  He does very little to acknowledge that he started out with privilege (free education, free healthcare, loving family, healthy good at STEM).  Sure he made good choices, but it is a unique aspect of privilege to be oblivious to the ways in which it helped you and attribute your success solely to good choices and shame others for not making those same choices or being as successful.  I'm really privileged too as a white person in America.  But I can't just get a STEM job and FIRE like he did because I'm not great at STEM and I have disabilities that make it hard to crush it for a few years in a very high earning non-STEM job without serious health consequences. I feel like he leaves out lots of discussions of the very real ways things like disability, race, gender and the other economic class one is born into are determinative of ability to FIRE.  Not everyone is white, able-bodied, quantitative-minded, Canadian and most actually aren't.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Zikoris on July 14, 2020, 11:11:35 AM
I know that this is not the subject of his blog but he never touches upon the race, class and gender aspects of money.  Although he says that his approach also works for low incomes it would be much harder for, for example, a single parent with multiple children and a low income to execute FIRE than a privileged person like MMM himself. 

I also find his dismissive attitude to illness and disability rather insulting.  You can do everything 'right' and still get sick.  I was probably equally oblivious until I actually got sick in my 30s.  Luckily, I live in Italy but if I still lived in the US healthcare would be a big and permanent expense for me.  And of course anyone could end up with health issues no matter how much bike riding and salads they indulge in.

Yeah I really agree with this.  He does very little to acknowledge that he started out with privilege (free education, free healthcare, loving family, healthy good at STEM).  Sure he made good choices, but it is a unique aspect of privilege to be oblivious to the ways in which it helped you and attribute your success solely to good choices and shame others for not making those same choices or being as successful.  I'm really privileged too as a white person in America.  But I can't just get a STEM job and FIRE like he did because I'm not great at STEM and I have disabilities that make it hard to crush it for a few years in a very high earning non-STEM job without serious health consequences. I feel like he leaves out lots of discussions of the very real ways things like disability, race, gender and the other economic class one is born into are determinative of ability to FIRE.  Not everyone is white, able-bodied, quantitative-minded, Canadian and most actually aren't.

I think he did touch on why he doesn't go into this stuff at one point - it was in a really old post (or maybe comments on a post?). I wouldn't even know what to search for to find it though, sorry. The gist of it was that FIRE is very much a solo activity, and the general steps a person would take to reach FIRE are universal, regardless of the above factors. For example, I'm a Canadian-born white woman and my boyfriend is a a 1st generation immigrant Singaporean guy, from opposite socio-economic backgrounds (his very wealthy and urban, mine very not-wealthy and rural/remote), and our FIRE process is literally 100% identical, and it also would not change if we were a gay couple, black, etc. The steps just don't change. Find ways to increase income. Find ways to decrease spending. Invest the difference. Retire.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Buffaloski Boris on July 14, 2020, 03:18:06 PM
I know that this is not the subject of his blog but he never touches upon the race, class and gender aspects of money.  Although he says that his approach also works for low incomes it would be much harder for, for example, a single parent with multiple children and a low income to execute FIRE than a privileged person like MMM himself. 

I also find his dismissive attitude to illness and disability rather insulting.  You can do everything 'right' and still get sick.  I was probably equally oblivious until I actually got sick in my 30s.  Luckily, I live in Italy but if I still lived in the US healthcare would be a big and permanent expense for me.  And of course anyone could end up with health issues no matter how much bike riding and salads they indulge in.

Yeah I really agree with this.  He does very little to acknowledge that he started out with privilege (free education, free healthcare, loving family, healthy good at STEM).  Sure he made good choices, but it is a unique aspect of privilege to be oblivious to the ways in which it helped you and attribute your success solely to good choices and shame others for not making those same choices or being as successful.  I'm really privileged too as a white person in America.  But I can't just get a STEM job and FIRE like he did because I'm not great at STEM and I have disabilities that make it hard to crush it for a few years in a very high earning non-STEM job without serious health consequences. I feel like he leaves out lots of discussions of the very real ways things like disability, race, gender and the other economic class one is born into are determinative of ability to FIRE.  Not everyone is white, able-bodied, quantitative-minded, Canadian and most actually aren't.

I think he did touch on why he doesn't go into this stuff at one point - it was in a really old post (or maybe comments on a post?). I wouldn't even know what to search for to find it though, sorry. The gist of it was that FIRE is very much a solo activity, and the general steps a person would take to reach FIRE are universal, regardless of the above factors. For example, I'm a Canadian-born white woman and my boyfriend is a a 1st generation immigrant Singaporean guy, from opposite socio-economic backgrounds (his very wealthy and urban, mine very not-wealthy and rural/remote), and our FIRE process is literally 100% identical, and it also would not change if we were a gay couple, black, etc. The steps just don't change. Find ways to increase income. Find ways to decrease spending. Invest the difference. Retire.
Itís almost like itís amazingly simple math.

Wait....
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: spartana on July 14, 2020, 07:19:36 PM
I know that this is not the subject of his blog but he never touches upon the race, class and gender aspects of money.  Although he says that his approach also works for low incomes it would be much harder for, for example, a single parent with multiple children and a low income to execute FIRE than a privileged person like MMM himself. 

I also find his dismissive attitude to illness and disability rather insulting.  You can do everything 'right' and still get sick.  I was probably equally oblivious until I actually got sick in my 30s.  Luckily, I live in Italy but if I still lived in the US healthcare would be a big and permanent expense for me.  And of course anyone could end up with health issues no matter how much bike riding and salads they indulge in.

Yeah I really agree with this.  He does very little to acknowledge that he started out with privilege (free education, free healthcare, loving family, healthy good at STEM).  Sure he made good choices, but it is a unique aspect of privilege to be oblivious to the ways in which it helped you and attribute your success solely to good choices and shame others for not making those same choices or being as successful.  I'm really privileged too as a white person in America.  But I can't just get a STEM job and FIRE like he did because I'm not great at STEM and I have disabilities that make it hard to crush it for a few years in a very high earning non-STEM job without serious health consequences. I feel like he leaves out lots of discussions of the very real ways things like disability, race, gender and the other economic class one is born into are determinative of ability to FIRE.  Not everyone is white, able-bodied, quantitative-minded, Canadian and most actually aren't.

I think he did touch on why he doesn't go into this stuff at one point - it was in a really old post (or maybe comments on a post?). I wouldn't even know what to search for to find it though, sorry. The gist of it was that FIRE is very much a solo activity, and the general steps a person would take to reach FIRE are universal, regardless of the above factors. For example, I'm a Canadian-born white woman and my boyfriend is a a 1st generation immigrant Singaporean guy, from opposite socio-economic backgrounds (his very wealthy and urban, mine very not-wealthy and rural/remote), and our FIRE process is literally 100% identical, and it also would not change if we were a gay couple, black, etc. The steps just don't change. Find ways to increase income. Find ways to decrease spending. Invest the difference. Retire.
I think the issue of racism and sexism is that while the opportunities are out there for people, often times an employer will not hire someone based on race or sex or any number of other "isms". Even those who are on totally equal footing in terms of training, education, skills, etc can find a much harder time both getting a job, higher pay, and advancing then others - often younger white males. That doesn't mean they can't get a good job, or can't FIRE by following MMM principles, it just means it might not come as easily to non-whites or women or older people or disabled. I worked in a physically demanding blue collar/military career and even with my skills, education and training I believe I'd likely be passed over for similar jobs than a guy. Even one with less ability.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Zikoris on July 14, 2020, 09:00:59 PM
I think the issue of racism and sexism is that while the opportunities are out there for people, often times an employer will not hire someone based on race or sex or any number of other "isms". Even those who are on totally equal footing in terms of training, education, skills, etc can find a much harder time both getting a job, higher pay, and advancing then others - often younger white males. That doesn't mean they can't get a good job, or can't FIRE by following MMM principles, it just means it might not come as easily to non-whites or women or older people or disabled. I worked in a physically demanding blue collar/military career and even with my skills, education and training I believe I'd likely be passed over for similar jobs than a guy. Even one with less ability.

There may well be racist and sexist employers, but my point is that their existence doesn't change the steps an individual person would take to reach FIRE. Unless I suppose you decided to sue your employer and use the settlement to retire. But otherwise, if you work for a company that underpays you because they're racist versus just shitty cheap assholes, the end result is the same for a person that wants to FIRE - they still need to either find a way to increase their income (through finding a better job, starting a business, etc) or find a way to lower their expenses, and invest the difference.

Not to say we shouldn't try to make changes to improve society and deal with "-ist" employers, but I just think in the context of FIRE specifically, those things are just generally not super relevant since it's an individual activity versus something dependent on society at large.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: spartana on July 15, 2020, 08:31:32 AM
I think the issue of racism and sexism is that while the opportunities are out there for people, often times an employer will not hire someone based on race or sex or any number of other "isms". Even those who are on totally equal footing in terms of training, education, skills, etc can find a much harder time both getting a job, higher pay, and advancing then others - often younger white males. That doesn't mean they can't get a good job, or can't FIRE by following MMM principles, it just means it might not come as easily to non-whites or women or older people or disabled. I worked in a physically demanding blue collar/military career and even with my skills, education and training I believe I'd likely be passed over for similar jobs than a guy. Even one with less ability.

There may well be racist and sexist employers, but my point is that their existence doesn't change the steps an individual person would take to reach FIRE. Unless I suppose you decided to sue your employer and use the settlement to retire. But otherwise, if you work for a company that underpays you because they're racist versus just shitty cheap assholes, the end result is the same for a person that wants to FIRE - they still need to either find a way to increase their income (through finding a better job, starting a business, etc) or find a way to lower their expenses, and invest the difference.

Not to say we shouldn't try to make changes to improve society and deal with "-ist" employers, but I just think in the context of FIRE specifically, those things are just generally not super relevant since it's an individual activity versus something dependent on society at large.
I agree. I think MMM writes for "the average younger person" and doesn't make assumptions about their specific situations. And he probably assumes (rightly imho) that each person will adjust the message to their own personal situation. Telling the masses to ride a bike or that it is OK to have no or one kid isn't doing much for a disabled person or a single parent of 5 but they may still glean some useful info. I do think he acknowledges specific situations but generally in passing rather then writing a blog post about it.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Just Joe on July 15, 2020, 08:36:04 AM
For the reasons above and many others, I think many middle- and lower-income folks would benefit from a more balanced approach that dispenses tips for both reducing their expenses and increasing their income (while not succumbing to lifestyle inflation). I've benefitted so much from tips on other FIRE blogs for using the gig economy, continued education, real estate, and other amazing resources to try and set myself up for better earning in the present and future. I'm privileged enough to still have many ways to reduce my expenses, but plenty of people aren't in the same boat...especially if they have a large family, chronic health issues, or are socioeconomically disadvantaged.

For me that is what the forum has provided - two way discussion on many topics - some social, some financial, some foam all the way.

MMM's blog simply laid out the basic framework. The forum IMHO multiplies the value of the blog b/c we have access to the expertise of the group collective.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: oldmachines on July 15, 2020, 08:53:29 AM
When they start taxing wealth instead of income, raise capital gains tax to the same rate as income and tax unrealized capital gains does the simple math still work? I'm already hearing mention of it in California.


Herd immunity is a real thing, however, it works at the expense of a significant portion of the population. Survivor bias in full effect on that one.


If you are going to listen to the majority of scientists when it comes to climate change, why not when it comes to a pandemic?
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: RWD on July 15, 2020, 08:57:52 AM
When they start taxing wealth instead of income, raise capital gains tax to the same rate as income and tax unrealized capital gains does the simple math still work? I'm already hearing mention of it in California.
Because increasing the taxes on the rich worked so well in 2012...
https://www.illinoispolicy.org/californias-fair-tax-hike-spurred-taxpayer-exodus-hurt-middle-class-and-went-mostly-to-pensions/
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Imma on July 15, 2020, 09:07:51 AM
When they start taxing wealth instead of income, raise capital gains tax to the same rate as income and tax unrealized capital gains does the simple math still work? I'm already hearing mention of it in California.


Herd immunity is a real thing, however, it works at the expense of a significant portion of the population. Survivor bias in full effect on that one.


If you are going to listen to the majority of scientists when it comes to climate change, why not when it comes to a pandemic?

In my country we already tax wealth. It just means that you have to include the wealth tax with your spending or subtract the % from the 4% rule. You can still withdraw 4% from your portfolio but you have to reserve a portion of that money to pay the tax. So either way you need to have more money invested for the same amount of spending.

However, in many cases taxing wealth means that they can tax labour at a lower rate so when you're still working or have a side hustle that's an advantage.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: sixwings on July 15, 2020, 09:23:24 AM
Wealth tax also depends on the definition of "wealthy". I would hope that people like 1-2M in assets will get hit much from something like that. I would expect it should be targeted at the actual very wealthy.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on July 15, 2020, 09:45:17 AM
Wealth tax also depends on the definition of "wealthy". I would hope that people like 1-2M in assets will get hit much from something like that. I would expect it should be targeted at the actual very wealthy.

It's not quite accurate to say we do not tax wealth in this country - wealth is taxed (albeit a very favorable rate) via capital gains (CG) taxes.  Estates are also taxed should they exceed $11.9MM (double if held jointly).  Hopefully a wealth tax would be progressive, as is our income tax.  This could be better accomplished simply by re-visiting the capitol gains taxes.  Many countries and some States tax capital gains the same as income (and STCG is typically treated this way as well).
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: sherr on July 15, 2020, 09:54:21 AM
It's not quite accurate to say we do not tax wealth in this country - wealth is taxed (albeit a very favorable rate) via capital gains (CG) taxes.  Estates are also taxed should they exceed $11.9MM (double if held jointly).  Hopefully a wealth tax would be progressive, as is our income tax.  This could be better accomplished simply by re-visiting the capitol gains taxes.  Many countries and some States tax capital gains the same as income (and STCG is typically treated this way as well).

Capital Gains is not really a wealth tax, because you are only taxed on the portion that you choose to realize as income (by selling). A wealth tax would tax you based on how much you own, not how much you realize as income.

Estate taxes are once-in-a-lifetime wealth tax for the super-rich, yes.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on July 15, 2020, 10:05:20 AM
It's not quite accurate to say we do not tax wealth in this country - wealth is taxed (albeit a very favorable rate) via capital gains (CG) taxes.  Estates are also taxed should they exceed $11.9MM (double if held jointly).  Hopefully a wealth tax would be progressive, as is our income tax.  This could be better accomplished simply by re-visiting the capitol gains taxes.  Many countries and some States tax capital gains the same as income (and STCG is typically treated this way as well).

Capital Gains is not really a wealth tax, because you are only taxed on the portion that you choose to realize as income (by selling). A wealth tax would tax you based on how much you own, not how much you realize as income.

Estate taxes are once-in-a-lifetime wealth tax for the super-rich, yes.

Mostly but not quite.  CG are taxes levied on monetary gains made from the sale of assets (i.e. wealth - not income). Income is money earned, typically through a job.  A wealth tax could be based on what is owned and not on appreciation of those assets.  That's one method of having a wealth tax. Another is to treat CG the same as earned income, which addresses the 'double-taxation' argument (though some always argue against any taxation, it seems).

Estate taxes are currently carry a very high exemption ($11.9MM), but this is a relatively recent change to our tax code.  Until 1976 there was no exemption;  from 1976 until 2006 the exemption was below $2MM (and was at or below $1MM until 2003).  It's current level is several times higher than in previous decades.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: sherr on July 15, 2020, 10:15:10 AM
It's not quite accurate to say we do not tax wealth in this country - wealth is taxed (albeit a very favorable rate) via capital gains (CG) taxes.  Estates are also taxed should they exceed $11.9MM (double if held jointly).  Hopefully a wealth tax would be progressive, as is our income tax.  This could be better accomplished simply by re-visiting the capitol gains taxes.  Many countries and some States tax capital gains the same as income (and STCG is typically treated this way as well).

