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  1. So do you and Mr. FM split all shared costs? That is to say, is your rent actually $1,860 and your half is $930? If that is the case I don’t feel as bad with my $5,500 a month expenses in Silicon Valley. When I first read your monthly total of $2,353 as the cost for essentially two people I felt I must be egregiously overspending.

    1. You’ve got it– our rent is $1,860 and the monthly total is only for me. Also we live in Portland, OR so it sounds like you’re killing it in Silicon Valley where prices are even more insane.

  2. Very interesting post.
    Some questions: Should the expenses be actual expenses or the expenses expected after retiring (they would go up if you are going to travel). So are you saying that after a certain point the money will make more money than you are spending?

    1. The expenses should be what you expect to spend after retiring. Some people spend more to travel, for healthcare, and other expenses, whereas others have decreasing costs because they have more time to cook their own food, take on some lower paying side-hustles, etc. You got it, eventually your money can make more money from investments than you spend!

  3. How do you decide how frugal to be? Some people live in a Tiny House or only need a mud hut with a goat outside. It would be easy to do without a dryer and hang washing outside but we don’t.But this is really just social convention. How frugal is too frugal do you think?

  4. This was an entertaining read. I agree that the it is good if the side hustle is not too much like work. Do you think selling things on Craigslist or reselling items up for grab in the neighborhood counts as a side hustle?

    1. Absolutely! Lots of people do that as a side-hustle, and some businesses are even build around buying stuff in thrift stores and Craigslist and turning around to sell for a profit. One time I bought I bike on Craigslist and out of curiosity relisted it for double the price and got some offers a week later.

  5. I enjoyed this post. It gave me lots to ponder. I always think of inertia as not being able to get started. Are you saying that inertia also means not being able to stop?

  6. Love it. Your beautifully simple comparison shows exactly how business executives compare major investments. Everybody should Act like the CFO of their life whenever expensing anything, especially the small stuff that most people don’t worry about at all but have a huge impact down the line.

  7. I have found myself being a bit of miser lately. This is a great reminder to spend on the right things. An investment in yourself is possibly the most important investment.

    1. Awesome post! This was a reminder for me to live in the now as well as save for the future.

      I heard of the term “valuist” and i believe that’s what you’re describing. Spend money on what YOU value and not what society tells you that you should care about such as name brands, etc..

      Thanks for the great post and look forward to more in the future!

  8. I use YNAB religiously, I started using it March of this year, which is when I began my FIRE journey. I’ve tried to budget before with mint.com, but seeing where my money WENT, not where it needs to go, never has worked well for me. Although I use personal capital for retirement forecasting and allocation overviews, I don’t think it would work well for my budget.

    Since I started using YNAB, my monthly spending has gone from over $2,800 to an average of $1,700. My goal is to get this down to $1,400 monthly next year. My mortgage is over half of that. I plan to add insulation and other energy-savers to the house this year, which will be an upfront cost that will help me save in the future.

    1. It’s great to hear from someone using YNAB. If it can cut your spending by ~60% then a $7 fee is measly and completely worth it. Why do you think it works best for you compared to mint and PC? Do you think it is because you need to stare down every purchase in the face knowing you will be logging it into YNAB?

      I have heard many people doing similar things using YNAB or Mint for short-term budgeting and PC for long-term which makes sense because PC really shines with long-term goals and allocations, but hind-sight viewing of spending isn’t really the same as budgeting.

      I like that you’re taking advantage of upfront costs that help you save in the future, YNAB is a minuscule upfront cost, and energy-savers added to the house are definitely worth it as well.

  9. Interesting post! I hadn’t really thought of myself as privileged but now that I think about it, I am. Just being born in America is a privilege. I guess we just have to accept this fact and decide if we want to use our privileges for good. I see myself eventually making way more money than I need and it will be cool to help people with that surplus of money.

  10. Thanks for the tips. I’m really kicking myself for not negotiating at all with for my current role. I had been working so hard to get my first IT job that when they offered me the position I just took it. Probably cost myself $3-8k just by not asking if they could pay anymore. And they didn’t even ask me for a number first! Shaking my head…

  11. My wife and I live out in the country in Georgia and our total monthly expenses are about $2,500. Hoping I can continue to work remotely and at least double my income so we can really hit FI quickly.

  12. Nice post. I am not sure what is my frugal find overseas. I prefer to stay in budget hotels than hostels for the comfort and privacy and I love good food – unfortunately, it is pretty costly. We try to eat local food when we travel though.

  13. I love all the pictures and graphs, it makes for an enjoyable read. At first I thought that $350 a month sounded a lot. Then I did the math and realized that if you buy lunch every day at $10 for 30 days comes to $300 alone. Then add to that a Starbucks treat a couple times a week and you are already at $350 and that is just for one person! Eek! Good job on keeping your meal expenses so low!

  14. I am a strong supporter of going salon free. I started going the at home route when I first met my husband and on our 3rd date, I had him give me a haircut. Crazy I know, but he cooked me a great meal at his house on our 2nd date and I mentioned I needed my haircut and that I hated going to the salon. He mentioned he could cut my hair for me and I asked for details. He explained the sectioning, pinning it up, trimming each layer and ensuring it is even. So on our 3rd date I was at his house Saturday AM and I informed him I was there for my hair appointment when he opened the door. He got out his tools and had good pro grade shears, not kitchen or office shears. I5 had been nearly a year since my last haircut so I told him he needed to chop off a lot. He said that wouldn’t be necessary, he could trim and shape my hair taking off only a couple inches. I said great and he got started. I admit I was nervous when I heard the shears actually cutting my hair as I sat there, but he was only taking off a couple inches, so I soldiered on. When he finished, he swept up the clippings, not much there, he said it was at most an inch and a half off, and I dashed to the bathroom to check in the mirror. He gave me a hand mirror to check the back. I was very pleased, it was the best haircut I could ever remember getting and it was free by my new boyfriend. He trims my hair every other month, puts out a glass of red wine for me, capes me (no more towel) and I feel so relaxed when he combs out my hair, that I could fall asleep. It is great bonding time with my husband. I used to dread going to the salon and getting my hair cut, now I actually enjoy the experience as I fully trust him and he loves my long hair that has grown
    Out past my elbows as much as I do. I know he would never get scissor happy on me. He is the only one I trust near my hair with shears, he gives my children their haircuts, cut my mom’s hair for her and he fixed a bad haircut for my best friend and now she will only trust my hubby to take the shears to her tresses. She is growing out her hair from a bad salon haircut and likes that he only trims just enough to remove the damaged and uneven ends without losing any of her length which now reaches just past the top of her bra strap. He does great work, never a bad haircut and when your friends ask your husband to cut their hair for them, I know I have it pretty good. It easily saves me several hundred dollars a year, plus time saved and no bad haircuts.

  15. I love this post! I used to get my hair cut at the cheapest of places (Great Clips, Sports Cuts, etc.) and hated the results every time. Now that I cut my own hair, I have control over how it turns out and end up loving it every time!

  16. This is good…because it is so true! It is a pet peeve of mine actually that people say they hate math or was never any good at math, even proudly declare it sometimes. I mean no one proudly says, “I was never any good at English”. Math gets a bad rap. I am glad you addressed this! Bravo!

    1. Boats and exercise equipment seem to come up a lot! Also your air dehumidifier reminds me of a section I read to prepare for this post– one person said they had bought a humidifier that barely worked (and it turned out to be an aroma diffuser! ha!) Thanks for sharing your most regrettable purchases 🙂

  17. I love the part about the air purifier. No pets, no smoke and no dust means very little use for the air purifier!
    I cant think of any regrettable purchases right now except maybe all the plants I bought meaning to put in the ground but ended up letting them fry on the patio because I didnt get around to it!

