Author Topic: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?  (Read 40758 times)

Bloop Bloop

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In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« 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?

Monkey Uncle

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #1 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.

Much Fishing to Do

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #2 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.

NorthernMonkey

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #3 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.

chemistk

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #4 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.

Monkey Uncle

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #5 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.

Louisville

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #6 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.

CopperTex

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #7 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.

Cpa Cat

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #8 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 “don’t buy stuff that you can’t afford to lose, and take really good care of the stuff that you do have.”"

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.

OtherJen

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #9 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 “don’t buy stuff that you can’t afford to lose, and take really good care of the stuff that you do have.”"

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 “clown car” and “consumer sukka” stuff, but advocating no insurance in the USA is downright irresponsible.

the_fixer

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In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #10 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.

Let’s 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)


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« Last Edit: June 24, 2020, 07:06:01 AM by the_fixer »

slappy

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #11 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!


Peachtea

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #12 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 doesn’t 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 it’s 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 weren’t given breaks, cooks rated wait staff on their “fuckability,” 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 it’s 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 “real” part-time in my rural area. No way was I going back there.

I’m lucky that since then I’ve 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, it’s great if you’ve never been in a really confrontational work environment or other environment where a FU fund can be your life line. But that’s 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 “prevent” from getting to the FU stage. So many people stay in really horrible situations because they don’t 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.

Laura33

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #13 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.

LightTripper

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #14 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.

simonsez

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #15 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.

LWYRUP

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #16 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. 
« Last Edit: June 24, 2020, 08:00:45 AM by LWYRUP »

dodojojo

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #17 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.

Morning Glory

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #18 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.

dodojojo

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #19 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?

Cpa Cat

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #20 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.

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #21 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.

vand

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #22 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.


John Galt incarnate!

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #23 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.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2020, 09:57:47 AM by John Galt incarnate! »

Physicsteacher

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #24 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.

mm1970

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #25 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 “don’t buy stuff that you can’t afford to lose, and take really good care of the stuff that you do have.”"

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.

bmjohnson35

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #26 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.   

nereo

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #27 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/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.

nereo

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #28 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 “don’t buy stuff that you can’t afford to lose, and take really good care of the stuff that you do have.”"

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.

mm1970

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #29 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.

mm1970

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #30 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 “don’t buy stuff that you can’t afford to lose, and take really good care of the stuff that you do have.”"

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.

nereo

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #31 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/
and earlier (before the ACA came under sustained attack)
https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/10/28/obamacare-friend-of-the-entrepreneur-and-early-retiree/

Nords

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #32 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. 
« Last Edit: June 24, 2020, 10:52:54 AM by Nords »

HipGnosis

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #33 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.

jpompo

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #34 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.

FINate

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #35 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.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2020, 11:09:31 AM by FINate »

Hula Hoop

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #36 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.

OtherJen

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #37 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 didn’t bankrupt his young family while they were grieving.

A healthy lifestyle will mitigate lifestyle-related diseases. It isn’t insurance.

Cpa Cat

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #38 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.

John Galt incarnate!

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #39 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.

« Last Edit: June 24, 2020, 11:57:47 AM by John Galt incarnate! »

FINate

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #40 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?

RWD

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #41 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/

John Galt incarnate!

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #42 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?

nereo

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #43 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.

RWD

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #44 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.

Cassie

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #45 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 30’s will probably regret it.

MilesTeg

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #46 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.

ChickenStash

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #47 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.

MilesTeg

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #48 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 “don’t buy stuff that you can’t afford to lose, and take really good care of the stuff that you do have.”"

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.

FINate

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Re: In what ways do you disagree with MMM's approach?
« Reply #49 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.