Capital Gains is not really a wealth tax, because you are only taxed on the portion that you choose to realize as income (by selling). A wealth tax would tax you based on how much you own, not how much you realize as income.

Mostly but not quite.  CG are taxes levied on monetary gains made from the sale of assets (i.e. wealth - not income). Income is money earned, typically through a job.  A wealth tax could be based on what is owned and not on appreciation of those assets.  That's one method of having a wealth tax. Another is to treat CG the same as earned income, which addresses the 'double-taxation' argument (though some always argue against any taxation, it seems).

I still disagree. You are falsely equating "income" with "earned income". Capital Gains are a type of "unearned income", even if that's not in the official definition of "unearned income". It's income because it's only based on the part you realize that year, not on all your invested wealth.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on July 15, 2020, 10:19:22 AM
It's not quite accurate to say we do not tax wealth in this country - wealth is taxed (albeit a very favorable rate) via capital gains (CG) taxes.  Estates are also taxed should they exceed $11.9MM (double if held jointly).  Hopefully a wealth tax would be progressive, as is our income tax.  This could be better accomplished simply by re-visiting the capitol gains taxes.  Many countries and some States tax capital gains the same as income (and STCG is typically treated this way as well).

Capital Gains is not really a wealth tax, because you are only taxed on the portion that you choose to realize as income (by selling). A wealth tax would tax you based on how much you own, not how much you realize as income.

Mostly but not quite.  CG are taxes levied on monetary gains made from the sale of assets (i.e. wealth - not income). Income is money earned, typically through a job.  A wealth tax could be based on what is owned and not on appreciation of those assets.  That's one method of having a wealth tax. Another is to treat CG the same as earned income, which addresses the 'double-taxation' argument (though some always argue against any taxation, it seems).

I still disagree. You are falsely equating "income" with "earned income". Capital Gains are taxes on "unearned income", but it's still definitely income. And increasing the CG rates doesn't count as a "wealth tax".

I agree that current CG rates are so favorable and non-progressive that they are not a significant tax on wealth, but any CG tax is a wealth tax, however small or ineffectual. If LTCG were taxes at the same rates as ordinary income ("earned income") that would represent a sizable wealth tax.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Imma on July 15, 2020, 10:58:25 AM
Wealth tax also depends on the definition of "wealthy". I would hope that people like 1-2M in assets will get hit much from something like that. I would expect it should be targeted at the actual very wealthy.

In my country it starts at around 60k, your residence is exempt, and there's a lower rate for those with less than 150k in wealth and a higher rate for millionaires. Rental properties are taxed but the income is tax free.

There's a reason why moderately wealty people are taxed most: the very rich can easily hide their assets, and people in the lowest wealth categories would rather spend than pay taxes. Mustachian types are the ones you want to target: they'll continue to build wealth even if they are being taxed.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: talltexan on July 15, 2020, 12:29:02 PM
What's so amazing is that property taxes are so widely accepted when other kinds of wealth taxes are considered lunacy.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on July 15, 2020, 12:39:44 PM
What's so amazing is that property taxes are so widely accepted when other kinds of wealth taxes are considered lunacy.

Having lived in a couple different countries I do find that people largely accept the taxes they have (though people complain everywhere) yet they bitterly oppose other kinds of taxes which are common and accepted elsewhere.

As examples, the US does not have a federal sales or 'Value Added' tax.  Most municipalities here tax properties, but none (to my knowledge) tax money held in savings accounts (though we do take Capital Gains).  Many states have annual vehicle taxes, but most other property is exempt.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: slappy on July 15, 2020, 01:48:21 PM
When they start taxing wealth instead of income, raise capital gains tax to the same rate as income and tax unrealized capital gains does the simple math still work? I'm already hearing mention of it in California.


Herd immunity is a real thing, however, it works at the expense of a significant portion of the population. Survivor bias in full effect on that one.


If you are going to listen to the majority of scientists when it comes to climate change, why not when it comes to a pandemic?

How exactly would you tax unrealized capital gains?
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: sherr on July 15, 2020, 02:25:57 PM
How exactly would you tax unrealized capital gains?

How does the government tax the unrealized appreciation on your house? They estimate it.

Actually taxing unrealized gains on many things would be far easier. House prices are hugely individually variable. One share of a particular stock has a market-set value at any given point of time. A stock wealth tax would be as easy as saying "take the value of your shares at market close on Dec 31."

You could either base the tax on total investment value or just on Gains, but either way it's just as easy to calculate.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on July 15, 2020, 02:37:24 PM
How exactly would you tax unrealized capital gains?

How does the government tax the unrealized appreciation on your house? They estimate it.

Actually taxing unrealized gains on many things would be far easier. House prices are hugely individually variable. One share of a particular stock has a market-set value at any given point of time. A stock wealth tax would be as easy as saying "take the value of your shares at market close on Dec 31."

You could either base the tax on total investment value or just on Gains, but either way it's just as easy to calculate.

So would you tax the gains again upon sale, or would you simply shift capital gains to an annual reporting? 
If the former, how will you address the Ďdouble-taxationí issue?
If the latter, what problem is this meant to solve, and how does it solve it?
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: sherr on July 15, 2020, 03:13:28 PM
How exactly would you tax unrealized capital gains?

How does the government tax the unrealized appreciation on your house? They estimate it.

Actually taxing unrealized gains on many things would be far easier. House prices are hugely individually variable. One share of a particular stock has a market-set value at any given point of time. A stock wealth tax would be as easy as saying "take the value of your shares at market close on Dec 31."

You could either base the tax on total investment value or just on Gains, but either way it's just as easy to calculate.

So would you tax the gains again upon sale, or would you simply shift capital gains to an annual reporting? 
If the former, how will you address the Ďdouble-taxationí issue?
If the latter, what problem is this meant to solve, and how does it solve it?

Are you asking me to propose a full tax reform plan? I don't have one ready for you.

My point was simply that the idea of a wealth tax is neither impractical nor really that onerous. If they can tax you on the value of your house every year then why not stocks?
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: iris lily on July 15, 2020, 06:00:38 PM
How exactly would you tax unrealized capital gains?

How does the government tax the unrealized appreciation on your house? They estimate it.

Actually taxing unrealized gains on many things would be far easier. House prices are hugely individually variable. One share of a particular stock has a market-set value at any given point of time. A stock wealth tax would be as easy as saying "take the value of your shares at market close on Dec 31."

You could either base the tax on total investment value or just on Gains, but either way it's just as easy to calculate.

So would you tax the gains again upon sale, or would you simply shift capital gains to an annual reporting? 
If the former, how will you address the Ďdouble-taxationí issue?
If the latter, what problem is this meant to solve, and how does it solve it?

Are you asking me to propose a full tax reform plan? I don't have one ready for you.

My point was simply that the idea of a wealth tax is neither impractical nor really that onerous. If they can tax you on the value of your house every year then why not stocks?

Well, The quick rejoinder to that question is: the taxing authority for my real estate makes and keeps records about my real estate. They donít count on me to report what I own and the value of it, , they know that I own it, approximate size, how many bathrooms and etc.and They have their own system of assigning value to all of those things.

That would not be the case for other assets I own.

Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on July 15, 2020, 07:25:50 PM
How exactly would you tax unrealized capital gains?

How does the government tax the unrealized appreciation on your house? They estimate it.

Actually taxing unrealized gains on many things would be far easier. House prices are hugely individually variable. One share of a particular stock has a market-set value at any given point of time. A stock wealth tax would be as easy as saying "take the value of your shares at market close on Dec 31."

You could either base the tax on total investment value or just on Gains, but either way it's just as easy to calculate.

So would you tax the gains again upon sale, or would you simply shift capital gains to an annual reporting? 
If the former, how will you address the Ďdouble-taxationí issue?
If the latter, what problem is this meant to solve, and how does it solve it?

Are you asking me to propose a full tax reform plan? I don't have one ready for you.

My point was simply that the idea of a wealth tax is neither impractical nor really that onerous. If they can tax you on the value of your house every year then why not stocks?

No, Iím not asking for a full tax reform plan, but since you suggested taxing unrealized gains I was curious how you believe that should work.  There are two divergent ways of taxing unrealized gains, and both have their own inherent problems.
Ultimately if your goal is to tax wealth instead of (or in addition to) taxing income, levying taxes on unrealized gains is not going to probably not an effective way of accomplishing this aim.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mjdh1957 on July 16, 2020, 01:35:21 AM
Ireland in effect has taxes on unrealised investment gains. Investment funds have an 'exit tax' which is currently 41% on gains made when you sell, but it is also levied every eight years whether you sell or not.

https://www.irishlife.ie/sites/retail/files/bline-content/exit_tax.pdf
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: talltexan on July 16, 2020, 05:59:33 AM
I suppose the estate tax counts as a tax on unrealized gains.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Imma on July 16, 2020, 07:26:04 AM
In my country (the Netherlands) we don't tax capital gains, we tax wealth on Jan 1st. They've chosen to do that exactly because taxing unrealized/realized gains is a hassle. So you just pay taxes on whatever you own at that date. It doesn't matter if you own a property or stocks or hold money in cash.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: DadJokes on July 16, 2020, 07:48:49 AM
In my country (the Netherlands) we don't tax capital gains, we tax wealth on Jan 1st. They've chosen to do that exactly because taxing unrealized/realized gains is a hassle. So you just pay taxes on whatever you own at that date. It doesn't matter if you own a property or stocks or hold money in cash.

How do they determine the value of what you own?

As it relates to stocks, I'm guessing that it would have to either be at cost or at current value. If it's current value, then that is unrealized gains.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Imma on July 16, 2020, 08:16:59 AM
In my country (the Netherlands) we don't tax capital gains, we tax wealth on Jan 1st. They've chosen to do that exactly because taxing unrealized/realized gains is a hassle. So you just pay taxes on whatever you own at that date. It doesn't matter if you own a property or stocks or hold money in cash.

How do they determine the value of what you own?

As it relates to stocks, I'm guessing that it would have to either be at cost or at current value. If it's current value, then that is unrealized gains.

- the money in your checking/savings/investment accounts
- minus loans and mortgages (cross checked with information provided by banks/brokers)
- cash, precious metals for investing (gold bars, not gold jewelry)
self-report but if you hide stuff it's fraud
- value of any properties you own except your main residence, value is estimated by the local government or property tax purposes (cross checked with local government and land registry)
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: talltexan on July 16, 2020, 09:14:06 AM
How are business entities valued for this? What about quasi-investable assets like wines or art?

Suppose you're accumulating a balance in a whole life insurance product?
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Linea_Norway on July 16, 2020, 12:33:04 PM
In my country (the Netherlands) we don't tax capital gains, we tax wealth on Jan 1st. They've chosen to do that exactly because taxing unrealized/realized gains is a hassle. So you just pay taxes on whatever you own at that date. It doesn't matter if you own a property or stocks or hold money in cash.

In Norway we do both, capital gains on selling stocks, about 30%! And wealth on Jan 1rst, about 1%. With 25% reduction when you have invested in stock, rather than cash.

All Norwegian banks and stock brokers report in automatically. You need to self report on anything you buy abroad.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Imma on July 16, 2020, 02:01:37 PM
How are business entities valued for this? What about quasi-investable assets like wines or art?

Suppose you're accumulating a balance in a whole life insurance product?

Whole life insurance doesn't exist where we live. Quasi-investable assets are a matter for tax lawyers. The tax authorities need to prove they are bought as investments and not for personal use. That's nearly impossible for them to do so it's certainly a popular way to hide assets (as are cars, watches, vintage instruments). If you sell them and make a lot of profit there will be more money in your bank account that can easily be taxed. The wealth tax isn't very high so a lot of people don't even bother.

If you own more than 5% of company stock there's a special way to tax that (I could totally explain that, I'm a tax law specialist by trade :)  but it would take a lot of paragraphs - we sort of tax gains there) if you own less than 5% your stock in a company this is just seen as a regular investment. If the company is not publicly traded, valuation can be an issue - in that case the value of the stock is based on the company's balance sheet and sometimes the tax authorities have heated debates about this with the company's accountants and lawyers. But I'm sure that happens in all countries.   
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: EscapeVelocity2020 on July 16, 2020, 02:23:23 PM
I realize that this is off topic, but I'm encouraged to see Mustachians thinking so much about US taxes.  It is inevitable that US tax reforms are headed our way and the most simple and effective way to increase taxes would be a wealth tax.  With all the unemployment now and for the foreseeable future, income tax reform will not close the gap with what was already a $1T deficit in 2019 (https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/25/federal-deficit-increases-26percent-to-984-billion-for-fiscal-2019.html).

Also, social security cuts will be coming sooner than expected (https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/07/16/3-signs-social-security-cuts-could-happen-sooner-than-you-think/112154662/).

Quote
Because Americans are facing unemployment in record numbers, there are a lot of people not paying payroll taxes right now. That means the SSA is collecting a lot less than expected in taxes and will likely need to take even more from its trust funds to continue paying out current benefits. While nobody knows exactly what this will mean for the future of Social Security, a report from the Bipartisan Policy Center estimates that because of COVID-19, the trust funds could be depleted as soon as 2028.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Buffaloski Boris on July 16, 2020, 09:32:42 PM
I realize that this is off topic, but I'm encouraged to see Mustachians thinking so much about US taxes.  It is inevitable that US tax reforms are headed our way and the most simple and effective way to increase taxes would be a wealth tax.  With all the unemployment now and for the foreseeable future, income tax reform will not close the gap with what was already a $1T deficit in 2019 (https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/25/federal-deficit-increases-26percent-to-984-billion-for-fiscal-2019.html).

Also, social security cuts will be coming sooner than expected (https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/07/16/3-signs-social-security-cuts-could-happen-sooner-than-you-think/112154662/).

Quote
Because Americans are facing unemployment in record numbers, there are a lot of people not paying payroll taxes right now. That means the SSA is collecting a lot less than expected in taxes and will likely need to take even more from its trust funds to continue paying out current benefits. While nobody knows exactly what this will mean for the future of Social Security, a report from the Bipartisan Policy Center estimates that because of COVID-19, the trust funds could be depleted as soon as 2028.

Glad you bring up taxes. A pet peeve of mine is that to the extent FI commentators talk about taxes, they almost always ignore state and local taxes.  Those are a big deal for me; the state and local bite overall is a good third to half of what the Federal part is. We get all excited that we get a break on capital gains at the Federal level, but donít consider that a lot of states give zero preferential treatment to capital gains in paying state income taxes. And itís going to get dramatically more intense soon. Most states canít spend at a deficit. Whereas the Federal government can and does.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Imma on July 17, 2020, 01:06:21 AM
I'm always surprised at how high local taxes are in the US and that they only seem to be paid by homeowners as far as I can see and not by renters. To me that sounds quite odd.

I'm a homeowner, our property is maybe worth Ä200k and we pay like Ä750-1000/year for all local taxes combined. Some taxes are hidden, for example in the water bill, so this is an estimate.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: LWYRUP on July 17, 2020, 04:26:06 AM
I realize that this is off topic, but I'm encouraged to see Mustachians thinking so much about US taxes.  It is inevitable that US tax reforms are headed our way and the most simple and effective way to increase taxes would be a wealth tax.  With all the unemployment now and for the foreseeable future, income tax reform will not close the gap with what was already a $1T deficit in 2019 (https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/25/federal-deficit-increases-26percent-to-984-billion-for-fiscal-2019.html).

Also, social security cuts will be coming sooner than expected (https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/07/16/3-signs-social-security-cuts-could-happen-sooner-than-you-think/112154662/).