  18. Wow! What an adventure! It makes me feel like seeing if I could accomplish this too. I like that you included all your costs including souvenirs. Vacations in Canada are expensive (I know from experience) so you did a great job! You should write for a travel magazine:)

  19. This is great advice. I am constantly amazed how man people at work have not got around to investing in their 401K (403b or whatever). Or people who cash in their 401K to buy something. So I have a question: if you have credit card debt ( or any other kind of debt for that matter) should you pay that off before investing in a 401K?

    1. Good question. The advised method is to contribute only up to the amount the company will match (since that is a 100% return on investment) and no more until you pay off debt (anything higher than 4-5%) such as credit cards.

  20. I have no idea what my September expenses were yet since my itemized visa bill doesn’t arrive until the end of October. However, I am interested to see how it compares to yours and to see who “wins”!!

  21. This is a great post! And those are some interesting statistics. We really need to encourage openness and honesty in all forms of communication really so thank you for writing this.

  22. Woah, I wish all of my expenses were as low as yours! I had to pay for college so that alone was more than your total ?

    Here’s to hoping October is cheaper on me lol

      1. Yeah, my wife and I keep all of our finances combined. Maybe I just don’t feel like we’re being as frugal as we could be. Still though, your expenses are low even for one person!

  23. I feel ya on wanting a dog. We really want a pug but don’t want the commitment it takes to properly care for a dog right now.

  24. Sounds like you really have it together! If you dust off the Chase Freedom card, there’s 5% cash back on department stores right now. It’s a good way to build up points if you were planning to shop already. I know for me Q4 is super department-store-shopping heavy!

    Thanks so much for the link,
    Luxe

    1. It really is! And the thing is, you usually know it, but life stuff just gets in the way of acting on it. Also I love your username, you could end every post with a summary TLRE; instead of a TLDR; 😉

  25. This is a great post. It’s clear and provides actionable items. You nailed it when you said that the priority was to max out all accounts providing tax relief. Only then you may top up brokerage accounts etc. Thanks for sharing the Sankey Diagram! I will try it out myself!

  26. Good for you riding your bike to work! I love Miatas but they wouldn’t make for a very good car to haul things for my eBay business and antique booth. We have a Jeep that we’ve been trying to sell for months. I cringe at the thought of owning 3 cars in a two-person household.

    1. You would be surprised on what people manage to fit in their Miatas! But yeah, I definitely did not choose it for it’s hauling abilities. I’ve heard that an ad on TrueCar has helped people with selling, although you have to pay a small price. Good luck with your Jeep!

  27. Well done! I have never sold a car for a profit! I was interested in the concept of ‘mental plat’e. I have not hear that term before. Is it a variation of emotional labor?

    1. I would say it is a definitely a variation of emotional labor. I think a mental plate contains a balance of emotional labor (maintenance of relationships) and a to-do list of other tasks (maintenance of things). Perhaps the less we have to worry about maintenance of things, the more mental energy we can have for the maintenance of our relationships!

      1. Thank you for your reply. While I had not heard the term “mental plate” before, I have studied the effects of having too much to worry about when doing my Masters in Psychology. All that stress leads to depression; a huge problem in America today. So I think you are right about the importance of shedding things that cause one to worry. Having a balance of financial security yet not too many “things” so that one can focus one’s energy on other priorities is perhaps the end goal to strive for..

  28. Laughing about how you “mailed” yourselves to the beach. We like to go to city parks. Those are typically always free. We walk around and people watch. Farmers Markets are also cool and very cheap. One of my favorite frugal foreign feats was “sand boarding” down the sand dunes of Concon in Valparaiso, Chile. We got a board for approx $1 for 1 hour use.

  29. We’ve never budgeted. Dragon Guy works in finance and budgets for a living, and I think is too burnt out to do one for us. We’ve always just been extremely frugal and lived far below our means. However, now that we’re both thinking of retiring, we think we might need a budget. When we travel, I often have a goal of spending less than a certain dollar amount for the whole trip. What I’m learning now that I’ve been reading FIRE blogs is that I need to have more awareness of what we are spending. This has definitely helped us cut a lot of expenses.

  30. I enjoyed reading this post as it is a novel way of looking at the way people manage ( or don’t anage) their finances. You ask what type of bird the reader is.
    I am perhaps a cuckoo: I trust someone else to take care of my nest egg! Lets hope they are good at catching worms!

  31. Love the bird analogies. Luckily I was always a hawk — arguably too much so that I didn’t savor experiences or purchases enough b/c I was thinking too much about the price tag. I do think you can go too far in the other direction (at least I think I did) and I’m much better now at allowing myself to pick a more expensive menu item or buy a want, not a need. It helps that my husband and I are at a completely different life stage with our youngest child almost out of the home. Older and wiser, as they say (and compounding has been kind to us as we started saving early).

    1. I can definitely relate to that! There is definitely a balance to be had, and it sounds like you’re already finding that balance. It’s interesting to consider how different bird behavior could be beneficial depending on your life stage as well. Thanks for your insight!

  32. There’s a style in kung fu called the crane style. I’d like to think I’ve been a crane. Standing still, taking in all the financial information I can, then swooping down and taking action when I see a good bit of information I hadn’t heard about before. I’m definitely a mix between the ostrich and hawk though! I don’t ever read anything about the market fluctuations, but I do keep a close eye on all of my earning/spending. I really like this post!

  33. Great post! It’s hard to believe that someone can pursue financial independence, reach it, and not have a plan for what they want to do when they get there. Makes me wonder why the person ever pursued it in the first place. I think that shows the importance of looking for meaning rather than financial freedom. I listened to a podcast episode a while ago about a guy that started a recycling company that only hires people who have disabilities or mental handicaps. I doubt he’s ever going to retire because his “job” gives him such purpose.

    It seems like you usually end up making a lot of money even after your retire if you start doing the things that truly give you a sense of meaning. I’m pretty sure Mr. Money Mustache makes more money from his blog than he ever did during his career and he barely even tried to monetize it.

    1. Thank you! I agree that it makes you think about the motivations of pursuing financial independence. I have about ~10 years to go before FI so I have some time to ponder what I want that to look like, whether I continue to work or choose to do something else. Yet it’s never too early to think about what gives you meaning in or out of work. It definitely is pretty inspiring to see the portfolios of early retirees continue growing even though they planned to have extra buffer room while they just do what they love! It

  34. I like the sentence about the caution of a “void of self, an abyss of time”! I think that the beauty of financial independence is that you can try earning some cash by making things to sell on Etsy or trying some other entrepreneurial endeavor without the stress of having to make a corporate deadline or to make enough money to pay the bills. Mark Cuban on the Shark Tank episode I watched tonight said, ” “I’d rather work 80 hours a week for myself making $50,000 a year than work for someone else making $100,000 a year.” Why? Because it doesn’t seem like work.
    I build camper trailers as a side hustle (check out my blog). The work is incredibly fulfilling,and empowering. It gets me outdoors, provides exercise, improves my mental health because the concentration empties my thoughts like meditation does. And then I can sell the the campers for 3-5 x the cost of materials! The next step would be to build something larger like a ‘tiny house’! Doesn’t that sound fun?
    Stepping away from a regular job though is rather terrifying. I think a solution to this would be a “sabbatical” where one dips a toe into the water by taking an adult gap year or even a break for a couple of months. Maybe like like the guy you write about I would find out that the leisure life is not for me.For now, I am content at my 9 to 5 so I can afford to take my time.
    “Dreaming big” is overrated in my opinion. Contentment is where it’s at. I think financial independence can take you there.