Quote
Because Americans are facing unemployment in record numbers, there are a lot of people not paying payroll taxes right now. That means the SSA is collecting a lot less than expected in taxes and will likely need to take even more from its trust funds to continue paying out current benefits. While nobody knows exactly what this will mean for the future of Social Security, a report from the Bipartisan Policy Center estimates that because of COVID-19, the trust funds could be depleted as soon as 2028.

Glad you bring up taxes. A pet peeve of mine is that to the extent FI commentators talk about taxes, they almost always ignore state and local taxes.  Those are a big deal for me; the state and local bite overall is a good third to half of what the Federal part is. We get all excited that we get a break on capital gains at the Federal level, but donít consider that a lot of states give zero preferential treatment to capital gains in paying state income taxes. And itís going to get dramatically more intense soon. Most states canít spend at a deficit. Whereas the Federal government can and does.

If you stack together income + property + sales, I pay may state more than I pay the federal government. 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mjdh1957 on July 17, 2020, 04:40:10 AM
I'm always surprised at how high local taxes are in the US

Me too. In Ireland I pay Ä260 per year local property tax
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Adam Zapple on July 17, 2020, 05:26:05 AM
I didn't read all of the replies and I am nitpicking here.  I don't know that MMM necessarily considers himself an environmentalist, but several followers of this blog do.  I just don't think that you can call yourself an environmentalist while simultaneously investing in global corporations who push consumerism, create tons of unnecessary waste, carbon emissions and pollution.  I have heard the argument that we are not actually investing in, say, Exxon Mobil, but are purchasing a share from another person and the corporation doesn't recieve this money so it's fine.  This is nonsense.  Our participation in creating a demand for the shares we purchase raises capital and enriches the corporation, its investors, its CEO's etc.  Without the demand for shares, corporations would not exist. 

I recognize this is a highly complex subject.  In some situations, large corporations can actually be beneficial in comparison to several smaller, less efficient companies in terms of waste and pollution etc.  I am also not an all-or-nothing person.  I just don't think we can consider ourselves more virtous than your average consumer who drives an SUV and spends all of their money on lattes instead of investing since we are participants in a market that benefits corporations who destroy the planet.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Buffaloski Boris on July 17, 2020, 05:52:33 AM
I'm always surprised at how high local taxes are in the US and that they only seem to be paid by homeowners as far as I can see and not by renters. To me that sounds quite odd.

I'm a homeowner, our property is maybe worth Ä200k and we pay like Ä750-1000/year for all local taxes combined. Some taxes are hidden, for example in the water bill, so this is an estimate.

Wow.  To pay only $1000 in state and local taxes in a year! Once I enter into retirement, what I pay to state and local governments will be more than I pay the Federal government as I'll no longer be paying into our Federal pension scheme (social security), and will presumably be in a lower or at least not any higher (Federal) marginal income tax bracket.

As for property taxes, renters do not pay those directly in the US, but they pay them indirectly as part of their rent.  My property taxes, which are probably on the lower end, are roughly $4000 a year.  Plus I pay a state income tax (about 5-6% marginal rate), plus I pay state and local sales tax (VAT) of 6%, plus any hidden taxes on gasoline, alcohol, vehicle registration, licenses, property transfer taxes, etc.  And my state is probably on the middle end when it comes to taxes.  States such as NJ/NY/CA typically have much higher taxes.

There is this theme that Europeans pay significantly more in taxes than Americans.  When you add it all together, it's not quite as big of a difference.   

Yet for some reason we in the FI community seem to be more concerned about the economic impact of 0.5% to 1% in investment fees on our portfolio while ignoring the long term impact of upwards of 7-10% marginal state income tax rates that some folks are paying.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: talltexan on July 17, 2020, 06:00:01 AM
I didn't read all of the replies and I am nitpicking here.  I don't know that MMM necessarily considers himself an environmentalist, but several followers of this blog do.  I just don't think that you can call yourself an environmentalist while simultaneously investing in global corporations who push consumerism, create tons of unnecessary waste, carbon emissions and pollution.  I have heard the argument that we are not actually investing in, say, Exxon Mobil, but are purchasing a share from another person and the corporation doesn't recieve this money so it's fine.  This is nonsense.  Our participation in creating a demand for the shares we purchase raises capital and enriches the corporation, its investors, its CEO's etc.  Without the demand for shares, corporations would not exist. 

I recognize this is a highly complex subject.  In some situations, large corporations can actually be beneficial in comparison to several smaller, less efficient companies in terms of waste and pollution etc.  I am also not an all-or-nothing person.  I just don't think we can consider ourselves more virtous than your average consumer who drives an SUV and spends all of their money on lattes instead of investing since we are participants in a market that benefits corporations who destroy the planet.

If you switch from index funds to active investments, I imagine there's a whole menu of environmentally responsible investment options.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Buffaloski Boris on July 17, 2020, 06:03:37 AM
I realize that this is off topic, but I'm encouraged to see Mustachians thinking so much about US taxes.  It is inevitable that US tax reforms are headed our way and the most simple and effective way to increase taxes would be a wealth tax.  With all the unemployment now and for the foreseeable future, income tax reform will not close the gap with what was already a $1T deficit in 2019 (https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/25/federal-deficit-increases-26percent-to-984-billion-for-fiscal-2019.html).

Also, social security cuts will be coming sooner than expected (https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/07/16/3-signs-social-security-cuts-could-happen-sooner-than-you-think/112154662/).

Quote
Because Americans are facing unemployment in record numbers, there are a lot of people not paying payroll taxes right now. That means the SSA is collecting a lot less than expected in taxes and will likely need to take even more from its trust funds to continue paying out current benefits. While nobody knows exactly what this will mean for the future of Social Security, a report from the Bipartisan Policy Center estimates that because of COVID-19, the trust funds could be depleted as soon as 2028.

Glad you bring up taxes. A pet peeve of mine is that to the extent FI commentators talk about taxes, they almost always ignore state and local taxes.  Those are a big deal for me; the state and local bite overall is a good third to half of what the Federal part is. We get all excited that we get a break on capital gains at the Federal level, but donít consider that a lot of states give zero preferential treatment to capital gains in paying state income taxes. And itís going to get dramatically more intense soon. Most states canít spend at a deficit. Whereas the Federal government can and does.

If you stack together income + property + sales, I pay may state more than I pay the federal government.

No doubt.  But that seems to be an almost hands-off topic.  Yeah, I get the taxes are what we pay for services like roads and a fire department, which I happen to be a big fan of.  There is also a whole lot of variance in efficiency and what people pay for those services. Compare the significantly different tax burdens of a state like SD with no state income tax and relatively light property and sales taxes with another state like NJ where the overall tax burden is confiscatory.  If people are dying on the streets of SD cities because of the lack of services, it's missed my notice.  They have schools, fire departments, paved roads, and they even have schools.   
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: slappy on July 17, 2020, 06:33:20 AM
I didn't read all of the replies and I am nitpicking here.  I don't know that MMM necessarily considers himself an environmentalist, but several followers of this blog do.  I just don't think that you can call yourself an environmentalist while simultaneously investing in global corporations who push consumerism, create tons of unnecessary waste, carbon emissions and pollution.  I have heard the argument that we are not actually investing in, say, Exxon Mobil, but are purchasing a share from another person and the corporation doesn't recieve this money so it's fine.  This is nonsense.  Our participation in creating a demand for the shares we purchase raises capital and enriches the corporation, its investors, its CEO's etc.  Without the demand for shares, corporations would not exist. 

I recognize this is a highly complex subject.  In some situations, large corporations can actually be beneficial in comparison to several smaller, less efficient companies in terms of waste and pollution etc.  I am also not an all-or-nothing person.  I just don't think we can consider ourselves more virtous than your average consumer who drives an SUV and spends all of their money on lattes instead of investing since we are participants in a market that benefits corporations who destroy the planet.

If you switch from index funds to active investments, I imagine there's a whole menu of environmentally responsible investment options.

Do they revoke your forum credentials if you switch from index funds, though? /s
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: slappy on July 17, 2020, 06:34:04 AM
I realize that this is off topic, but I'm encouraged to see Mustachians thinking so much about US taxes.  It is inevitable that US tax reforms are headed our way and the most simple and effective way to increase taxes would be a wealth tax.  With all the unemployment now and for the foreseeable future, income tax reform will not close the gap with what was already a $1T deficit in 2019 (https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/25/federal-deficit-increases-26percent-to-984-billion-for-fiscal-2019.html).

Also, social security cuts will be coming sooner than expected (https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/07/16/3-signs-social-security-cuts-could-happen-sooner-than-you-think/112154662/).

Quote
Because Americans are facing unemployment in record numbers, there are a lot of people not paying payroll taxes right now. That means the SSA is collecting a lot less than expected in taxes and will likely need to take even more from its trust funds to continue paying out current benefits. While nobody knows exactly what this will mean for the future of Social Security, a report from the Bipartisan Policy Center estimates that because of COVID-19, the trust funds could be depleted as soon as 2028.

Glad you bring up taxes. A pet peeve of mine is that to the extent FI commentators talk about taxes, they almost always ignore state and local taxes.  Those are a big deal for me; the state and local bite overall is a good third to half of what the Federal part is. We get all excited that we get a break on capital gains at the Federal level, but donít consider that a lot of states give zero preferential treatment to capital gains in paying state income taxes. And itís going to get dramatically more intense soon. Most states canít spend at a deficit. Whereas the Federal government can and does.

Aren't they included in overall expenses?
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: DadJokes on July 17, 2020, 06:40:28 AM
I realize that this is off topic, but I'm encouraged to see Mustachians thinking so much about US taxes.  It is inevitable that US tax reforms are headed our way and the most simple and effective way to increase taxes would be a wealth tax.  With all the unemployment now and for the foreseeable future, income tax reform will not close the gap with what was already a $1T deficit in 2019 (https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/25/federal-deficit-increases-26percent-to-984-billion-for-fiscal-2019.html).

Also, social security cuts will be coming sooner than expected (https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/07/16/3-signs-social-security-cuts-could-happen-sooner-than-you-think/112154662/).

Quote
Because Americans are facing unemployment in record numbers, there are a lot of people not paying payroll taxes right now. That means the SSA is collecting a lot less than expected in taxes and will likely need to take even more from its trust funds to continue paying out current benefits. While nobody knows exactly what this will mean for the future of Social Security, a report from the Bipartisan Policy Center estimates that because of COVID-19, the trust funds could be depleted as soon as 2028.

Glad you bring up taxes. A pet peeve of mine is that to the extent FI commentators talk about taxes, they almost always ignore state and local taxes.  Those are a big deal for me; the state and local bite overall is a good third to half of what the Federal part is. We get all excited that we get a break on capital gains at the Federal level, but donít consider that a lot of states give zero preferential treatment to capital gains in paying state income taxes. And itís going to get dramatically more intense soon. Most states canít spend at a deficit. Whereas the Federal government can and does.

It's difficult for a FI commentator to talk about local taxes when local taxes are different everywhere.

As for the current situation, we're anticipating about a 30% increase in property taxes going forward. Since we just refinanced our mortgage, our payment will probably end up close to what it was before the refinance.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Feivel2000 on July 17, 2020, 07:47:43 AM
How exactly would you tax unrealized capital gains?

How does the government tax the unrealized appreciation on your house? They estimate it.

Actually taxing unrealized gains on many things would be far easier. House prices are hugely individually variable. One share of a particular stock has a market-set value at any given point of time. A stock wealth tax would be as easy as saying "take the value of your shares at market close on Dec 31."

You could either base the tax on total investment value or just on Gains, but either way it's just as easy to calculate.

So would you tax the gains again upon sale, or would you simply shift capital gains to an annual reporting? 
If the former, how will you address the Ďdouble-taxationí issue?
If the latter, what problem is this meant to solve, and how does it solve it?

Are you asking me to propose a full tax reform plan? I don't have one ready for you.

My point was simply that the idea of a wealth tax is neither impractical nor really that onerous. If they can tax you on the value of your house every year then why not stocks?

Well, The quick rejoinder to that question is: the taxing authority for my real estate makes and keeps records about my real estate. They donít count on me to report what I own and the value of it, , they know that I own it, approximate size, how many bathrooms and etc.and They have their own system of assigning value to all of those things.

That would not be the case for other assets I own.

Government can simply force your bank to withdraw the wealth tax based on the information they have about your stocks, etc. Then you can do your taxes to prove that you paid to much.
For other values like wine, gold, art, etc, tax law can simply force you to state it by yourself. And if a tax audit shows that you didn't followed the law, they can take all your possession and throw you in jail, so that it's not that good of a deal, to not pay the wealth tax...

I don't see the problem...
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Buffaloski Boris on July 17, 2020, 08:38:36 AM
I realize that this is off topic, but I'm encouraged to see Mustachians thinking so much about US taxes.  It is inevitable that US tax reforms are headed our way and the most simple and effective way to increase taxes would be a wealth tax.  With all the unemployment now and for the foreseeable future, income tax reform will not close the gap with what was already a $1T deficit in 2019 (https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/25/federal-deficit-increases-26percent-to-984-billion-for-fiscal-2019.html).

Also, social security cuts will be coming sooner than expected (https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/07/16/3-signs-social-security-cuts-could-happen-sooner-than-you-think/112154662/).

Quote
Because Americans are facing unemployment in record numbers, there are a lot of people not paying payroll taxes right now. That means the SSA is collecting a lot less than expected in taxes and will likely need to take even more from its trust funds to continue paying out current benefits. While nobody knows exactly what this will mean for the future of Social Security, a report from the Bipartisan Policy Center estimates that because of COVID-19, the trust funds could be depleted as soon as 2028.

Glad you bring up taxes. A pet peeve of mine is that to the extent FI commentators talk about taxes, they almost always ignore state and local taxes.  Those are a big deal for me; the state and local bite overall is a good third to half of what the Federal part is. We get all excited that we get a break on capital gains at the Federal level, but donít consider that a lot of states give zero preferential treatment to capital gains in paying state income taxes. And itís going to get dramatically more intense soon. Most states canít spend at a deficit. Whereas the Federal government can and does.

It's difficult for a FI commentator to talk about local taxes when local taxes are different everywhere.

As for the current situation, we're anticipating about a 30% increase in property taxes going forward. Since we just refinanced our mortgage, our payment will probably end up close to what it was before the refinance.

I disagree that FI commentators canít talk about state taxes. There are a lot of common themes like geoarbitrage, appeals of property taxes, owning vehicles through an LLC etc to reduce the overall tax burden. It just seems like itís ďtoo difficultď for them, so they donít. And instead they comment on active versus passive investing to save 1% in fees. Thereís probably some ideological issues as well. I remember one FI commentator waxing on as to how she was proud to pay her relatively high state and local taxes.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: slappy on July 17, 2020, 08:56:30 AM
I realize that this is off topic, but I'm encouraged to see Mustachians thinking so much about US taxes.  It is inevitable that US tax reforms are headed our way and the most simple and effective way to increase taxes would be a wealth tax.  With all the unemployment now and for the foreseeable future, income tax reform will not close the gap with what was already a $1T deficit in 2019 (https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/25/federal-deficit-increases-26percent-to-984-billion-for-fiscal-2019.html).

Also, social security cuts will be coming sooner than expected (https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/07/16/3-signs-social-security-cuts-could-happen-sooner-than-you-think/112154662/).

Quote
Because Americans are facing unemployment in record numbers, there are a lot of people not paying payroll taxes right now. That means the SSA is collecting a lot less than expected in taxes and will likely need to take even more from its trust funds to continue paying out current benefits. While nobody knows exactly what this will mean for the future of Social Security, a report from the Bipartisan Policy Center estimates that because of COVID-19, the trust funds could be depleted as soon as 2028.

Glad you bring up taxes. A pet peeve of mine is that to the extent FI commentators talk about taxes, they almost always ignore state and local taxes.  Those are a big deal for me; the state and local bite overall is a good third to half of what the Federal part is. We get all excited that we get a break on capital gains at the Federal level, but donít consider that a lot of states give zero preferential treatment to capital gains in paying state income taxes. And itís going to get dramatically more intense soon. Most states canít spend at a deficit. Whereas the Federal government can and does.

It's difficult for a FI commentator to talk about local taxes when local taxes are different everywhere.

As for the current situation, we're anticipating about a 30% increase in property taxes going forward. Since we just refinanced our mortgage, our payment will probably end up close to what it was before the refinance.

I disagree that FI commentators canít talk about state taxes. There are a lot of common themes like geoarbitrage, appeals of property taxes, owning vehicles through an LLC etc to reduce the overall tax burden. It just seems like itís ďtoo difficultď for them, so they donít. And instead they comment on active versus passive investing to save 1% in fees. Thereís probably some ideological issues as well. I remember one FI commentator waxing on as to how she was proud to pay her relatively high state and local taxes.

I don't recall that individual, but it seems a lot of people feel that way in my community. I think it has to do with the direct effect that they can see and experience. When you pay high property taxes (as i do, $7k a year), generally you are getting something in return. For example, I live in a safe community with a great school district. I personally don't feel I fit in, but many people love the town and are proud to be here. So they see their taxes are part of that. When you pay federal taxes, you don't necessarily benefit directly, at least not in a way that most people can relate to. They see their federal taxes as going to pay for entitlement programs they may not agree with or things that benefit society as a whole, even though they don't impact my daily life directly.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Dicey on July 17, 2020, 09:24:52 AM
I realize that this is off topic, but I'm encouraged to see Mustachians thinking so much about US taxes.  It is inevitable that US tax reforms are headed our way and the most simple and effective way to increase taxes would be a wealth tax.  With all the unemployment now and for the foreseeable future, income tax reform will not close the gap with what was already a $1T deficit in 2019 (https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/25/federal-deficit-increases-26percent-to-984-billion-for-fiscal-2019.html).

Also, social security cuts will be coming sooner than expected (https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/07/16/3-signs-social-security-cuts-could-happen-sooner-than-you-think/112154662/).

Quote
Because Americans are facing unemployment in record numbers, there are a lot of people not paying payroll taxes right now. That means the SSA is collecting a lot less than expected in taxes and will likely need to take even more from its trust funds to continue paying out current benefits. While nobody knows exactly what this will mean for the future of Social Security, a report from the Bipartisan Policy Center estimates that because of COVID-19, the trust funds could be depleted as soon as 2028.

Glad you bring up taxes. A pet peeve of mine is that to the extent FI commentators talk about taxes, they almost always ignore state and local taxes.  Those are a big deal for me; the state and local bite overall is a good third to half of what the Federal part is. We get all excited that we get a break on capital gains at the Federal level, but donít consider that a lot of states give zero preferential treatment to capital gains in paying state income taxes. And itís going to get dramatically more intense soon. Most states canít spend at a deficit. Whereas the Federal government can and does.

If you stack together income + property + sales, I pay may state more than I pay the federal government.

Due to a successful house flip in a state that doesn't give a break on capital gains, in 2019 we paid way more to the fine state of CA than we did to the feds. But I hadn't considered the question from @LYWRUP's POV.  If I include property taxes in the state portion, it's at least double. If I include the property taxes on our rentals, the disparity gets even bigger... Oh, shit! I'll have to do a little research.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: RWD on July 17, 2020, 10:10:30 AM
I didn't read all of the replies [...]
Obviously. This topic was beaten to death back on page 3 (https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/in-what-ways-do-you-disagree-with-mmm's-approach/msg2653487/#msg2653487). Short answer is that your logic that you purchasing shares somehow benefits a company is flawed. Even if a very large group of people boycott a stock all it takes is a few wealthy investors without your anti-consumerist concerns to see the potential earnings and bring it back into line with it's actual value based on the performance of the company. Boycott the products, not the stock.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: RWD on July 17, 2020, 10:12:05 AM
I'm always surprised at how high local taxes are in the US and that they only seem to be paid by homeowners as far as I can see and not by renters. To me that sounds quite odd.
Why would renters pay property tax? They don't own the property. Though through their rent they are indirectly helping pay the landlord's property tax.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: DadJokes on July 17, 2020, 11:16:35 AM
I'm always surprised at how high local taxes are in the US and that they only seem to be paid by homeowners as far as I can see and not by renters. To me that sounds quite odd.

I'm a homeowner, our property is maybe worth Ä200k and we pay like Ä750-1000/year for all local taxes combined. Some taxes are hidden, for example in the water bill, so this is an estimate.

The landlords aren't eating the taxes. They pass that expense on to renters in the form of higher rent.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: FIPurpose on July 17, 2020, 11:34:24 AM
I'm always surprised at how high local taxes are in the US and that they only seem to be paid by homeowners as far as I can see and not by renters. To me that sounds quite odd.

I'm a homeowner, our property is maybe worth Ä200k and we pay like Ä750-1000/year for all local taxes combined. Some taxes are hidden, for example in the water bill, so this is an estimate.

The landlords aren't eating the taxes. They pass that expense on to renters in the form of higher rent.

Landlords can only raise rent in line with market prices. Property taxes are raised 1200 per year, but you can only rent the property for an additional $50 per month, then yes the landlord would have to eat it. There would be a correlation between property taxes and rental prices, but no, there is no economic law that says that all property tax increases can be passed on to the end consumer.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: slappy on July 17, 2020, 11:51:08 AM
I'm always surprised at how high local taxes are in the US and that they only seem to be paid by homeowners as far as I can see and not by renters. To me that sounds quite odd.

I'm a homeowner, our property is maybe worth Ä200k and we pay like Ä750-1000/year for all local taxes combined. Some taxes are hidden, for example in the water bill, so this is an estimate.

The landlords aren't eating the taxes. They pass that expense on to renters in the form of higher rent.

Landlords can only raise rent in line with market prices. Property taxes are raised 1200 per year, but you can only rent the property for an additional $50 per month, then yes the landlord would have to eat it. There would be a correlation between property taxes and rental prices, but no, there is no economic law that says that all property tax increases can be passed on to the end consumer.

In that situation, wouldn't we eventually end up with a shortage of rentals as landlords find that rental properties are not worth it financially?
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: FIPurpose on July 17, 2020, 02:45:46 PM
I'm always surprised at how high local taxes are in the US and that they only seem to be paid by homeowners as far as I can see and not by renters. To me that sounds quite odd.

I'm a homeowner, our property is maybe worth Ä200k and we pay like Ä750-1000/year for all local taxes combined. Some taxes are hidden, for example in the water bill, so this is an estimate.

The landlords aren't eating the taxes. They pass that expense on to renters in the form of higher rent.

Landlords can only raise rent in line with market prices. Property taxes are raised 1200 per year, but you can only rent the property for an additional $50 per month, then yes the landlord would have to eat it. There would be a correlation between property taxes and rental prices, but no, there is no economic law that says that all property tax increases can be passed on to the end consumer.

In that situation, wouldn't we eventually end up with a shortage of rentals as landlords find that rental properties are not worth it financially?

Could be, then housing prices would drop to the point that more people would buy rather than rent.

At least in the area of the country I'm in, housing prices already make being a landlord a poor investment. Yes, if property taxes go up, and rent stays the same or goes down, then that likely means that home prices are depreciating. (Which would be another way that landlords can "eat it") Usually when property taxes go up, there is some combination of both rent increases and home value depreciation.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: FIPurpose on July 17, 2020, 02:50:10 PM
I'm always surprised at how high local taxes are in the US and that they only seem to be paid by homeowners as far as I can see and not by renters. To me that sounds quite odd.

I'm a homeowner, our property is maybe worth Ä200k and we pay like Ä750-1000/year for all local taxes combined. Some taxes are hidden, for example in the water bill, so this is an estimate.

The landlords aren't eating the taxes. They pass that expense on to renters in the form of higher rent.

Landlords can only raise rent in line with market prices. Property taxes are raised 1200 per year, but you can only rent the property for an additional $50 per month, then yes the landlord would have to eat it. There would be a correlation between property taxes and rental prices, but no, there is no economic law that says that all property tax increases can be passed on to the end consumer.

In that situation, wouldn't we eventually end up with a shortage of rentals as landlords find that rental properties are not worth it financially?

Could be, then housing prices would drop to the point that more people would buy rather than rent.

At least in the area of the country I'm in, housing prices already make being a landlord a poor investment. Yes, if property taxes go up, and rent stays the same or goes down, then that likely means that home prices are depreciating. (Which would be another way that landlords can "eat it") Usually when property taxes go up, there is some combination of both rent increases and home value depreciation.

Here's at least one paper that did a small analysis on property tax rates vs home appreciation:

https://www.aabri.com/manuscripts/182935.pdf (https://www.aabri.com/manuscripts/182935.pdf)
Quote
The initial review of the relationship between property taxes and home price appreciations suggested that states with low property taxes tend to have higher appreciations. Therefore, the researchers tested a secondary question: Do high property tax per capita states have lower home appreciation growth rates, and vice versa? Though one cannot conclude with statistical certainty that this relationship exists, summary statistics support this notion. For example, nine states that had the highest growth rates of property appreciations had low growth rates of property taxes, only three states having the highest growth rates of appreciation also had the highest property taxes.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Adam Zapple on July 17, 2020, 03:02:02 PM
I didn't read all of the replies [...]
Obviously. This topic was beaten to death back on page 3 (https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/in-what-ways-do-you-disagree-with-mmm's-approach/msg2653487/#msg2653487). Short answer is that your logic that you purchasing shares somehow benefits a company is flawed. Even if a very large group of people boycott a stock all it takes is a few wealthy investors without your anti-consumerist concerns to see the potential earnings and bring it back into line with it's actual value based on the performance of the company. Boycott the products, not the stock.

Then I won't beat it anymore other than to say I disagree.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: swashbucklinstache on July 17, 2020, 04:41:01 PM
I agree with an above poster about an increase in capital gains taxes hitting MMM types, perhaps up to 10 million or so in worth, the most. A commonly used approach among say the 15+ crowd is to not ever actually sell the stock anyway. If I have 25 million dollars in stock it's not difficult to, say, get a 2 million dollar loan secured by your portfolio at quite low rates and use that money to both service the loan and pay your living expenses until you die. A process you could repeat if you wanted to spend more money.

I imagine the 100+ crowd & business owners would dodge in even more effective ways.

I suppose there's probably data about who pays CG taxes we could look at, or ask economists to look at.

Here's a place to start if one were so inclined, at least for the < 10 crowd.

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/tags/series?t=capital%3Bgains%2Flosses

https://www.data.gov/
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Bloop Bloop on July 17, 2020, 09:10:32 PM
I dislike the idea of a wealth tax because it's double-taxation (it's already been taxed on the way in as income) but I'm all for a punitive estate tax.

My view is that you shouldn't be able to pass more than a modest amount (like say, $1m?) to your heirs, and anything over that can be taxed at 90% for all I care.

The kids didn't earn shit, so why give them the world? It's not good for anyone involved.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: FIPurpose on July 17, 2020, 10:09:33 PM
I dislike the idea of a wealth tax because it's double-taxation (it's already been taxed on the way in as income) but I'm all for a punitive estate tax.

My view is that you shouldn't be able to pass more than a modest amount (like say, $1m?) to your heirs, and anything over that can be taxed at 90% for all I care.

The kids didn't earn shit, so why give them the world? It's not good for anyone involved.

By that logic sales tax and property tax are double taxation.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Bloop Bloop on July 17, 2020, 10:12:10 PM
I dislike the idea of a wealth tax because it's double-taxation (it's already been taxed on the way in as income) but I'm all for a punitive estate tax.

My view is that you shouldn't be able to pass more than a modest amount (like say, $1m?) to your heirs, and anything over that can be taxed at 90% for all I care.

The kids didn't earn shit, so why give them the world? It's not good for anyone involved.

By that logic sales tax and property tax are double taxation.

Recurring property tax is, yes. I'm not a fan of it.

Stamp duty and sales tax I'm fine with as long as it's in line with the cost of the good.

Technically stamp duty and sales tax are double taxation and property tax is triple.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: mspym on July 17, 2020, 11:39:53 PM
I am a fan of a solid estate tax because it prevents the accumulation of society - distorting wealth*

*mostly, caveat for tech billionaires etc
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Kyle Schuant on July 18, 2020, 02:07:31 AM
I am a fan of a solid estate tax because it prevents the accumulation of society - distorting wealth*
We could simply treat all income as... income. If you get $100,000, whether it be from a salary, from share dividends, from selling a piece of land, or from a $100,000 stamp collection from your uncle Benny's estate, you get taxed on $100,000.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Imma on July 18, 2020, 02:16:59 AM
I'm always surprised at how high local taxes are in the US and that they only seem to be paid by homeowners as far as I can see and not by renters. To me that sounds quite odd.
Why would renters pay property tax? They don't own the property. Though through their rent they are indirectly helping pay the landlord's property tax.

They don't own the property, but they live there. So they are the users of the services that the local authorities are providing. It wouldn't be fair if all the local services were paid for by the half of the people who own their homes and the renters wouldn't have to pay for thrash pick-up, sewage, dump, water etc.

In my country users and owners are taxed seperately, so if you are living in a property you also own, you have to pay two tax bills: user taxes and owner taxes.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Monkey Uncle on July 18, 2020, 05:13:35 AM
I am a fan of a solid estate tax because it prevents the accumulation of society - distorting wealth*
We could simply treat all income as... income. If you get $100,000, whether it be from a salary, from share dividends, from selling a piece of land, or from a $100,000 stamp collection from your uncle Benny's estate, you get taxed on $100,000.

Yes.

In a perfect world, there would only be one kind of tax.  Either a tax on ALL forms of income, as you state.  All money coming in from whatever source gets taxed as ordinary income.  Tax brackets would be progressive, as they are now, though rates obviously would have to be much higher to make up for the loss of revenue from all the other taxes that would be eliminated.

Alternatively, we could tax ALL forms of consumption (with no other kinds of taxes).  Basically a great big sales tax.  Everyone pays the same rate on everything they buy.  This would be more regressive than a progressive income tax, but would still be progressive to an extent, because wealthier people generally spend more than poor people.  Another positive feature is that the tax burden falls heaviest on those who consume the most, which loosely correlates to those who are putting the most burden on society.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: RWD on July 18, 2020, 07:30:37 AM
I'm always surprised at how high local taxes are in the US and that they only seem to be paid by homeowners as far as I can see and not by renters. To me that sounds quite odd.
Why would renters pay property tax? They don't own the property. Though through their rent they are indirectly helping pay the landlord's property tax.

They don't own the property, but they live there. So they are the users of the services that the local authorities are providing. It wouldn't be fair if all the local services were paid for by the half of the people who own their homes and the renters wouldn't have to pay for thrash pick-up, sewage, dump, water etc.

In my country users and owners are taxed seperately, so if you are living in a property you also own, you have to pay two tax bills: user taxes and owner taxes.

Over here [in the US] property taxes don't typically cover trash pick-up, water/sewer, etc. Those are covered by the renter as utilities. Sometimes they are included as part of the cost of rent but that is up to the landlord. For services not paid as utilities, again, they are indirectly covered through rent. Money is fungible, after all.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Kyle Schuant on July 18, 2020, 09:17:00 AM
In a perfect world, there would only be one kind of tax.  Either a tax on ALL forms of income, as you state.  All money coming in from whatever source gets taxed as ordinary income.  Tax brackets would be progressive, as they are now, though rates obviously would have to be much higher to make up for the loss of revenue from all the other taxes that would be eliminated.
Or just eliminate all deductions, and you wouldn't have to change tax brackets at all - this would deal with the millionaires who pay no tax (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-18/tax-stats-2017-18-ato-millionaires-no-tax/12467016?nw=0), and would grab a fair chunk of cash from the rest of us.