    1. I’ve heard of the “sabbatical” solution to be: retire early, retire often. Sometimes a break can be enough for you to identify what you really want to be doing. It’s great that you are content in your 9 to 5 AND have a side hustle that is fulfilling and empowering!

  35. Hi FM, So many thought provoking ideas in this post! Brilliant! I didn’t come into early retirement with a lot of planning (but that’s kind of my personality). What really did help though was that I never saw my being a teacher as my identity. I had a lot of complicated feelings about my job. That being said, I’m definitely glad I quit full time, though I have moments of sadness that I left the profession. It’s been over a year since I retired, and I’m still trying to figure out what my retirement will be all about. I’ve done a lot of cool things, but I can definitely add more activities to my daily schedule.

    1. Thank you so much! It is really interesting to get another perspective from someone who has retired. I’m sure many feel very mixed feelings about leaving their profession. Would you be interested in picking up teacher-like hobbies? After school program volunteering, tutoring, or something like that? Or are you happy to not be teaching at all? What’s cool is you have plenty of time to figure out what your retirement will be all about 🙂

      1. I did part time work for a few months after I retired, teaching adults English. Since I never taught adults, I had to do a lot of extra planning so it became like a full time job and I had to quit, ha! But I don’t regret the part time work because I got to meet a lot of new people and learn interesting things about diff countries. I’m not sure if I’ll return to teaching in the traditional sense. I am trying to start a support group for creating healthy habits for cancer survivors and caregivers, which I’m hoping to launch in 2019. Thanks for your encouragement to make my time!

  36. I actually work more like 6ish hours a day, so fewer to fill 😉 plus I volunteer in the evenings, so I fill up more time. I don’t plan on quitting anytime in the near future, but I’m a serial time-filler, so that lack of ability to fill my time with meaningful endeavors is not on my list of concerns for eventual retirement 🙂

    1. Sounds like you are already setting out those patterns for time-filling and getting meaningful work early on! Rock on 🙂 I used to fill every second of every day but have since rebelled and don’t do much extra stuff in my spare time. Volunteering in the evenings sounds like a great way to do it, what do you volunteer for?

  37. Excellent article! I think this happens more often than people realize. My Dad had this happen to him. He retired early (long before FIRE was talked about). He has plenty of leisure hobbies to pursue however, he lost significant connection with the local community and general life purpose. He was so focused on escaping his career he failed to consider how his career fulfilled some of his basic life needs. He now works PT as a tutor for a local community college and is much more satisfied with life.

    1. It’s great to hear that he found something that gives him purpose. It seems like retiring early is very much a “grass is greener” type situation, and many people don’t realize that even in retirement you still need to do something to feel fulfilled. Thanks for sharing his story!

  38. I agree with every one of your purchases!!! And I adore the Overdrive app. And it’s my dream to just travel with a backpack. My husband Dragon Guy would say Global Entry is his best purchase. Mine is the iPad. I don’t like to be staring at a screen a lot, but I use it for so many different things! Reading books, playing games, blog related stuff, etc.

    1. I was considering Global Entry or even Pre-Check given how much I travel, I still need to look into those! I’m not surprised an iPad is something you don’t regret if you use it a lot. There is definitely a lot of utility there. Great examples of purchases that were well worth it.

    1. Good question. Utilities are a lump sum that I include in the month that I pay them, I’m actually trying to change it so I see the monthly bill so I can track it better. I don’t pay for internet, there is a public hotspot we connect to nearby. Perks of being in an apartment with thin walls.

  39. The idea of the article and it’s value is dead on. However, I frown at the conceit of those comments that are judging those that earned their financial freedom and did not ‘have a plan’ for their Personal Freedom immediately following. Obviously, first gain your financial freedom to get any credit and then you can speak to how to find happiness and enlightenment after you have swam upstream for a few years. Any plan you have beforehand, you can throw out the window after year 2. The first year we all had the hobby targets like golf and guitar. Guess what…if you were not interested enough in these hobbies to find time before, you just we’re not that interested. Volunteering, yes it is fulfilling, but it is also work and once again if it was really your personal mission to do XYZ, you would have done it before as well. My point is that you can make your life after plan, it will not work as planned, and you should not judge. FYI – I am much happier with financial freedom and time freedom, have achieved something great I could not have without it, but it is not the Valhalla you may think.

    1. Good point, and interesting to hear from someone who has already achieved financial freedom. Hopefully this doesn’t come off as judging those already in retirement; everyone makes their own way and it’s not easy!

      Just like how we don’t always assume careers we might have imagined while we were in University, retirement will not always look like what we expect. I think your point speaks to one I made as well: “the patterns we develop during our working life significantly impact how we shape our retirement.” All those ‘hobby targets’ and volunteering should be something you do while working if you also expect to do them in retirement. And you make a good point about planning and how that goes out the window. How did your plans change when you actually found financial/time freedom?

  40. It is always interesting to see what people buy so thank you for posting your money diary. It is like peeking into the cart of the person in front of you in line at the grocery store: We did that literally today at Sprouts. The guy had tumeric milk (didn’t know there was such a thing but sounds like a health fad) for $4.99, some flowers for $5.99 and special chocolate for $2.99. We bought tomatoes for $0.89, almonds on sale at $2.99 a pound and that was all. Anyway, the week also included some big ticket as well as some eclectic items; a garage roof for $2000, a router for $200 so we don’t have to pay $14 a month to Comcast, then there was my Bollywood class for $15, a scary cookie at the work bake sale for $4 and then $15 for wool to crochet Colorado headbands to sell to raise money for refugees and to make a Halloween wig for hubbie. Then because I am the fixitlady I bought a lift strut at Autozone, a gas line to attach the propane to the stove of my trailer, a clamping ring to fix the fan, and finally some Henry’s roof cement because the guys missed a spot.
    Whew!!!

  41. Those monthly fees can really get to you. I just called our home phone company to renew a small discount I had on our landline service. I was able to get the discount again for 12 more months, but the agent offered an upgraded internet and phone package for only $10 more per month. I said I would need to call back and think about it. Sure it is only $10 more per month, but that is $120 per year (and even more when you add in taxes and fees). We’re happy with our internet speed now, so I would rather put the extra $120 to something better!

    -DGuy

  42. It’s lovely when a purchase turns out so great like your REI backpack! My two favorites are my tablet, which I use for nearly everything, and a miter saw that has an extended arm. Both expensive, both used over and over.

    1. Right on! My mom told me the first thing I should buy when I moved out was a miter saw, it definitely sees a lot of use at our house. Quality buys that are used over and over are hard to regret 🙂

  43. This is a thought provoking post. It’s a challenge to be both generous and frugal at the same time. My experience of cheap is when someone socializing with me and other friends and orders the most expensive thing on the menu (and specialty drinks etc. ) then expects everyone to split the check equally.
    Here is another example of cheap: A friend told me about how her brother gives cheap gifts to her children. While she found it acceptable that he finds a gift at a thrift store because he doesn’t have much money, it was not OK that the sweaters he gave them last Christmas smelled like they hadn’t been washed!
    So I have a question for you (or any of your followers): Is RE-GIFTING cheap or simply sensible frugality?

    1. To be fair, you do have a family and this is just me 🙂 I love when people share their expenses because it’s the first time I actually had something to gauge my own spending against! Hard to get better without a realistic aspiration.

  44. I love the part about the hikers needing water bottles! It seems like I acquire a lot of free water bottles that I never end up using!!

  45. I cringe at the thought of all the little toys when we have kids. I know my mom is going to spoil them by giving them a ton of stuff. That’s pretty cool that you’ve thought all this out though! We live in a 1,200 sf house and I think that includes the garage. I’m proud to say the only reason we don’t park our cars in our garage is because I have my eBay and antique booth inventory in there. We’d have plenty of space if that wasn’t the case and the goal for the inventory is to move it out as quickly as possible!

    1. I know what you mean. I can barely keep up with our own mess, let alone with a kid in the space! We don’t have a garage (although rent covers the cost of two covered parking spots), it’s great yours can be a productive space for you!

  46. I have a counter point, actually! I have a 2,800sf house with just my husband. And I love it. I love every inch of the house. I love creating different spaces for us. I love having 12+ people up for the weekend. I love having a library, and a wood shop in the basement. My husband and I are both people who really really need our own private space and time so being able to totally isolate ourselves is pretty great.

    But yeah – it’s a lot. A lot to clean, renovate, worry about, heat, etc. If I were less of a homebody, or more of a simple living person, it would probably make me batty. But I’m not, and I love it.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Amanda! You bring up something really important– priorities. For some people, like you, more space for a library, workshop, or just for getting some alone time is a blessing. There isn’t anything wrong with that at all! If you use the space it makes sense to enjoy it. Since we aren’t using or enjoying our space, it makes sense to downsize. Reading your comment makes me happy because it is clear that you really value your space, and that is what matters.

  47. I just downsized, too! It was a little bit hard at first because I was moving from my own place to living with housemates, so I had to get rid of a few things I really liked. But it’s actually been really great. My housemates and I hang out, we’ve pooled resources to fill the space and kitchen, and I’ve gotten rid of a lot of stuff that’s been weighing me down without me realizing it.

    My story: https://medium.com/@frugalkite/400-square-feet-to-100-square-feet-downsizing-with-love-841d5b4fed3f?source=friends_link&sk=43867881a98a37af0bdf0d4a3286253c

    1. Hi Ginna, I really enjoyed your story. I used to live in Boulder, CO with roommates so I know your struggle! I like your strategies for letting go of things which can definitely be very difficult when downsizing.

  48. The funny thought that kept entering my mind while I read your post was, my wife and I rented a two bedroom apartment when we first moved in together. I have no idea why we needed a two bedroom unit. It makes no sense that we spent extra money on a room we didn’t use. How much of our daily routine is born from habit and ritual rather than need? Great post.

  49. Rightsizing your space is so important! And also so hard to figure out right now. We have a desk in the living room and we hate it so much, other than that the light is good. There just isn’t space for us to have our own personal space in our current space. So we are upsizing, from 1200 to 1700 sqft. It’s going to be amazing! I’m also really excited to have another toilet because sometimes one has issues and then we are left with one at the moment…

  50. I’m guessing our apartment is a little over 700 square feet for 2.5 people and 2 cats. Even still, there’s one room that never gets used. We basically use the living room 80% of the time, the kitchen and then the bedrooms. It would be nice to spread out a little more in maybe a 900 square foot apartment, but then I’d worry we’d just fill up the empty spots with more stuff.

    It always blew my mind when I’d hear people say that just HAD to have 2 bathrooms for a family of four. I’ve always just had one and never noticed it being a problem.

    1. That is my reality… The extra space is now storage for our bikes and bins of stuff we don’t need. I agree about the 2 bathrooms! Growing up we had 2 but one was NEVER used, and in college, I shared one bathroom with four women and we were fine.

  51. Thank you for another very interesting and thought provoking post! Selecting a smaller home also shows good stewardship on the planet. It irks me that TV shows like HGTV normalize the concept of needing more space. They show couples requiring extra bedrooms for guests or more space for entertaining and of course it comes at an enormous extra cost.
    I especially liked the heat map diagram. I will check out that book it came from.

    1. I think the rate is $15-$20 now, babysitting inflation is real! I definitely got paid in iTunes gift cards a couple times. Thanks Penny, I appreciated your comments when I was wondering whether to share.

  52. Incredible accomplishment, and very brave to put this out there! I think the more we share with our audiences, the better they can connect with us. Maybe some people won’t be able to relate as well, but I think it will largely be beneficial to your audience along their journey in trying to follow along in your footsteps.

    1. Thanks Matt, I appreciate that! I know I personally enjoy reading other peoples’ details even if they vary widely from my situation. It helps answer some “how” and “why”s along the journey to FI.

  53. Another good reason to share your ‘savings number’ is to give yourself credibility. I mean anyone can give out financial advice but you have the numbers to prove that you live what you succeed in what you write about.
    I remember a friend giving me tons of advice about how to take care of my African violets (even though they were blooming with tons of purple flowers) then admitted hers had died.
    You clearly have a green thumb when it comes to growing your savings!
    A valuable take home message is that you have reached your goals by working hard, even if you did have some good fortune along the way.

  54. Wow. YOU are killing it. 25 with a networth of over 200k that’s very impressive. I just recently posted my networth of over 100k and thought I was achieving something, but man oh man. I have to agre with you though. The reprocussions of posting ones net worth do have both negatives and positives. And while I personally believe that we do it to help others realize that this is a reality. Some don’t take too kind to it. However, I will be checking back to learn from you as well as check in on your progress.
    Thanks for sharing

  55. I definitely know how you feel! I didn’t put much thought into being transparent on my blog and actually shared my net worth in the first post I ever wrote. I always wonder what people are thinking about me when I’m around them in real life as most of the people I’m around know about my blog. If I could go back, I would probably remain anonymous, but it’s too late now! At least I’m still not ranking on the first page of google when you search my name.. Probably have a little while before that happens.

    I think sharing my net worth is a great thing for my readers though. The mission of my site is to show people that they can become millionaires if they implement the things I talk about. It will be cool several years from now to have the story of my net worth journey mapped out for people to see where I started and how I get to the end goal. Kudos for sharing yours! You have made a lot of great choices to set you up to where you are now.

    1. I think it’s awesome you shared! I am curious about what people think– if they think about it at all. I like to think that everyone is really focused a lot on their own lives more than Googling me 🙂

      I really like following your net worth reports. It shows the whole progress map, which is something which I lack. I felt like I looked up one day and suddenly had a hundred thousand saved up, which is not really a common experience! Thanks as always for your support.

  56. Love this post. My wife and I do track our networth and have debating on if we should share it or not. I love the idea of being transparent with money and have tried in my personal life. You can feel the awkwardness when you start to talk about it with some people so I just leave it alone. Do you think that sharing it gives you more credibility when talking with others about money?

    1. Hopefully the pros and cons were helpful! I have had mixed reactions with talking with people in real life. Sometimes I feel it out or just wait until something comes up — a friend using a credit card I know about, someone talking about saving, etc. I did not really think about the credibility factor as much at first just because you can be great with money and have a little of it because of unfortunate events or you could be a generational millionaire but terrible with money. However, if it helps my credibility I will take it!

  57. Very interesting! I definitely have a constant struggle with the scarcity mindset. I only recently realized how childhood poverty warped my relationship to money to mean that I’ll never feel like I have enough. In college, I also studied economics which was defined as “the allocation of scarce resources” and further reinforced the idea of a limit on what we can/should have.

    Both can definitely limit my risk-taking. This can be both good and limiting. I’m actively trying to shift to the abundance mindset. It’s good to continually reflect on how we relate to money. Thanks for writing this!

    1. It has probably served you well to not take too many risks (I’m not much of a risk-taker myself), but it can be amazing to see what people do when they let go of the fear and concentrate on abundance. I agree that it is good to reflect on our relationship with money– much like we reflect on our relationships with other people! Thanks for reading!