If you think the spending will benefit you, then you spend it. But you don't get to charge it to the public purse, even partially.


Of course, this will never happen. The reason Australia (for example) has 6,000 pages of income tax legislation is that at some point someone had their hand out, and someone else thought maybe if they filled that hand with cash, that person would vote for them; repeat this process a lot of times and it's trivial to get to thousands of pages. Ten or twenty years on both the voter and the MP have forgotten all about the exchange, but the budgetary hole remains there below the waterline, letting water into the ship of state. With enough holes you look around to find you're always in deficit and the ship is sinking.


The system is supposed to be complex and allow rorts. If it wasn't then this sort of thing couldn't happen.


https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-bankruptcy-bonuses/on-eve-of-bankruptcy-u-s-firms-shower-execs-with-bonuses-idUSKCN24I1EE
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: FIPurpose on July 18, 2020, 09:21:59 AM
In a perfect world, there would only be one kind of tax.  Either a tax on ALL forms of income, as you state.  All money coming in from whatever source gets taxed as ordinary income.  Tax brackets would be progressive, as they are now, though rates obviously would have to be much higher to make up for the loss of revenue from all the other taxes that would be eliminated.
Or just eliminate all deductions, and you wouldn't have to change tax brackets at all - this would deal with the millionaires who pay no tax (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-18/tax-stats-2017-18-ato-millionaires-no-tax/12467016?nw=0), and would grab a fair chunk of cash from the rest of us.

If you think the spending will benefit you, then you spend it. But you don't get to charge it to the public purse, even partially.


Of course, this will never happen. The reason Australia (for example) has 6,000 pages of income tax legislation is that at some point someone had their hand out, and someone else thought maybe if they filled that hand with cash, that person would vote for them; repeat this process a lot of times and it's trivial to get to thousands of pages. Ten or twenty years on both the voter and the MP have forgotten all about the exchange, but the budgetary hole remains there below the waterline, letting water into the ship of state. With enough holes you look around to find you're always in deficit and the ship is sinking.


The system is supposed to be complex and allow rorts. If it wasn't then this sort of thing couldn't happen.


https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-bankruptcy-bonuses/on-eve-of-bankruptcy-u-s-firms-shower-execs-with-bonuses-idUSKCN24I1EE

'rort': huh, that's a new word to me :p
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Cranky on July 18, 2020, 04:08:26 PM
I'm always surprised at how high local taxes are in the US and that they only seem to be paid by homeowners as far as I can see and not by renters. To me that sounds quite odd.
Why would renters pay property tax? They don't own the property. Though through their rent they are indirectly helping pay the landlord's property tax.

It depends on where you are. In some states landlords are required to pay the water bill, and trash pickup is a city service, not something you pay separately.

When we lived in Michigan, in what was surely the worldís worst apartment, we got a state tax rebate every year on the amount of property tax we ďpaidĒ in our rent because we were low income.

They don't own the property, but they live there. So they are the users of the services that the local authorities are providing. It wouldn't be fair if all the local services were paid for by the half of the people who own their homes and the renters wouldn't have to pay for thrash pick-up, sewage, dump, water etc.

In my country users and owners are taxed seperately, so if you are living in a property you also own, you have to pay two tax bills: user taxes and owner taxes.

Over here [in the US] property taxes don't typically cover trash pick-up, water/sewer, etc. Those are covered by the renter as utilities. Sometimes they are included as part of the cost of rent but that is up to the landlord. For services not paid as utilities, again, they are indirectly covered through rent. Money is fungible, after all.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: RWD on July 18, 2020, 06:17:19 PM
I'm always surprised at how high local taxes are in the US and that they only seem to be paid by homeowners as far as I can see and not by renters. To me that sounds quite odd.
Why would renters pay property tax? They don't own the property. Though through their rent they are indirectly helping pay the landlord's property tax.

They don't own the property, but they live there. So they are the users of the services that the local authorities are providing. It wouldn't be fair if all the local services were paid for by the half of the people who own their homes and the renters wouldn't have to pay for thrash pick-up, sewage, dump, water etc.

In my country users and owners are taxed seperately, so if you are living in a property you also own, you have to pay two tax bills: user taxes and owner taxes.

Over here [in the US] property taxes don't typically cover trash pick-up, water/sewer, etc. Those are covered by the renter as utilities. Sometimes they are included as part of the cost of rent but that is up to the landlord. For services not paid as utilities, again, they are indirectly covered through rent. Money is fungible, after all.

It depends on where you are. In some states landlords are required to pay the water bill, and trash pickup is a city service, not something you pay separately.

When we lived in Michigan, in what was surely the worldís worst apartment, we got a state tax rebate every year on the amount of property tax we ďpaidĒ in our rent because we were low income.

*quote fixed*

Interesting, I was not aware of that (and I've rented in three different states).
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: sherr on July 19, 2020, 07:38:09 PM
Alternatively, we could tax ALL forms of consumption (with no other kinds of taxes).  Basically a great big sales tax.  Everyone pays the same rate on everything they buy.  This would be more regressive than a progressive income tax, but would still be progressive to an extent, because wealthier people generally spend more than poor people.  Another positive feature is that the tax burden falls heaviest on those who consume the most, which loosely correlates to those who are putting the most burden on society.

It doesn't have to be regressive. You can for example tax yachts at 1000% and bread at 0%. And we do that already to some extent in the US, but yes it's not as easy as just declaring brackets for income tax and calling it a day.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: DadJokes on July 20, 2020, 06:11:08 AM
Alternatively, we could tax ALL forms of consumption (with no other kinds of taxes).  Basically a great big sales tax.  Everyone pays the same rate on everything they buy.  This would be more regressive than a progressive income tax, but would still be progressive to an extent, because wealthier people generally spend more than poor people.  Another positive feature is that the tax burden falls heaviest on those who consume the most, which loosely correlates to those who are putting the most burden on society.

It doesn't have to be regressive. You can for example tax yachts at 1000% and bread at 0%. And we do that already to some extent in the US, but yes it's not as easy as just declaring brackets for income tax and calling it a day.

We're way off topic, but I like this discussion a lot more.

To make the tax less regressive, there are two options that I can think of:

1) Tax some items at different rates, as you suggested. I know Texas does this. Items deemed "essential" are not taxed. But you could also go in the other direction, as you suggested, and also have an increased rate on higher end luxuries. The downside to this is that taxing items at different rates leaves open room for lobbying to get preferential rates for various things.

2) There was a proposal a decade or so ago called the FairTax. Its solution to the regressive nature of a sales tax was a "prebate." Every adult would get a set credit every year, designed to offset the cost of necessities. The prebate would be fixed to some index (probably related to the poverty level). I'm guessing that would benefit people in LCOL a lot more than HCOL.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Kyle Schuant on July 20, 2020, 07:22:56 PM
The idea starts off simple, then people say, "yeah but what about... and it's not fair that..." and the list of exceptions grows, and then there are exceptions to the exceptions and special rules for this and that, then the government changes and another bunch of people appear with their hands out, and... :)

And now you see why Australia's income tax legislation is 6,000 pages.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Reynold on September 22, 2020, 12:39:39 PM
Firstly, I agree that skipping health insurance in the U.S. is dangerous.  Like others who have posted here, I have had personal and relatives/friends experience with unexpected large medical expenses in otherwise healthy people.  An additional factor which folks outside the U.S. are probably not aware of is that insurance companies here have negotiated rates for medical expenses that you don't get as a private individual.  Thus, for say a dislocated kneecap, for imaging, doctors visits, physical therapy, etc. the medical system may bill $20,000, but if all the work is "in network" the insurance company may only have to pay $5000.  If you don't have insurance, the medical system will want the full $20k.  Sometimes they will negotiate lower rates with you on a case-by-case basis, but you can't count on it, and it will take a lot of time and arguing.  To be fair to him, I don't think he said everyone should do that, it is just a risk he is willing to take. 

The other thing he recommends that I'm wary of is some of the more difficult/dangerous contracting work he does on his own home.  While I wouldn't mind knowing how to replace my own roof in a theoretical sense, I would rather not do it.  I have one friend who died falling off a roof doing his own work, and another (a contractor) who broke an arm doing a roof replacement.  I would rather pay someone to replace the roof, and instead learn to do my own taxes, which will pay "dividends" every year for my entire life, won't get me injured, and which he outsources. 

Part of how I approach the "do it yourself" versus "outsource" is how many times I will need to do it.  I've had pros do my taxes a few times when it was more complex, and I was dealing with things I wouldn't need to do often, and I studied their results to make sure I wasn't missing anything when doing it myself.  I may need a new roof twice in my life, I'll pay someone for it, and I expect a warrantee with the work.  I'll need to replace a lot of outlets and light fixtures in places I live, and in my previous work I worked with up to 440V/30A circuits, so I'm comfortable doing that myself.  For some small jobs, its actually more of a pain to find someone to do it than do it yourself. 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: LWYRUP on September 22, 2020, 01:16:59 PM
The main thing I dislike about MMM is the lack of offense; everything seems to be about playing defense.

Learning how to live within one's means, in my opinion, is level 1 of wealth knowledge. Yes, being frugal is good. Yes, investing is good. But what about income growth?

Some people want to do more and get more out of life. You can apply MMM principles to a $1 million income and end up in a whole different world. Or you could sell a business or other assets then use that money to fund your investments, skipping ahead or living frugally but at a much more comfortable level - it's possible.

In fact, MMM is doing this. He is not just a worker who is frugal - he's an entrepreneur. Look at this very website!

Anyway, I think that's a huge disparity between practicing/preaching.

I have always felt wealth building is a combination of three things:

1.  Offense (income)
2.  Defense (expenses)
3.  Special Teams (investment returns)

The more each of these elements work together, the easier the path to FIRE will be. 

I think the focus on defense is useful because there are no end of people who will stress the importance of #1 but who then spend up to their income.  And if you can't save, then #3 is moot. 

But the point is taken that for many a boost in income could be quite useful. 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Zikoris on September 22, 2020, 02:23:32 PM
The main thing I dislike about MMM is the lack of offense; everything seems to be about playing defense.

Learning how to live within one's means, in my opinion, is level 1 of wealth knowledge. Yes, being frugal is good. Yes, investing is good. But what about income growth?

Some people want to do more and get more out of life. You can apply MMM principles to a $1 million income and end up in a whole different world. Or you could sell a business or other assets then use that money to fund your investments, skipping ahead or living frugally but at a much more comfortable level - it's possible.

In fact, MMM is doing this. He is not just a worker who is frugal - he's an entrepreneur. Look at this very website!

Anyway, I think that's a huge disparity between practicing/preaching.

Keep in mind that his goal is so get people to reduce their consumption for environmental reasons. Keeping consumption/spending the same while building wealth in other ways would be totally against his beliefs. Anything other than telling people to spend less would dilute the environmental message, which would be directly counterproductive to his goals.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Bloop Bloop on September 22, 2020, 02:58:19 PM
The main thing I dislike about MMM is the lack of offense; everything seems to be about playing defense.

Learning how to live within one's means, in my opinion, is level 1 of wealth knowledge. Yes, being frugal is good. Yes, investing is good. But what about income growth?

Some people want to do more and get more out of life. You can apply MMM principles to a $1 million income and end up in a whole different world. Or you could sell a business or other assets then use that money to fund your investments, skipping ahead or living frugally but at a much more comfortable level - it's possible.

In fact, MMM is doing this. He is not just a worker who is frugal - he's an entrepreneur. Look at this very website!

Anyway, I think that's a huge disparity between practicing/preaching.

I have always felt wealth building is a combination of three things:

1.  Offense (income)
2.  Defense (expenses)
3.  Special Teams (investment returns)

The more each of these elements work together, the easier the path to FIRE will be. 

I think the focus on defense is useful because there are no end of people who will stress the importance of #1 but who then spend up to their income.  And if you can't save, then #3 is moot. 

But the point is taken that for many a boost in income could be quite useful.

I agree the lack of focus on offence is rather troubling. I think this is because there is some sort of assumption that increasing income must lead to an increase in spending. The two are, of course, independent. And even if say a 100% increase in income led to a 20% increase in spending, you'd still FIRE much earlier in the long run.

Overall I'd say MMM doesn't really go into detail about 'offence'. I guess it's because each niche has its own special rules. As a white collar professional I've found the best way to enhance offence is to get good at what I do, and then use that extra bargaining power to increase my fees and turn down jobs I don't like on a fairly capricious basis. This means I can work fewer/equal hours for more pay, compared to someone else with a bit less skill in the industry. I think this course is available to everyone who works in a money-driven industry. For example if you're a doctor you can do the same, if you work in private (or even if you work in public you can try to get better on-call shifts or rosters etc)

I feel like the lack of discussion of offensive optimising comes from some sort of belief that it always has to entail more time at work (it doesn't) or that it always entails some increase in spending (it doesn't; contrary to popular belief, earning a higher hourly rate doesn't mean you have to go out and buy a fancy suit).
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: marty998 on September 22, 2020, 03:11:44 PM
The main thing I dislike about MMM is the lack of offense; everything seems to be about playing defense.

Learning how to live within one's means, in my opinion, is level 1 of wealth knowledge. Yes, being frugal is good. Yes, investing is good. But what about income growth?

Some people want to do more and get more out of life. You can apply MMM principles to a $1 million income and end up in a whole different world. Or you could sell a business or other assets then use that money to fund your investments, skipping ahead or living frugally but at a much more comfortable level - it's possible.

In fact, MMM is doing this. He is not just a worker who is frugal - he's an entrepreneur. Look at this very website!

Anyway, I think that's a huge disparity between practicing/preaching.

I have always felt wealth building is a combination of three things:

1.  Offense (income)
2.  Defense (expenses)
3.  Special Teams (investment returns)

The more each of these elements work together, the easier the path to FIRE will be. 

I think the focus on defense is useful because there are no end of people who will stress the importance of #1 but who then spend up to their income.  And if you can't save, then #3 is moot. 

But the point is taken that for many a boost in income could be quite useful.

I agree the lack of focus on offence is rather troubling. I think this is because there is some sort of assumption that increasing income must lead to an increase in spending. The two are, of course, independent. And even if say a 100% increase in income led to a 20% increase in spending, you'd still FIRE much earlier in the long run.

Overall I'd say MMM doesn't really go into detail about 'offence'. I guess it's because each niche has its own special rules. As a white collar professional I've found the best way to enhance offence is to get good at what I do, and then use that extra bargaining power to increase my fees and turn down jobs I don't like on a fairly capricious basis. This means I can work fewer/equal hours for more pay, compared to someone else with a bit less skill in the industry. I think this course is available to everyone who works in a money-driven industry. For example if you're a doctor you can do the same, if you work in private (or even if you work in public you can try to get better on-call shifts or rosters etc)

I feel like the lack of discussion of offensive optimising comes from some sort of belief that it always has to entail more time at work (it doesn't) or that it always entails some increase in spending (it doesn't; contrary to popular belief, earning a higher hourly rate doesn't mean you have to go out and buy a fancy suit).

You canít expect the blog to be all things to all people.

MMM for better or worse points out savings rate is what matters. How you choose to get to the savings rate you need is up to you (numerator or denominator).

Increasing income is (mostly) something that has to be done over time... months even years.

Cutting spending and wasteful consumption can be immediate, and immediately pays dividends to both your finances, the environment, and even your health.

So I can see why there is a focus on one and not the other.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Bloop Bloop on September 22, 2020, 04:07:18 PM
Quote
earn as much as you can, but never sacrifice your soul to do it.