  58. Absofreakinglutely. I used to be the hungry ghost due to personal issues that I worked through, but next, financial woes led to a pernicious scarcity mindset thet I am still trying to shed. Thankfully I’ve placed myself in a state where most basic needs are met, I can save almost all of my take-home pay, and within eight weeks should be able to breathe much easier.

    I appreciate this overview & am glad to have found your blog!

  59. Great post! Your writing skills really come out, so it’s nice to have multiple talents. I did the same exact thing. Wanted to be a newspaper reporter (how dated is that) but growing up poor, I wanted to make the most money possible, so I did engineering. I applaud your efforts to be transparent about having some advantages. Not so much the net worth sharing, because, while impressive for your age, it’s still not a lot of money in wealth standards. It’s still something to be super proud of as an achievement. You’re developing such great habits that will give you leverage and freedom to make choices that work for you. I’ve kicked around the idea of sharing net worth, and I’ve mentioned in a post or two, but I really don’t like the idea, from a security standpoint and from what you mention about the job situation.Bosses will use it as leverage against your bargaining position. Anyway, I look forward to following along and watching your growth.

  60. Your psychological look at why we spend powerfully and cleverly dives deeper into the realm of what makes us happy.
    You can bet that just as you have reflected on the psychology of how we spend, advertisers have researched this also. As I sold goods at a craft fair today, I was first-hand able to observe people’s behavior. I noticed that some people purchased gifts that were priced higher even though the product at the lower price was exactly the same, perhaps due to a perception that the quality must be better. I also noticed that if someone was actively choosing to buy, then others would start buying as if to get in on the action lest they miss out.
    You are so right that it helps to know oneself so that you are not swayed by your whims or tricked by the ploys put out there in the commercial world.

    1. You bring up a great point around behavioral economics and how these psychological effects play into our buying decisions. It’s really interesting that you got to see it first hand! It’s interesting that even if we know something is a ploy that it can work on us– recently I was going to buy something online and it said there was a limited supply and my heart rate went up. I felt like I had to buy or else the offer would disappear! Usually, the reality is that there is plenty of supply to meet the demand.

  61. Thank you for this – another well-written and thoughtful piece. I love that you push back on the standard “wisdom” people have put in place.I can relate to this,as I, too, am not a Morning Person (more of a mid-morning person) and it is annoying that some of those who get going at the crack of dawn (I am thinking of you, Bob the Risk Manager!) regard others with disdain as though the rest of us are somehow less productive!
    Personally, I don’t follow the “if you can dream it, you can achieve it” crowd. While chasing dreams is fine for some, for me it just leads to dissatisfaction .I would rather dwell on what I feel good about. However, as a natural risk-taker, there are always plenty of fun projects that come along that I can jump into (usually new fix it projects!) to keep life from getting mundane.

  62. I am guilty of every single of these, as well. I’m totally the oddball night owl in a sea of early risers. I also found that for the most part, I never really needed or wanted to buy more than my income allowed, so a budget wasn’t needed. I noticed a lot of PF bloggers don’t use a budget, so it’d be interesting to try to figure out why!

  63. Wow! It sounds like you have an incredible amount of self-motivation and a very healthy sense of self. I completely agree that if these things don’t help you, you shouldn’t do them. We don’t have a budget (we do the anti-budget) because we don’t need it. We control our spending pretty well. Although we sometimes set micro-goals (such as when we were explicitly trying to reduce our food spending, although not to fit into any specific budget).

    I also think that there may come a time in your life where some of these habits (or different habits) would be helpful for you. If that time comes, that is okay too. It’s okay to not be able to do everything through willpower and self-motivation. As someone who has pretty intense anxiety, getting up early to have a morning routine of coffee, journaling, meditation, planning for my day, and being able to get ready at a leisurely pace allows me to prepare for any stress the day could bring. In fact, I would say, the routine is actually pretty necessary for me to be able to “successfully” make it through any given day.

    So maybe it isn’t that successful people do these things; it’s that some people need to do these things in order to be successful?

    When I started needing some of these habits/strategies/skills, it was hard to accept that I “couldn’t just do it myself” (through willpower and changing my attitude), and then I realized that the habits/strategies/skills ACTUALLY ARE me doing it myself. 🙂

    I hope you don’t need to use these strategies in the future, but I hope you will remember, that if you do, that’s okay too!

    Thanks for sharing,
    Jessica

    1. “So maybe it isn’t that successful people do these things; it’s that some people need to do these things in order to be successful?”
      Love this perspective. It’s okay to use strategies, develop new habits, try out new things to get things done the way we need. I won’t take it as a personal failure if I pick up these habits later on, and I certainly don’t think it is a failure to do these things in the first place! Thanks for your thoughts on this.

  64. Good post. In general, I’m with you. I do most of them, but often, inconsistently. Usually, I’m ok with it, because I’ve made significant progress, and I believe it’s counter productive to “beat ourselves up” too much. …however, when I see exponential growth is when I’m sticking to the things in the original list.

    1. Yes I think the techniques you use and the motivation behind them are important. There’s no denying that some of these tools majorly help people in their every day life. If it works for you, stick to it!

  65. I’ve tried to use a “to do” app on my phone and it just isn’t for me! Although I have a more orderly/organized personality, I just don’t like feeling like I have to do things in a certain time frame or in a certain order. I’ve found I’m more happy when I chose what I do each day instead of having to do what I’ve written down in the past. Great post!

  66. Thanks for sharing this. It’s always interesting to take a peek into how other financial bloggers manage their finances.

    Having just moved from Australia to USA for this year’s mini-retirement, I also encountered the issue of not having a credit score here. I found that Capital One’s Secured Mastercard was a good option for those starting out or trying to repair bad credit. I had to put $49 on it to get an initial $200 credit limit (!) but with five months of on-time repayments, users can achieve a decent credit score and can apply for other more useful cards from there.

    1. Secured credit cards are a great way to get started! I didn’t know they were an option at first, if I had been denied Discover I probably would have gone down that path. I’ve met a couple Aussies this year on a visa here so that is useful to pass on!

  67. What a great idea to survey other people on their toolkit.
    I lingered at the signature picture of the pegboard for tool organization!
    Always looking for new ideas…
    Anyway, I was very interested in the different ways to track ones wealth. Are you not worried about a hacker getting your private information?
    Signed fixitlady!

    1. I even know how to code in VBA, the language behind Excel and I still prefer automated budget trackers! I don’t have the same discipline to input everything into Excel…

  68. My older boys have been really enjoying Smash Bros-they just got it for Christmas from Grandma. Also I ❤️ Great British Bake-off and watch it often. It usually inspires me to bake too many yummy things that I probably shouldn’t. ?

    1. Bake-off always makes me crave a treat or two, it’s a dangerous show! We made a Victoria Sponge Cake the other week after watching it and I definitely appreciate the skill of those bakers a lot more now. Smash bros has been a hit (pun intended) in our household too!

  69. First apartment out of college was <300 sqft (and a basement studio no less O_o), and then we moved into a ~600 sqft apartment after calculating the amount of floor space all our "required" possessions take up (and adding in a buffer factor since, you know, walking). Turns out the little office room we had was really only used for storage, and we rarely if ever used our kitchen table. The basement (not included in the 600 sqft estimate) just became a "deal with it later" dump, and we kept buying things we already had because we didn't know we had them.

    *Just* moved into a ~350 sqft apartment in Seattle and loving it so far (2 humans and elderly doggo, AND I'm working from home and need a separate, ergonomic office setup). Still need to unpack, so we'll see how that goes, but I have a vision for how everything will be laid out. It does involve some creative use of space (e.g. our bed is a transformer (though not a futon because I've never met a futon frame that wasn't at least a little bit uncomfortable)), and we got rid of a lot of things that are sometimes useful (e.g. sewing machine I used once in five years, as well as six boxes of books), but it's going to force us to come to terms with everything we own on a daily basis, instead of putting it off til the next move.