I find the allusion to 'sacrificing your soul' a moralistic one, and one that again implies that high earning is something to be tolerated at best instead of lauded and worked on assiduously over time. I might have agreed with the overall gist of the quote if MMM didn't complement it with his stated cap of around $100,000 per person per year which only works in the context that he put it ("the time to financial independence becomes so short...") if you are going to rely on consistently high returns, or if you can tolerate a 4% SWR. For example, I use a 2.5% SWR not a 4% SWR because I am conservative by nature, and so for me an income cap of $100k per year (which would be $80k a year after taxes) would get me nowhere near my goal.

MMM also seems to have a much higher ceiling in terms of advocating for various modes of frugality than he does for increasing income. That is to say, he advocates we do everything we can (subject to cost/benefit analysis) to cut down spending, but is more lukewarm about doing everything we can (subject to cost/benefit analysis) to increase earnings. I think this is because MMM has an anti-consumerist bent. That's fine for him to have, but it's one point on which I don't agree with his approach. I am neither pro- nor anti-consumption.

Finally, while it's true that reducing spending has a doubly positive effect (it increases savings rate and decreases total amount needed to FIRE), it also requires double effort - you have to keep with the reduced spending both now and in retirement. Some forms of reduced spending, like cutting your energy bill by turning off unused appliances or improving your mortgage rate, require no effort at all. But other forms, like biking to work instead of driving or doing DIY jobs instead of hiring others, require some physical effort; and your willingness or ability to do that depends on the integrity of your body as well as your reservoir of willpower.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: marty998 on September 22, 2020, 04:33:17 PM
Some forms of reduced spending, like cutting your energy bill by turning off unused appliances or improving your mortgage rate, require no effort at all. But other forms, like biking to work instead of driving or doing DIY jobs instead of hiring others, require some physical effort; and your willingness or ability to do that depends on the integrity of your body as well as your reservoir of willpower.

This is kinda the point of MMM. Make yourself more badass, improve your physical health by exerting physical effort, engage in DIY projects to improve your personal skills and abilities, and improve your willpower so you can engage in more of this.

MMM is not about the quickest way to FIRE.

FIRE is half the story, and possibly the less important half.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Raenia on September 23, 2020, 06:46:45 AM
Lol I am such a noob to this forum, I wish I knew how to reply to individual posts. Would be good if we could "like" posts too.

In the upper right-hand corner of the post you wish to reply to, there is a button for "Quote."  Click that.  If you wish to reply to multiple people in the same post, "Quote" the first one, then in your reply you can scroll down, find the next post you wish to reply to, and click "Insert Quote" at the upper right of that post.

Enjoy :)

ETA: I see you found it!
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: DadJokes on September 23, 2020, 10:30:18 AM
Quote
earn as much as you can, but never sacrifice your soul to do it.

I find the allusion to 'sacrificing your soul' a moralistic one, and one that again implies that high earning is something to be tolerated at best instead of lauded and worked on assiduously over time.

I don't think he's saying that earning more money is evil. I think he's saying that working in a job you hate just to earn more will drain your soul.

If someone made $200k per year doing work that makes them happy, he would probably encourage it.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: talltexan on September 23, 2020, 01:27:47 PM
Quote
earn as much as you can, but never sacrifice your soul to do it.

MMM also seems to have a much higher ceiling in terms of advocating for various modes of frugality than he does for increasing income. That is to say, he advocates we do everything we can (subject to cost/benefit analysis) to cut down spending, but is more lukewarm about doing everything we can (subject to cost/benefit analysis) to increase earnings. I think this is because MMM has an anti-consumerist bent. That's fine for him to have, but it's one point on which I don't agree with his approach. I am neither pro- nor anti-consumption.


What would you say are the two extreme ends of the scale, then? I see total self-sufficiency as one end (in which case MMMs move to abandon health insurance and become "self-insured" carries a moral value, and I see total outsourcing at the other end.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: slappy on September 23, 2020, 02:28:02 PM
In terms of earning more, I think it makes sense to remember that many people out there claim that FIRE is a rich person's game. By focusing on frugality, you can set the tone that it's achievable for just about anyone, subject to how low they can get their expenses. 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Bloop Bloop on September 23, 2020, 03:31:28 PM
Some forms of reduced spending, like cutting your energy bill by turning off unused appliances or improving your mortgage rate, require no effort at all. But other forms, like biking to work instead of driving or doing DIY jobs instead of hiring others, require some physical effort; and your willingness or ability to do that depends on the integrity of your body as well as your reservoir of willpower.

This is kinda the point of MMM. Make yourself more badass, improve your physical health by exerting physical effort, engage in DIY projects to improve your personal skills and abilities, and improve your willpower so you can engage in more of this.

MMM is not about the quickest way to FIRE.

FIRE is half the story, and possibly the less important half.

I guess I'm the polar opposite to MMM then. I have no interest in being badass at all. I care about physical health but I'm happier exercising at the gym or by doing jogs (I feel both forms of exercise are more efficient for muscle/cardio) than incorporating a lot of physical tasks into daily life. Each to his own, I guess.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Bloop Bloop on September 23, 2020, 03:35:54 PM
Quote
earn as much as you can, but never sacrifice your soul to do it.

I find the allusion to 'sacrificing your soul' a moralistic one, and one that again implies that high earning is something to be tolerated at best instead of lauded and worked on assiduously over time.

I don't think he's saying that earning more money is evil. I think he's saying that working in a job you hate just to earn more will drain your soul.

If someone made $200k per year doing work that makes them happy, he would probably encourage it.

Yeah, but the 'sacrificing your soul' line carries a connotation that a higher earning job might all things being equal be less satisfying or less productive of happiness than a lower earning job, and I'm not sure there's any such correlation.

Quote
earn as much as you can, but never sacrifice your soul to do it.

MMM also seems to have a much higher ceiling in terms of advocating for various modes of frugality than he does for increasing income. That is to say, he advocates we do everything we can (subject to cost/benefit analysis) to cut down spending, but is more lukewarm about doing everything we can (subject to cost/benefit analysis) to increase earnings. I think this is because MMM has an anti-consumerist bent. That's fine for him to have, but it's one point on which I don't agree with his approach. I am neither pro- nor anti-consumption.


What would you say are the two extreme ends of the scale, then? I see total self-sufficiency as one end (in which case MMMs move to abandon health insurance and become "self-insured" carries a moral value, and I see total outsourcing at the other end.

The extreme end of the "increase earnings" scale would be to focus heavily on education or entrepreneurism, change jobs quite a lot to get promotions, outsource most menial tasks and other unpleasant tasks that are significantly below your hourly rate, etc
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Zikoris on September 23, 2020, 03:49:20 PM
I guess I'm the polar opposite to MMM then. I have no interest in being badass at all. I care about physical health but I'm happier exercising at the gym or by doing jogs (I feel both forms of exercise are more efficient for muscle/cardio) than incorporating a lot of physical tasks into daily life. Each to his own, I guess.

Yes, that's definitely the opposite. "Financial freedom through badassity" is literally the motto and right on the heading. The concept of MMM is basically that the typical western lifestyle is an exploding volcano of wastefulness that's killing us all through overconsumption, and also making us weak and flabby due to lack of activity in day to day life (driving, etc). He's been pretty open about the fact that the financial benefits - namely FIRE - are a natural side effect of living the type of lifestyle that's healthy, self-sufficient-leaning, low consumption, and large-scale sustainable.

The key difference between MMM and other philosophies in the FIRE sphere is that his has basically nothing to do with money and everything to do with lifestyle, health, happiness, and environmentalism.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on September 24, 2020, 11:46:04 AM
Necropost - but in this case reviewing the old and new responses has provided some insight ...

For many, their core criticism of MMMís approach is that he emphasizes what they find less important or more difficult too much and doesnít emphasize aspect(s) that the poster finds more important (and not coincidentally easier for that poster)

Take the discussion about increasing salary vs decreasing expenses as one example. Clearly he has done both in a variety of posts, as others have pointed out. But oneís perception of whether he is leaning too heavily in one particular direction is a sort of confirmation bias. If you think increasing your income is easier and ultimately a more productive use of your time than trimming expenses, you view MMM as too focused on the fat-trimming. Others have come to the opposite conclusion, complaining that he spends too much digital ink on high-income case studies and is too frivolous with his spending.

Pete - another Rorschach test 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: John Galt incarnate! on September 24, 2020, 02:30:23 PM




You've got it backwards. Maybe others see differently than I, but I would like to read how to do things that I find difficult... Not read things that I find easy.

Being frugal is easy...it's simple...anyone can do it... Maybe that's why this blog is so popular.

Increasing income (like really increasing it, not just getting a $1/hour raise) is hard. Entrepreneurship is hard. Hiring people is hard. MMM does these things.

So, I guess my standing is that... There's more to learn after you've been beat over the head with frugality and index funds. Yes...those things are very simple.

At first I read this blog to see "how do I get a fat 'stache?" Now that that's squared away...how do I make it faster? But that is forbidden knowledge! Or it's "bad." Why? Lol


One's best approach to Mu$tachiani$m  is choosing the mix of exertion and frugality that maximizes their satisfaction, a mix that will vary to great degree among Mu$tachian$.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Sandi_k on September 24, 2020, 07:31:22 PM
I disagree on a couple of things:

- I will have a commute. Living in a VHCOL area, I *increased* my commute to be happier with where I lived. Pre-Covid, I was commuting ~ 100 miles RT each day. But I only do it 4x per week, and I live in a beautiful home in a lovely area that is more rural, has farm stands, and has access to water for our boating hobbies.

- I prefer to freeze our expenses while increasing our income. I've increased my income by nearly 75% since 2011. It means that we'll have a FATFire lifestyle, when I retire in 2025.

- I prefer to work a little longer, rather than RE too early. I'll be 60. But the pension multiplier REALLY hits its max at age 60, which will garner an additional $12k per year for every year between now and 2025. So staying 5 years gets me an extra $60k per year in my pension. Could I retire now? Maybe. But RE isn't as important as a solid pension with a COLA in retirement, with 100% survivor benefits for DH.

I still find his Stoicism to be inspirational, and I like the community he has fostered here. So while I am not the most Mustachian of Mustachians, I'm glad to be here and learn.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: talltexan on September 25, 2020, 10:55:04 AM
I'll acknowledge myself to be "half-ass" more than I am "bad ass".

My savings rate has gone way up during the last six months, but I'm becoming well aware of the emotional costs of having my MiL substitute for paid childcare. I don't think anyone wants the next six months to continue the way the last six did.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: ender on September 27, 2020, 07:49:31 AM
You've got it backwards. Maybe others see differently than I, but I would like to read how to do things that I find difficult... Not read things that I find easy.

Being frugal is easy...it's simple...anyone can do it... Maybe that's why this blog is so popular.

Increasing income (like really increasing it, not just getting a $1/hour raise) is hard. Entrepreneurship is hard. Hiring people is hard. MMM does these things.

So, I guess my standing is that... There's more to learn after you've been beat over the head with frugality and index funds. Yes...those things are very simple.

At first I read this blog to see "how do I get a fat 'stache?" Now that that's squared away...how do I make it faster? But that is forbidden knowledge! Or it's "bad." Why? Lol

I'm not really sure the general state of the American consumeristic culture would agree that being frugal is easy.

Consider how much money gets spent encouraging us to buy new things vs how much gets spent encouraging us to be content, spend less, etc.

Personally, I think you really ought to do both. Increasing your income while decreasing spending. Each side of that will come easier for folks depending on their personality and general spending. If you spend $80k a year it's a lot easier to decrease spending than if you spend $20k/year.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on September 27, 2020, 09:22:05 AM
You've got it backwards. Maybe others see differently than I, but I would like to read how to do things that I find difficult... Not read things that I find easy.

Being frugal is easy...it's simple...anyone can do it... Maybe that's why this blog is so popular.

Increasing income (like really increasing it, not just getting a $1/hour raise) is hard. Entrepreneurship is hard. Hiring people is hard. MMM does these things.

So, I guess my standing is that... There's more to learn after you've been beat over the head with frugality and index funds. Yes...those things are very simple.

At first I read this blog to see "how do I get a fat 'stache?" Now that that's squared away...how do I make it faster? But that is forbidden knowledge! Or it's "bad." Why? Lol

I'm not really sure the general state of the American consumeristic culture would agree that being frugal is easy.

Consider how much money gets spent encouraging us to buy new things vs how much gets spent encouraging us to be content, spend less, etc.

Personally, I think you really ought to do both. Increasing your income while decreasing spending. Each side of that will come easier for folks depending on their personality and general spending. If you spend $80k a year it's a lot easier to decrease spending than if you spend $20k/year.

In a way this illustrated my point.
Some on this very forum have argued that increasing income should be the primary strategy, and for them adding another $10-50k per year isnít a challenge. MMM himself has highlighted how to earn over $100k in a number of posts. For others being frugal is the easy part, increasing income substantially is hard. Neither is wrong - but it colors our world view, including which aspects of achieving FIRE is emphasized ďtoo muchĒ

Another topic of intense disagreement is with the focus on environmental sustainability. Some are genuinely surprised to learn there is even a core focus on being ďgreenĒ or find his approach to be extreme, while others find Pete to be hypocritical in this area. Where you fall seems to depends a great deal on your own life and experiences.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: TomTX on September 27, 2020, 10:19:41 AM
If you switch from index funds to active investments, I imagine there's a whole menu of environmentally responsible investment options.

Or just switch to the Vanguard ESG funds/ETFs. I'm in ESGV and VSGX.

The mutual fund has a longer history than the ETF, if you run the comparison of the ESG fund against the base index, the ESG mutual fund beats it at 1, 3, 5 and 10 years. Just like it did last September when I ran the numbers.

https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/investor-alley/are-index-funds-unethical/msg2464669/#msg2464669

Both more responsible investing and a (likely) higher return.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: TomTX on September 27, 2020, 11:06:35 AM
One thing I was thinking about today is that I think MMM actually under-emphasises the importance of choosing your partner and friends carefully. You can't choose family, but you can choose partner and friends, and doing your best to surround yourself with people with positive traits (intelligent, thoughtful, prudent, self-directed) will lead to passive gains as much as any material investment will.

You can't choose family, but you can choose how much interaction you have with them and to some extent the parameters of those interactions.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: ender on September 27, 2020, 09:21:42 PM
One thing I was thinking about today is that I think MMM actually under-emphasises the importance of choosing your partner and friends carefully. You can't choose family, but you can choose partner and friends, and doing your best to surround yourself with people with positive traits (intelligent, thoughtful, prudent, self-directed) will lead to passive gains as much as any material investment will.

You can't choose family, but you can choose how much interaction you have with them and to some extent the parameters of those interactions.

Well, you can't choose your family.

You absolutely choose the family of those you are around, including your partner.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Bloop Bloop on September 27, 2020, 09:42:59 PM
I'm surprised MMM doesn't go into greater emphasis on choosing your partner, encouraging healthy lifestyles for yourself and your partner, considerations around antenatal planning and screening, etc etc

For all the effort we each put into investment, saving, frugality, ... your partner will have exactly the same influence as you do. You're a team. It makes sense to work on the teamwork aspect.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: EscapeVelocity2020 on September 27, 2020, 10:02:23 PM
I'm surprised MMM doesn't go into greater emphasis on choosing your partner, encouraging healthy lifestyles for yourself and your partner, considerations around antenatal planning and screening, etc etc

For all the effort we each put into investment, saving, frugality, ... your partner will have exactly the same influence as you do. You're a team. It makes sense to work on the teamwork aspect.