    Woo boy was that rambly! Anyways, let me know if you ever want to chat space saving ideas 😉

    1. Wow, 350 sq ft with two AND a dog! I love the idea of using the space creatively. I can look at tiny houses all day because of the way everything is built so intentionally. Getting rid of things that are sometimes useful is definitely one of the most difficult pieces for us. It would be so much easier if most of those things would just disappear, I’m sure we would never even notice. I know there are garages where you can rent out tools, and of course libraries for renting books. I think shared/rented items will keep growing in popularity and convenience! I am definitely interested in keeping up with your space saving ideas!

  70. Wow, that’s pretty good. How were my December expenses?? Well let’s see…Firstly I spent way more that $18 on fuel (oh that;s right you sold your car) then way more on eating out. How do you not have expenses for entertainment like going to the movies, going out for drinks etc? Also, do you include all things bought at the supermarket under groceries or is this just food because $126 seems very low if its everything. What about cable bill, clothes, stuff for the house, nails and hair? Maybe you have eliminated those costs. If so, good for you!
    P.S. Love the British Baking Show as well
    P.P.S. those drawings are awesome. I think I see a new side hustle opportunity for you!!

    1. All things bought at the supermarket goes under groceries because I am not diligent enough to pick out individual things from the receipts. It is definitely low! I talk more about our grocery spending here: https://financialmechanic.com/2018/08/12/the-mechanics-guide-to-meal-planning/ . It was especially low for this month because we spent so much time with family (and they are quite gracious with feeding us lots of delicious holiday food!)

      We don’t have cable, I am trying to spend $0 this year on clothes, we rent, and we do our own hair (and nails) in the Mechanic household!

      P.S. The last episode made me crave a pistachio cake and I’ve never even had one.
      P.P.S. Thank you very much!

  71. Thanks for your transparency. I’m waiting to be back from vacation so that I can check and report on how we did in 2018. Overall, I foresee our expenses being higher in 2018 compared to 2017 but that is ok. Our family grew in size so that is priceless. What I’m most interested in is in estimating my savings rate so stay tuned for that. Thanks for this post and keep it up.

    1. Yeah, the savings rate is a good metric to keep track of. I look forward to seeing your report on 2018. Thanks for your encouragement!

    1. Whoa I did not know about that tax credit! Thank you for alerting me to that, definitely something to take advantage of.

  72. That is a beautiful graph. How did you make it?

    Incredible spending. We spend that in two months. Congrats! Love seeing all that money flow to savings and retirement. Well done.

    1. Yes, completely separate finances. These numbers are just my personal spending! Mr. Mechanic spends a similar amount as me so I imagine that when we combine, our expenses will be about double. Thanks for the encouragement, I’m looking forward to it!

    1. Nice! Concerts were definitely highlights even though we only went to a couple. We also went to see Punch Brothers in September, at the zoo! It was a gift so it didn’t make it onto the expense report, but it was very different from the death metal concert.

  73. It is very interesting to view someone else’s actual spending (versus an article saying what other people spend). What hit home to me was how difficult it must be for a lot of low or minimum wage earners. I mean you have spending down to an absolute minimum ($18 for all year for clothes!) with no kids to pay for, and yet you still spent $20,000 which is $40,000 for two. A national average teachers salary is $38,617. No wonder people end up in debt or have nothing saved for retirement!

    Nice photographs by the way.

    1. Thank you! It was interesting to see the comparison at least in a few categories I was working on. I’m hoping that better record keeping now will make it easier in the upcoming years 🙂

  74. Nice breakdown of your expenses! I need to try the SankeyMatic tool sometime with our numbers.

    I had 5 work trips to the UK in 2018 but didn’t really take advantage of going anywhere else in Europe. On your side trips, which city or country did you enjoy most?

    Dragon Guy

    1. I highly recommend it! I was not very familiar with the relation to my income and expenses but the Sankey diagram helped a lot.

      Hmm each trip was so different! I would say Amsterdam was amazing, even in the winter, but my very favorite was Budapest. I was travelling alone but I met a ton of people at the hostel that really made the experience memorable. Plus the hot baths were very welcome when it was cold. How long were your work trips? For one trip in 2017 we took a train to Scotland which was also a great place to stop by.

  75. I signed up for a subscription after careful considering it for the last 3 years. I decided to sign up for Spotify family (and split it with my fiance’) as part of a christmas gift for my parents so that they can have spotify premium. I previously considered giving them Pandora’s subscription, but we prefer spotify and decided to split it with them. Although I hate paid subscriptions, I hope that my parents will enjoy being able to hear any song that they want on demand, and the artists who made the music deserve to be paid.

    1. It sounds like a very intentional monthly subscription! I enjoy Spotify, especially now that it’s set up with our Amazon Echo. Besides, as you’re sharing with your family you’re getting even more value out of it. I approve!

  76. We loved Budapest a lot when we went in 2012; we loved the large public bath there!

    Most of my trips were 1 week. There was a 2.5 week trip in the summer where Dragon Gal came for most of it. We managed to do a weekend trip to Isle of Wight which is off the southern coast. One of the consultants I work with would fly to continental Europe on Friday night, spend two days in a different city, and then take the train over to London early Monday morning….that’s what I should have done, but learned about his approach too late.

  77. Thanks for the mention here! I’ll wear the mantle of ‘frugal fraud’ with pride. It’s true: there are certain line items in my budget that I enjoy using but pay little-to-nothing for them.

    Like you expressed, I likely wouldn’t make use of those things if they were costing me a subscription fee, so I don’t think I am misrepresenting my living expenses by having $0 figures for things like tv streaming services.

    Keep up the great writing!

    1. I wouldn’t consider you a frugal fraud! I think it’s perfectly viable to use free signups to try out tv streaming services. They wouldn’t let people do it if they weren’t making money. They just don’t have to make money off of you 😉

  78. I think one of the reasons that the monthly subscription bill for a household is much higher than the person estimated is because family members sign up without thinking to inform other family members. Another reason is free trials. I have almost fallen into this trap several times. I sign up for 30 days free but then the payments kick in 30 days later because I forgot to cancel. Even after you cancel sometimes they still bill you as if to see if you will notice.
    I appear to be getting Amazon Prime. I have no idea how as I have not signed up to my knowledge. It is quite possible someone in the family clicked on the free trial button during the crazy ordering Holiday season. I know I have almost done so many times on that last check out page.I should probably check that I am not getting billed for it….

    1. Definitely! There is a reason companies do so many free trials, it works to retain customers. It is another good reason to keep track of spending, you will notice if $10-20 goes somewhere you don’t expect.

  79. We share an Amazon prime account with my MIL. I might still use the Amazon service without her. I don’t understand Netflix. There is nothing on that platform I find interesting. I’m a mother of 4 young kids, and nope, the cartoons don’t look that good either. We like older shows and movies. We use pirate bay and get stuff from the 50s-80s mostly. It’s more a question of value. If I really livelwhat Netflix offered, I’d probably get my own account. But the better bet would be Amazon firestick.

    1. The Amazon firestick is definitely intriguing. I agree completely that it’s a question of value and how much you and your family get out of each subscription.

  80. This is a very thoughtful post on expenses that most people don’t even plan for until it is too late and thus fund it with credit cards.

    Kudos to you for thinking so far ahead that you had an interview savings account lined up. Very clever of you and you were way ahead of me financially at that stage in my career for doing so.

    I graduated medical school in 1997. I went to Temple University and was out of state. I borrowed $40k/yr which was the maximum and that did cover room and board. It is mind boggling that $40k/yr in tuition alone is considered a bargain at an instate school.