I'm sure, if anyone were to do a financial forensic analysis on MMM, they would see that his divorce cost him significantly more than all the careful savings he made when he spends $25 - 40k/yr.  Not sure what his net worth was after FI and several years owning a financial blog making $400k/yr, but half of that was at least $2.5million ((1M NW + (400kx10))/2)... quite possibly a lot more...  at his claimed $25k/yr spend, $2.5M in index funds would throw off $75k/yr extra indefinitely... 

TL;DR - Divorces are crazy expensive, and surely the most expensive thing MMM actively did.  Quitting one's job is just foregoing future income, but divorce costs real money.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Bloop Bloop on September 28, 2020, 12:31:56 AM
And of course not all divorces or separations can be avoided or forestalled, but couples' counselling, courses on non-violent communication, courses on empathy, careful consideration of who you shack up with (and have kids with), antenatal planning - all this stuff is pretty important and not particularly expensive. I think this sort of lifestyle/communication legwork does not get enough emphasis in the FIRE community. It's important that your partner is compatible with your financial goals but it's way more important that your partner is someone who is compatible with your life goals, your communication style and also your standards (whatever those might be) for intelligence, prudence, kindness, etc.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Kyle Schuant on September 28, 2020, 12:32:50 AM
For all the effort we each put into investment, saving, frugality, ... your partner will have exactly the same influence as you do. You're a team. It makes sense to work on the teamwork aspect.
This is one thing I like about Scott Pape's approach, with the monthly "financial date night." You sit down and discuss your finances and what you'd like to achieve. This of course is going to lead to some useful conversations about goals and values and lifestyles and all that.

I'd had a friend who had marriage troubles. They belatedly did a questionnaire which apparently is common in their church, going through with questions like "whose jobs is it to do the dishes? the husband, the wife, or both?" and so on through all the everyday tasks of a household. The point was not that the man or woman should do each thing, but that they should agree on it, more or less - if each thinks it's the other's job, there's trouble, if each thinks it's their own job, that could be trouble, too. The counsellor said that their responses were the lowest compatibility of anyone they'd ever seen who actually ended up getting married.

Such a series of questions could be a good start to a relationship, even if a bit depressingly mundane. The couple's divorced now - they left it too late to have those conversations. One child.


Often when a person pushes hard in one area of their life they sacrifice another. It's a pity.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Imma on September 28, 2020, 01:54:14 AM
I'm surprised MMM doesn't go into greater emphasis on choosing your partner, encouraging healthy lifestyles for yourself and your partner, considerations around antenatal planning and screening, etc etc

For all the effort we each put into investment, saving, frugality, ... your partner will have exactly the same influence as you do. You're a team. It makes sense to work on the teamwork aspect.

Actually he discusses this topic quite a lot, including as far as I remember several articles about why he and Mrs MMM decided to only have one child.

I also really dislike the language of "he" lost some money in the divorce. Him and Mrs MMM both worked hard, invested money, FIRE'd together. Eventually they divorced. They both "lost" money if you want to frame it like that, but actually they each just walked away with their fair share of the proceeds of their marriage. And I think they are both still FIRE'd and have side hustles.

As a woman, every time a guy complains to me he lost money in the divorce I think in the back of my head "she's right to divorce you if you really thought all the money belonged to you, the Head of the Household." The 1950s are over people.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Bloop Bloop on September 28, 2020, 03:09:18 AM
I'm surprised MMM doesn't go into greater emphasis on choosing your partner, encouraging healthy lifestyles for yourself and your partner, considerations around antenatal planning and screening, etc etc

For all the effort we each put into investment, saving, frugality, ... your partner will have exactly the same influence as you do. You're a team. It makes sense to work on the teamwork aspect.

Actually he discusses this topic quite a lot, including as far as I remember several articles about why he and Mrs MMM decided to only have one child.

I also really dislike the language of "he" lost some money in the divorce. Him and Mrs MMM both worked hard, invested money, FIRE'd together. Eventually they divorced. They both "lost" money if you want to frame it like that, but actually they each just walked away with their fair share of the proceeds of their marriage. And I think they are both still FIRE'd and have side hustles.

As a woman, every time a guy complains to me he lost money in the divorce I think in the back of my head "she's right to divorce you if you really thought all the money belonged to you, the Head of the Household." The 1950s are over people.

I haven't read all the MMM articles, but the impression I get is quite different. For example, this blog post is entitled Selling the Dream: How to Make Your Spouse Love Frugality.

https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/03/22/selling-the-dream-how-to-make-your-spouse-love-frugality/

I can allow for a bit of poetic/advertorial licence, but really, you shouldn't be "making" your spouse like, let alone love, anything. A good partnership is between two equals. In an ideal relationship your spouse should naturally gravitate towards a similar mindset towards spending/saving as yourself. To illustrate how strained MMM's notion is, imagine if the headline read, "How to Make Your Spouse Love Earning More in His/Her Job." It can be done, but it's not really something you "make", more so something that relates to a set of qualities (intelligence, prudence, whatever) that you seek in a likeminded person.

As for the divorce thing, yeah, I agree that theoretically a divorce settlement should be fair; both parties should have felt they were equally contributing to any relationship. But then in reality, it's on each of us to make sure that we invest appropriately into the relationship in terms of communication, nurturance, love, and indeed initial screening. If we don't do that, then the divorce is going to hurt badly. Even a fair divorce has a lot of costs and externalities. It's worthwhile sometimes remembering that happiness and harmony have nothing to do with frugality (though they are compatible with it).


Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: talltexan on September 28, 2020, 07:29:11 AM
Indeed a divorce destroys value. It is not to be entered into lightly.

But we have to grant space to the human being--Pete--to be someone different than the Mr. Money Mustache character. Pete created the character to build this movement. There are plenty of indications that Mrs. Money Mustache helped in creating that character and in articulating the values underneath that movement. The human being has a right to live, and a right to change his life. We are not always able to choose when things like a divorce happen.

I think the purpose of this thread is to critique the movement. There are plenty of reasons to respect the privacy of Pete the person while trying to refine our arguments about what the movement should be (and shouldn't be).
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on September 28, 2020, 08:55:57 AM
Indeed a divorce destroys value. It is not to be entered into lightly.

But we have to grant space to the human being--Pete--to be someone different than the Mr. Money Mustache character. Pete created the character to build this movement. There are plenty of indications that Mrs. Money Mustache helped in creating that character and in articulating the values underneath that movement. The human being has a right to live, and a right to change his life. We are not always able to choose when things like a divorce happen.

I think the purpose of this thread is to critique the movement. There are plenty of reasons to respect the privacy of Pete the person while trying to refine our arguments about what the movement should be (and shouldn't be).

You articulated my thoughts better than I could.
FWIW I thought MMMís (the persona) handling of Peteís (the human) divorce was done fairly well.  There was the public acknowledgement of their split without the airing of dirty laundry that so often goes with it.  They remain invested in being parents and have stayed geographically close even though each has the financial means to live almost anywhere they want.

Many also falsely assume that Peteís early salary and his blog income allowed them to FIRE - by his own accounts his wife was the higher earner for much of their accumulation phase, and She has had two lucrative occupations Ďpost-FIRE.í The blog income didnít come until several years after they had both quit their original occupations (not to mention a great deal of the blog income has been gifted to charitable causes), and she continued to earn a sizable income. This doesnít support the notion that she will take half of Ďhisí money. 
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: OtherJen on September 28, 2020, 09:40:47 AM
Indeed a divorce destroys value. It is not to be entered into lightly.

But we have to grant space to the human being--Pete--to be someone different than the Mr. Money Mustache character. Pete created the character to build this movement. There are plenty of indications that Mrs. Money Mustache helped in creating that character and in articulating the values underneath that movement. The human being has a right to live, and a right to change his life. We are not always able to choose when things like a divorce happen.

I think the purpose of this thread is to critique the movement. There are plenty of reasons to respect the privacy of Pete the person while trying to refine our arguments about what the movement should be (and shouldn't be).

You articulated my thoughts better than I could.
FWIW I thought MMMís (the persona) handling of Peteís (the human) divorce was done fairly well.  There was the public acknowledgement of their split without the airing of dirty laundry that so often goes with it.  They remain invested in being parents and have stayed geographically close even though each has the financial means to live almost anywhere they want.

Many also falsely assume that Peteís early salary and his blog income allowed them to FIRE - by his own accounts his wife was the higher earner for much of their accumulation phase, and She has had two lucrative occupations Ďpost-FIRE.í The blog income didnít come until several years after they had both quit their original occupations (not to mention a great deal of the blog income has been gifted to charitable causes), and she continued to earn a sizable income. This doesnít support the notion that she will take half of Ďhisí money.

Yeah, it's rather sexist to assume that he was the financial powerhouse and she took "his" money.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: EscapeVelocity2020 on September 28, 2020, 09:41:28 AM
Indeed a divorce destroys value. It is not to be entered into lightly.

But we have to grant space to the human being--Pete--to be someone different than the Mr. Money Mustache character. Pete created the character to build this movement. There are plenty of indications that Mrs. Money Mustache helped in creating that character and in articulating the values underneath that movement. The human being has a right to live, and a right to change his life. We are not always able to choose when things like a divorce happen.

I think the purpose of this thread is to critique the movement. There are plenty of reasons to respect the privacy of Pete the person while trying to refine our arguments about what the movement should be (and shouldn't be).

You articulated my thoughts better than I could.
FWIW I thought MMMís (the persona) handling of Peteís (the human) divorce was done fairly well.  There was the public acknowledgement of their split without the airing of dirty laundry that so often goes with it.  They remain invested in being parents and have stayed geographically close even though each has the financial means to live almost anywhere they want.

Many also falsely assume that Peteís early salary and his blog income allowed them to FIRE - by his own accounts his wife was the higher earner for much of their accumulation phase, and She has had two lucrative occupations Ďpost-FIRE.í The blog income didnít come until several years after they had both quit their original occupations (not to mention a great deal of the blog income has been gifted to charitable causes), and she continued to earn a sizable income. This doesnít support the notion that she will take half of Ďhisí money.

Not to be pedantic, but he publicly gifted $100k (which is laudable, but also a tax advantaged way to 'spend', given that he hired a tax accountant and published his 'gift', which also increased his social value), so it is unlikely that his years of $400k income were being given to the point of MMM being impacted.  To be clear, he has not indicated that he is giving away his wealth and living in a monastery like some seem to assume.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on September 28, 2020, 10:19:37 AM
Anyone who assumes he is living like a monk in a monetary has utterly failed to comprehend even a fraction of what heís written on the subject (e.g. ďexploding volcano of excessĒ and ďif you think this is about extreme frugality, you are missing the pointĒ.  Yes, he wrote about gifting $100k at one time, and has talked about his other charitable giving.  Not sure where you are getting the ďonly $100kĒ bit...

Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Dee18 on September 28, 2020, 10:36:48 AM
ďIndeed a divorce destroys value.Ē
How so?
My best friend recently got divorced after 15 years of marriage.  There was no value destroyed.  One did buy out the otherís share of the house they were living in.  They were both working and had 403(b)/401(k) accounts.  No value was lost on those.  Another close friend divorced a dozen years ago, and it was handled similarly.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on September 28, 2020, 10:42:19 AM
ďIndeed a divorce destroys value.Ē
How so?
My best friend recently got divorced after 15 years of marriage.  There was no value destroyed.  One did buy out the otherís share of the house they were living in.  They were both working and had 403(b)/401(k) accounts.  No value was lost on those.  Another close friend divorced a dozen years ago, and it was handled similarly.

I would say that a contested divorce often destroys value (largely through legal representation).  But most divorces are uncontested, and some are settled somewhat amicably.
Beyond a few hundred$ in legal fees an uncontested divorce does not need to destroy value
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Goldielocks on September 28, 2020, 05:41:52 PM
Quote
earn as much as you can, but never sacrifice your soul to do it.

MMM also seems to have a much higher ceiling in terms of advocating for various modes of frugality than he does for increasing income. That is to say, he advocates we do everything we can (subject to cost/benefit analysis) to cut down spending, but is more lukewarm about doing everything we can (subject to cost/benefit analysis) to increase earnings. I think this is because MMM has an anti-consumerist bent. That's fine for him to have, but it's one point on which I don't agree with his approach. I am neither pro- nor anti-consumption.


What would you say are the two extreme ends of the scale, then? I see total self-sufficiency as one end (in which case MMMs move to abandon health insurance and become "self-insured" carries a moral value, and I see total outsourcing at the other end.
Here is the thing, though.

In order to ride a bike everywhere, cook and shop for your food from (low cost, healthy) whole ingredients, be smart about re-use of items and reducing environmental impacts....  you need TIME.  You need FREEDOM from being overbooked with massive commitments.

So, I would guess that MMM doesn't push on the side hustle / maximize your income, because then your brain is taken over with the complexities of making that happen, and there is very little left for optimizing your health, your personal environment, and your "chill" factor.  The classic "you can't have it all, all of the time" schtick.

Life doesn't start when we are FI, so having a horrific existence prior to FI is not the recommended plan.  Just stick to a frugal life, and a life with a purpose (including freedom FIRE).
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: marty998 on September 28, 2020, 05:44:55 PM
If I recall correctly it was Mrs MMM who designed and maintained the blog when it first started. MMM acknowledged this in a few posts and Mrs MMM also wrote content.

Mrs MMM also got this forum going too if Iím not mistaken.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Bloop Bloop on September 28, 2020, 07:50:59 PM
ďIndeed a divorce destroys value.Ē
How so?
My best friend recently got divorced after 15 years of marriage.  There was no value destroyed.  One did buy out the otherís share of the house they were living in.  They were both working and had 403(b)/401(k) accounts.  No value was lost on those.  Another close friend divorced a dozen years ago, and it was handled similarly.

A divorce destroys the goodwill built up from a relationship and it also destroys the financial and non-financial benefits of being part of a couple as opposed to being a single. There are various benefits to a loving relationship over a single existence. This is a controversial thing for me to say but I note that, just to use one example, married people (particularly men) live longer than single people.

What I'm trying to say is, although it's got little to do with straight finances, a happy marriage is probably the greatest thing you can have happen to you, and so for any holistic notion of wellbeing, the idea of a happy relationship should be central to that, and the sustenance of a marriage/prevention of rifts in a marriage is something that I think all lifestyle / financial bloggers should look at more closely. This starts with choosing the right person, too, and in fact probably starts even before that at working on yourself to become the best version of yourself.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: LWYRUP on September 28, 2020, 08:31:38 PM
ďIndeed a divorce destroys value.Ē
How so?
My best friend recently got divorced after 15 years of marriage.  There was no value destroyed.  One did buy out the otherís share of the house they were living in.  They were both working and had 403(b)/401(k) accounts.  No value was lost on those.  Another close friend divorced a dozen years ago, and it was handled similarly.

A divorce destroys the goodwill built up from a relationship and it also destroys the financial and non-financial benefits of being part of a couple as opposed to being a single. There are various benefits to a loving relationship over a single existence. This is a controversial thing for me to say but I note that, just to use one example, married people (particularly men) live longer than single people.

What I'm trying to say is, although it's got little to do with straight finances, a happy marriage is probably the greatest thing you can have happen to you, and so for any holistic notion of wellbeing, the idea of a happy relationship should be central to that, and the sustenance of a marriage/prevention of rifts in a marriage is something that I think all lifestyle / financial bloggers should look at more closely. This starts with choosing the right person, too, and in fact probably starts even before that at working on yourself to become the best version of yourself.

Well put and not controversial to me, thanks for sharing.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: SourdoughEnthusiast on September 28, 2020, 08:36:29 PM
I very much agree with the principles of FIRE and learning to love a simpler existence, but I think where I ever so slightly depart from MMM is in this: the more extreme you become the more "successful" you will be on all your spreadsheets - BUT - being extreme (in any way) generally has unexpected repercussions.

In adopting an MMM lifestyle, you are pitting yourself (righteously!) against the whole world. This can isolate you from other's experiences and while an adult can make an informed decision to be eccentric, a child might struggle in a family that is sort of pitted against the rest of society.

When you hold yourself and your family to very high standards - of any kind - this needs to be done with a LOT of communication and an ability to compromise, be empathetic and reasonable.

Unfortunately the people who come pre-loaded with the capacity to be extreme, eccentric and disciplined might not always come pre-loaded with the ability to be reasonable and empathetic - which are needed for other forms of success - which do end up impacting on financial success in the end anyway.

So I do feel like the push to be "extreme" might need to be complemented with advice on how to be gentle and able to accept different viewpoints and values.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Bloop Bloop on September 28, 2020, 08:50:09 PM
I very much agree with the principles of FIRE and learning to love a simpler existence, but I think where I ever so slightly depart from MMM is in this: the more extreme you become the more "successful" you will be on all your spreadsheets - BUT - being extreme (in any way) generally has unexpected repercussions.

In adopting an MMM lifestyle, you are pitting yourself (righteously!) against the whole world. This can isolate you from other's experiences and while an adult can make an informed decision to be eccentric, a child might struggle in a family that is sort of pitted against the rest of society.

When you hold yourself and your family to very high standards - of any kind - this needs to be done with a LOT of communication and an ability to compromise, be empathetic and reasonable.

Unfortunately the people who come pre-loaded with the capacity to be extreme, eccentric and disciplined might not always come pre-loaded with the ability to be reasonable and empathetic - which are needed for other forms of success - which do end up impacting on financial success in the end anyway.

So I do feel like the push to be "extreme" might need to be complemented with advice on how to be gentle and able to accept different viewpoints and values.

I thought this was a great post. Being non-judgmental, to a point, and being able to accept divergence is something I wish I was better at, and something I'm working on.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: AO1FireTo on September 28, 2020, 08:56:20 PM
I still agree with most of what MMM stands for.  I understand the comments about how his real spending is somewhat covered up his business interests.  However, he's still basically the same guy.  He rides his bike everywhere, lives in a modest home, takes care of his kid, and advocates for the environment, bike lanes etc. which I find admirable.

I must say his love affair with Telsa leaves me somewhat baffled.  I get it for the love of technologies, but in reality there is no such thing as a green car.  We need to get rid of these things as fast as possible.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: slappy on September 29, 2020, 07:01:25 AM
I still agree with most of what MMM stands for.  I understand the comments about how his real spending is somewhat covered up his business interests.  However, he's still basically the same guy.  He rides his bike everywhere, lives in a modest home, takes care of his kid, and advocates for the environment, bike lanes etc. which I find admirable.

I must say his love affair with Telsa leaves me somewhat baffled.  I get it for the love of technologies, but in reality there is no such thing as a green car.  We need to get rid of these things as fast as possible.

It's really irritating to hear people on MMM (and Pete himself) say that we should "get rid of" cars. I don't know if that's hyperbole but I see it a lot: just bike everywhere!

It's dumb because it might work where you live, but there are places others live where that would not work. I think this is obvious enough to not need further explanation.

I think you might be missing the point though. Yes, we are a car centric society. The idea is to try to change that. Also, for me at least, the idea is to challenge the norm. If you think you can't ride a bike somewhere, challenge yourself. If you still decide you can't or don't want to, then fine. At least you thought about it. Too many people do things like that without even thinking. Imagine a situation where you need one item from a store within walking distance. Most people jump in the car and go grab that one item. It's not a even a question. It's not because they can't walk, or don't want to, it just doesn't even enter their mind as an option. Here's another example. I live .5 mile from my SIL. Yet sometimes I drive there. Most of the time I walk, but occasionally I don't feel like it, or the weather's not great or I need to carry a large heavy item. (Although I did walk home from there carrying a large cat crate once, no cat in it.)
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: chaskavitch on September 29, 2020, 07:20:24 AM
I still agree with most of what MMM stands for.  I understand the comments about how his real spending is somewhat covered up his business interests.  However, he's still basically the same guy.  He rides his bike everywhere, lives in a modest home, takes care of his kid, and advocates for the environment, bike lanes etc. which I find admirable.

I must say his love affair with Telsa leaves me somewhat baffled.  I get it for the love of technologies, but in reality there is no such thing as a green car.  We need to get rid of these things as fast as possible.

It's really irritating to hear people on MMM (and Pete himself) say that we should "get rid of" cars. I don't know if that's hyperbole but I see it a lot: just bike everywhere!

It's dumb because it might work where you live, but there are places others live where that would not work. I think this is obvious enough to not need further explanation.

I think you might be missing the point though. Yes, we are a car centric society. The idea is to try to change that. Also, for me at least, the idea is to challenge the norm. If you think you can't ride a bike somewhere, challenge yourself. If you still decide you can't or don't want to, then fine. At least you thought about it. Too many people do things like that without even thinking. Imagine a situation where you need one item from a store within walking distance. Most people jump in the car and go grab that one item. It's not a even a question. It's not because they can't walk, or don't want to, it just doesn't even enter their mind as an option. Here's another example. I live .5 mile from my SIL. Yet sometimes I drive there. Most of the time I walk, but occasionally I don't feel like it, or the weather's not great or I need to carry a large heavy item. (Although I did walk home from there carrying a large cat crate once, no cat in it.)

We could also advocate for better public transport systems in areas that are lacking, and better cross-country train systems, etc.  And work to get rid of the idea that only "poor people" and students ride the bus - I know this isn't a problem in many urban areas, but it's definitely a prevalent mindset here.  That way not having a car WOULD be a viable option for more people. 

I personally live 10 miles from where I work, 7 miles from the grocery store, and I don't bike, because I don't think I'd be able to do it between needing to get to work at 6 am for a 11 hour day and then picking up kids from daycare and biking home with them.  So I don't have any moral high ground at all, but I absolutely agree that electric cars aren't the best answer.   Being able to walk or bike most places is what I miss most about living in town.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on September 29, 2020, 07:21:47 AM
I still agree with most of what MMM stands for.  I understand the comments about how his real spending is somewhat covered up his business interests.  However, he's still basically the same guy.  He rides his bike everywhere, lives in a modest home, takes care of his kid, and advocates for the environment, bike lanes etc. which I find admirable.

I must say his love affair with Telsa leaves me somewhat baffled.  I get it for the love of technologies, but in reality there is no such thing as a green car.  We need to get rid of these things as fast as possible.

It's really irritating to hear people on MMM (and Pete himself) say that we should "get rid of" cars. I don't know if that's hyperbole but I see it a lot: just bike everywhere!

It's dumb because it might work where you live, but there are places others live where that would not work. I think this is obvious enough to not need further explanation.

I'm not sure how you ever concluded that Pete is advocating for complete elimination of cars.  As the previous poster pointed out, he's multiple glowing posts about Tesla, as well as several posts about his EV Nissan Leaf.  Several of his most read posts have been on cars, including "Turning a Little Car Into a Big One (https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/12/08/turning-a-little-car-into-a-big-one/)", "Top 10 Cars for Smart People (https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/03/19/top-10-cars-for-smart-people/)" and "All Wheel Drive Does Not Make You Safer".    He's talked extensively about his road-trip vacations and smarter ways to own vehicles, and he has always owned at least one car at any given time.

What he advocates is less driving overall, and designing both our individual lives and our neighrbohoods to facilitate pedestrians and cyclists for shorter trips.

If you think he's pushing for zero cars I suggest you go back and start reading his blog from the beginning.  Hint: he mentions cars and car ownership several times in the first few pots.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Zikoris on September 29, 2020, 12:44:39 PM
I can't quote all of you, but here's the deal...

If you live in an urban area, yes, walk, ride a bike, whatever you want.

But *97%**** of the country is rural!! Source: https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2017/08/rural-america.html#:~:text=Urban%20areas%20make%20up%20only,Census%20Bureau%20%2D%20Opens%20as%20PDF.

I don't even live in a rural area, more like a suburb, but for work I drive about 20 minutes each way. I don't have time to ride a bike there, and no government is going to build a hyper speed rail from my smallish (but relatively high income) town to the major manufacturing area where I work as an engineer.

It just doesn't make sense.

You need to think about situations other than your own. I'm doing that: I think riding your bike is GREAT - if you live in the right area and it won't take you over an hour to get to work. This is so simple to understand.

MMM would tell you to move in that situation. https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/09/28/get-rich-with-moving-to-a-better-place/ (https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/09/28/get-rich-with-moving-to-a-better-place/)

Also, 97% of the land mass may be rural, but in America 80% of the population lives in urban settings. And of people who live in truly rural places, a good chunk of them are farmers, so commuting would also be less of a thing for them.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on September 29, 2020, 01:14:29 PM
I can't quote all of you, but here's the deal...

If you live in an urban area, yes, walk, ride a bike, whatever you want.

But *97%**** of the country is rural!! Source: https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2017/08/rural-america.html#:~:text=Urban%20areas%20make%20up%20only,Census%20Bureau%20%2D%20Opens%20as%20PDF.

I don't even live in a rural area, more like a suburb, but for work I drive about 20 minutes each way. I don't have time to ride a bike there, and no government is going to build a hyper speed rail from my smallish (but relatively high income) town to the major manufacturing area where I work as an engineer.

It just doesn't make sense.

You need to think about situations other than your own. I'm doing that: I think riding your bike is GREAT - if you live in the right area and it won't take you over an hour to get to work. This is so simple to understand.

That's all fine and good, but you claimed that Pete wants to "get rid" of cars.  Which is completely bogus.  And, as Zikoris said - the overwhelming majority of the population lives in non-rural areas.

FWIW I do live in a rural area, and one that gets a ton of snow.  With our current infrastructure a car is a near-necessity, but not a monster late-model $50k pickup financed from the dealer, which is the norm around here.

You are disagreeing with things no one (including Pete) ever said.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: GuitarStv on September 29, 2020, 01:20:53 PM
I can't quote all of you, but here's the deal...

If you live in an urban area, yes, walk, ride a bike, whatever you want.

But *97%**** of the country is rural!! Source: https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2017/08/rural-america.html#:~:text=Urban%20areas%20make%20up%20only,Census%20Bureau%20%2D%20Opens%20as%20PDF.

I don't even live in a rural area, more like a suburb, but for work I drive about 20 minutes each way. I don't have time to ride a bike there, and no government is going to build a hyper speed rail from my smallish (but relatively high income) town to the major manufacturing area where I work as an engineer.

It just doesn't make sense.

You need to think about situations other than your own. I'm doing that: I think riding your bike is GREAT - if you live in the right area and it won't take you over an hour to get to work. This is so simple to understand.

MMM would tell you to move in that situation. https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/09/28/get-rich-with-moving-to-a-better-place/ (https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/09/28/get-rich-with-moving-to-a-better-place/)

Also, 97% of the land mass may be rural, but in America 80% of the population lives in urban settings. And of people who live in truly rural places, a good chunk of them are farmers, so commuting would also be less of a thing for them.

Yep.  From the very article that tyler posted:

Quote
97 percent of the countryís land mass is rural but only 19.3 percent of the population lives there.

Less than one in five people in the US live in a rural area.  The problem of living in a suburb extremely far away from where you work is an issue that MMM has covered many times on his blog.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: Zikoris on September 29, 2020, 03:06:47 PM
Sigh. Y'all aren't listening to what I'm saying.

You don't need to live in a rural area to need to drive. I live in a medium-small town with a per capita income over $100,000. It's like a "suburb" or "satellite city."

But there are huge expanses of space between towns and cities.

I live in Texas. Texas is BIG.

If you don't understand that, then you will not comprehend anything else that I have to say. Maybe y'all aren't open to thinking beyond your own personal situation. If I lived where you live, then yes, I would probably drive a lot less - but my point is that it is a necessity.

To tell people they should just "move" is asinine and flippant as well. Maybe you work somewhere without houses and apartments - again, you wouldn't understand this, but you can't just move next door to the refinery, plant, or factory if there are no neighborhoods.

Spend some time in Texas and you'll see how ridiculous this discussion is.


And yet people move all the time and change jobs all the time for tons of reasons, very often related to commuting. We're not just making this up, actual people are doing this stuff every day to improve their lives and finances.

I'm not telling anyone they "should" do this or that, just that driving is not some unavoidable thing, and if it's important to you to not drive, there are ways to set up your life to do that. For sure, you may have so far designed your life to center around driving, but the good news is your feet are not nailed down to the front porch at a particular address, and you're not in bondage to any particular company.

I think it's valuable to be brutally honest with yourself and not pretend things are set in stone unless they truly are. If you like your current setup and want to continue, by all means do so, but there's just no point lying to yourself that you don't have other options.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: sherr on September 29, 2020, 03:08:33 PM
I hope you donít leave this thread feeling attacked as we are all want to doÖ
"Wont to do". Now you can feel attacked too. ;)

And I really don't get what Tyler is going on about. I don't see anyone hating car drivers or "being tyrannical" to the rural 20% or denying that Texas is large. They're simply enjoying and advocating for riding bikes, when it is practical.

Okay, so if it's not practical in your situation then don't do it. If it sometimes is, then enjoy. No minorities are being attacked here, and car drivers are certainly not a minority anyway.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: nereo on September 29, 2020, 04:56:07 PM
Sigh. Y'all aren't listening to what I'm saying.

Funny - I was thinking the same of you

You are ďdisagreeingĒ with something that no one here is actually arguing for (ďget rid of carsĒ) - especially not Pete 

This a textbook example of gaslighting.

Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: TomTX on September 29, 2020, 05:30:31 PM
I live in Texas. Texas is BIG.

If you don't understand that, then you will not comprehend anything else that I have to say. Maybe y'all aren't open to thinking beyond your own personal situation. If I lived where you live, then yes, I would probably drive a lot less - but my point is that it is a necessity.

You seem super sensitive for a Texan.

Sure, I'd need a car or other motor vehicle to get to Dallas - but if the infrastructure were more focused on active transportation (bike, ped, scooter, etc) - I could get almost everywhere I need to go in town pretty conveniently on a bike. As it is, things are very car-centric, so it's more of a hassle than it should be.
Title: Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
Post by: spartana on September 29, 2020, 09:26:08 PM
“Indeed a divorce destroys value.”
How so?
My best friend recently got divorced after 15 years of marriage.  There was no value destroyed.  One did buy out the other’s share of the house they were living in.  They were both working and had 403(b)/401(k) accounts.  No value was lost on those.  Another close friend divorced a dozen years ago, and it was handled similarly.

A divorce destroys the goodwill built up from a relationship and it also destroys the financial and non-financial benefits of being part of a couple as opposed to being a single. There are various benefits to a loving relationship over a single existence. This is a controversial thing for me to say but I note that, just to use one example, married people (particularly men) live longer than single people.

What I'm trying to say is, although it's got little to do with straight finances, a happy marriage is probably the greatest thing you can have happen to you, and so for any holistic notion of wellbeing, the idea of a happy relationship should be central to that, and the sustenance of a marriage/prevention of rifts in a marriage is something that I think all lifestyle / financial bloggers should look at more closely. This starts with choosing the right person, too, and in fact probably starts even before that at working on yourself to become the best version of yourself.
Choosing to get divorced doesn't mean you are choosing to live your life single. That's usually a temporary state, and one which often helps you realigned your values (financial as well as emotional) to find a more compatible partner who is a better fit for your future lifestyle.

 Also divorce doesn't always have to mean loss of goodwill towards your ex-spouse. Or financial ruin. It can happen in loving, caring, honorable and equilable relationships where the couple has simply grow in different directions. The people you were when you married in your 20s may not have the same goals or shared lifestyle once in your 40s. Even with much compromise it may not work. Parting on friendly, even loving, terms does happ