    To get that many interviews at a competitive specialty like Radiology speaks volumes about your academics (I’m biased since I’m a radiologist myself). Hope all the effort ends up in a happy match for you in March. Keep us posted.

    1. The costs have definitely ballooned. Thankfully I had classmates in years ahead of me and our excellent financial advisor to warn ahead of time.
      Thanks for your kind words! I will be sure to follow up, and I’m sure FM will have lots of new material as we plan our eventual move.

  81. Thank you for this thoughtful breakdown of interview costs! I remember it being a real hassle and I definitely wasn’t as smart as you when I was doing it. I’m sure this will help many coming up being you!

    1. I tried to make it as authentic + interesting as possible, and hopefully a resource for later! I definitely benefited from the advice of years above me and need to pay it forward.

  82. Wow. The numbers are truly staggering. I went to UCLA for medical school and as a California resident, tuition was only $18,000 a year. I took out $12,000 a year for living expenses because Los Angeles is expensive.

    I spent around $1,500 on residency interviews. I interviewed at 10 places total. There’s 6 anesthesia residency programs in the greater Los Angeles area. All were easily drivable so I would put that expense as $100 in gasoline.

    I had 4 interviews in New York City. They were all in a 8-10 day span. I bought one round trip ticket and stayed at one of my friend’s high rise apartment in downtown Manhattan. He let me stay there for free, which significantly cut down my costs. The NYC subway wasn’t terribly expensive, my total was probably $100 including subway, buses, and cabs. The majority of my expenses were food and entertainment. My buddy showed me a good time in New York!

    1. Wow, I wish I could have clustered my schools that efficiently! I went polar opposite and avoided most of the bigger places like NYC or LA, but it definitely meant a lot more travel to reach those more rural locales.

  83. Thanks for lots of tips on travelling efficiently and cost effectively! Good job on getting the cost down to about half of what they warned you it would be. Its great that you tried to enjoy a little of what each city had to offer so that you could at least have some fun in what must have otherwise been an arduous process! And that Maine lobster roll looks awesome!

    1. I was expecting steaming hot, but it was cold! Fresher taste I guess, and it’s amazing how clearly the buttery flavor came through. If you haven’t guessed, food is an absolute highlight wherever I travel, that lobster roll was definitely not a regret in the slightest.

  84. Beautiful article on what can be hard to pin down logistics. Before Airbnb, there was a friend’s friend from undergrad and his or her couch, and that was a huge gift because it was free and was usually a med student (walkable to interview!). I’m impressed by your resourcefulness in the face of adversity, Mr. Mechanic.

    Interviews are basically a financial sieve with last minute transportation and so many other thoughts filling your mind, so any dollars you can save are doubly impressive achievements.

    Fondly,

    CD

    1. I hate to impose on people, so it was great to find reasonable accommodation most places. Even then, it’s crazy how high the numbers climb with so many days on the road. Also, I absolutely echo the feeling that finances and travel are at the back of your mind during the trips, being so focused on your current place makes it hard to sit down and book the next batch of flights!

  85. Wow, this is nuts! My little sister is currently pre-med and I’m planning on saving a little bit each year to help her along. I’m hoping she’ll get into NYU (free tuition anyone?!) or that more schools start offering free tuition… If not, she goes to school in California so hopefully she can become a resident before starting medical school.

    She wants to become a pediatrician (which is cool!), but I worry about $200k-$300k in medical school loans she’ll take out worst case scenario.

    1. NYU is a crazy deal! I was definitely more than a little jealous. Then again, my school is at least cheaper than many in California. If she wants to do Peds, she should do it! Much better to pursue what you love over the paycheck; even if it means more years of work, it’s work you find so much more fulfilling.

  86. I would definitely be buying the fancy cheeses given these kind of funds, though I’m sure I’d reach ‘peak cheese’ after only a few days. Sounds like an interesting experiment to have tried. It’s empowering to realise that your own default level of frugal spending on food is actually what serves your happiness best.

    1. The funny thing is that cheese was actually surprisingly affordable in England, so I could buy a ton of it without registering a blip in my budget. It was definitely empowering to realise that the default wasn’t deprivation. I am pleased with the experiment– rather than missing out on all those meals out, I now appreciate home cooking even more!

  87. I would love to feel free to buy the most expensive thing on the menu once in a while but I can see how it would fail to feel special quickly. I must admit that a recent business trip paid for by the company felt ridiculously easy because everything was taken care of. I think I would grow soft if I always traveled like that.
    I was born in the UK so I enjoyed your post and the UK references (M & S, Nandos etc). I didn’t know they now have Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

    1. Yes once in a while it’s nice to splash out, and if you have a bit of budge in the budget it can be nice for a special occasion because you appreciate it even more! Yes, Sofa So Good is unfortunately a British-only flavour so I will have to start campaigning to bring it here!

  88. This is so interesting! Cheese is pricey here, so I’ve wondered if I should ever have it since I am still paying off a lot of debt. But I have adjusted to not eating out at all easily, in part because it’s easier to cook meals I like at home than to find their Western counterparts (and I eat Chinese food free for lunch at work every day).

    1. How much would a block of cheddar be? When I was in Asia (Nepal) cheese was a scarce resource. It was a dark time.

      Yum, free lunch every day sounds great! How difficult is it to cook up Western meals at home? I find that sometimes it’s tricky to get the right ingredients.

  89. I hear ya on the cost and dietary concerns with dining out. I lived in Italy for two years and gained probably close to 20lbs in that time. There is literally a pitcher of wine in the center of the table at all times! What’s not to love!? Lol. When I returned home I reverted to normal thank goodness.

    Even though dining out seems to be the easy button, my wife and I really enjoy cooking at home. It brings us together a bit more, contributes more to our long term happiness and well….saves us loads of cash.

    Nice post! I love the pics of the food. I want to stiff one of those sconds in my mouth! Lol

    1. Living in Italy is the dream. I don’t blame you for putting on some pounds! Sometimes the easy button is not the best button 🙂 It sounds like you and your wife have found the joy in cooking at home, love it! And trust me, they were mere crumbs in minutes.

    1. Thank you! It really helps I’m only directly responsible for my food and transportation at the moment. Otherwise it would be a much different money diary! (as for the cat, he’s ridiculously adorable and very aware of that fact!)

  90. Not sure about the “ton of snow” comment….we only got a few inches for petes sake. Thought that time out in the Midwest would have toughened you up a bit 😛

    But seriously….welcome to the area and congrats on the new job! You will love it here, lots of stuff to see and do that is very low cost. (Except when the government is shut down, in which case it’s not as much fun.) Spring and summer in DC are pretty nice. Traffic isnt so much fun, but you cant have everything i guess 🙂 Having the Metro definitely helps.

    Also keep up the great work on the podcast! You and J seem to have a lot of fun with it, and the energy comes through. Fun to listen to on the way in to work each week!

    1. Thanks Jim! You might have only gotten a few inches…. We got 10! That qualifies as a lot to this native Midwesterner. I am so excited for spring to get here. I can’t wait to ride my bike all over the place and see the sights! Hopefully by then the govt will be back in action.

  91. Really interesting post, and I can sort of relate (though only in the limited context of being able to order delivery food to be charged to the client or firm when I worked late in biglaw – usually the maximum budget is ~$35-$40 for dinner that way at NYC firms, and keeping in mind that a first-year associate bills $450/hour, it’s a negligible line item for the client). After a short while, the novelty of being able to order almost anything one wants really fades, most people would rather just go home earlier and eat what one normally eats even if one has to pay for it instead of the cost going to the client. In my case though, that’s generally just takeout from a cheaper restaurant in my home neighborhood.

    1. That makes a lot of sense. Eventually going home simply has a higher value than eating whatever we want. I think it takes a while for people just out of school to cultivate that value of their own time, but it happens! It definitely took me a while before I was like, “I’m just sitting in these restaurants waiting around most of the time.” It wasn’t bad, but some nights I wanted to do more than just sit and read.

  92. Hello there, I read with attention because I faced this phenomenon myself when I was an expatriate. In short I earned much more per month but besides an occasional splurge, I did not change my habits much, all in all I was spending approximately the same as before enjoying the local delicacies and cook at home most of the time. I looked around on the internet but did not find a name for the phenomenon of not wanting to have more even though you have more so thanks for the study 🙂

    1. It’s cool to hear from someone else who had a similar experience. The term for wanting more even though you have enough is hedonistic adaptation, but I think the phenomenon of not wanting more is called contentment 🙂

  93. I would definitely get the gauc at Chipotle. And I’d splurge on organic foods a bit more. And get fresh meats instead of frozen. But it’s not like I can automatically intake *more* food just because I have a bigger food budget. And I don’t like eating out so much because I can’t typically get exactly what I want (…broccoli. I typically just want broccoli and instead they always do some sort of “veggie blend” as a side which is never that great).

    1. Aw man I was going to mention guac at Chipotle in this post and then forgot! I would definitely get guac, every time. It would be my downfall.

      I agree, you can’t actually eat *more*, though you could eat better. The scale to better isn’t too steep though if you continue to not need very much or simply eat a lot of veggies.

  94. Hi financialmechanic,

    While I think your blog is great, I have to leave a comment regarding your takeaway – I do think you’re being a financial fraud with freeloading on the Netflix/Spotify/Amazon prime subscription. I mean, of course you said you could live without these services or just use the free version but have you actually tried?

    I was on Spotify free for 1 month after having my free premium subscription from my phone company ended and it was basically unbearable. I don’t even listen to music all that often and the number of ads that popped up and not having the ability to skips songs I disliked made the service unusable. I quickly started a paid family account with 5 of my closest friends again so I don’t have to pay the full price. I also pay my share of my Netflix account with my two other close friends and I do not have an Amazon Prime account. It just seems to me that you’re freeloading on other people’s generosity. Pretty much the equivalent of people freeloading off their parents by living at home, doing no housework and paying no rent.

    BTW, my yearly share of Netflix with my friends is about $60 and my family Spotify share is $30. It’s not 0 but I’m more then happy to share the costs.

    1. Hi Alex, I actually agree with you. One should contribute by bearing the cost of a subscription in some way. Some people share HBO access to their friend who gives them Netflix. Others do what you do– split between friends. I try by picking up a dinner tab or helping out with things like dog sitting, drives to the airport, etc. The yearly share is still low that way and everyone benefits. To your question: yes I have gone without. For the most part I would just forgo using them. I like Pandora or 8Tracks or Spotify for the occasional song but I don’t listen to much music, etc. However, your point about freeloading still stands. I think it’s important to contribute value in some way and if you are not contributing, you are freeloading. I suppose I’ve avoided some guilt since the subscriptions are spread across a few different people who are genuinely happy to share, but the honest truth is that if I’m not pitching in, I’m not doing my part. You’ve convinced me to ask how I can contribute, and to find out if I’m not contributing enough.

      1. Hi Financialmechanic,

        I appreciate you taking the time to leave me a reply and I hope I wasn’t being too abrasive in my initial comment. I read a lot of financial blogs and sometimes it rubs me the wrong way to see some bloggers (not you!) talk about saving $$ and spending 0 on certain things when they get lots of sponsorship items/money from blog traffic and they had a leg up on saving by living rent free at home for 5+ years and no one calls them out in the comments.

        I just want to commend you for being so open about your life and your finances and thanks again for taking the time to reply to my comment.

        Alex

  95. Gwen, I enjoyed reading your post. It looks like your food expense is primarily for lunches. It is amazing how $10 lunches can add up over a month! I am so glad that my work offers lunch at cost so only$2 or so a day.

    1. For now, yes it is. I don’t really have great access to a kitchen or supplies to bulk prep lunches, so I eat at work for now. Unfortunately, they have a captive audience and charge me a premium for the food. Sigh. Still, it’s better in the long run for me to pay for lunches than it is to pay for housing of my own and bring my lunches to work.

  96. Great post. I’ve definitely run similar unofficial ‘experiments’ during my travels for work, but I never really sat down and looked at the results. I’ve come to the same conclusions as you though- spending extra doesn’t necessarily result in more satisfaction.

    I had a trip to Taiwan and Japan last year, where I ate seafood, sushi and fancy beef like an animal for 2 weeks. The monetary cost actually wasn’t so bad, but my stomach revolted with about 3 days left on the trip. I learned my lesson- moderation is key, especially with raw beef!

    1. Sometimes it takes overindulgence to find moderation! Or at least to realize we are happy with our own moderation after all. Seafood, sushi and fancy beef — yum. Now I want to go to Taiwan/Japan.

  97. I love daily breakdowns like this! It’s literally a chance to crawl inside of someone else’s life and I live in a low key rural area right now, so it’s good to have reminders about the way the rest of the world lives.

    The cat part is so relatable. As someone into history, I’m trying to guess what the movie is at the end, but I have no idea!

    1. I think I would enjoy doing something like that! I try to do some public speaking on similar things, but I haven’t ever done a corporate training event. Thanks for reading!

  98. Haha fixitlady nailed it. I thought the same thing. This is super relatable to nearly every project or hobby I have worked on. Getting through that valley of pain is tough but it’s paid off greatly when things were finished.

    We teach this in my continuous process improvement classes regarding change management. Getting through the valley of pain, persistence, small goals, and proper planning are all key fundamentals for lean, six sigma, CPI. Awesome article.

    1. It’s amazing how these concepts have spread in all those different areas! I like to think that advice for businesses or scrappy start-ups are just as applicable for an individual. I agree– the payoff for getting through the valley is tough but pays off. Bloggers like you know the pain! Keep on keeping on 🙂

  99. Great reminder to focus on nurturing your flywheel. I think for most people their flywheel will include specific expertise (and therefore nurturing your professional development), supportive people (therefore nurturing your network) and capital/ resources to invest (therefore nurturing your personal finances). In my work in HR consulting, I see lots of careers, and I see too many people so focused on their day-to-day that they don’t nurture their flywheel with professional training, regular networking, getting their finances in order, and then a career setback happens and they are caught unawares.

    1. I really like that you have identified those three things for each person’s flywheel. It is easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day and forget that professional development, networking, and personal finances can continue to pay dividends into the future. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I think it is helpful to start by thinking about those three when considering a personal flywheel!

  100. I like the concept of the flywheel. Not quite sure what mine is. Perhaps the blog, which takes a lot of work with only incremental progress made. All I can do is dedicate myself to posting more regularly and reading more blogs for inspiration and hope that it helps!

    1. Yeah blog writing is definitely a flywheel for me, too! It takes a lot of effort and time with little measurable reward in the beginning. Here’s what I came up with for a blogger flywheel: 1. write good content 2. post regularly 3. read other blogs 4. build relationships 5. act on feedback 6. generate ideas

  101. This post goes very in-depth referencing personal situations and broader companies out in the world (like Amazon and Vanguard). This type of analyzation is my favorite (micro/macro) – nicely done!

    P.S. I l would like to adopt the language “anticipate complications” vs. “worry like a crazy mo-fo.” I like your blogger flywheel suggestion in the comments too. You could totally do a post on that!

    1. I’m glad you appreciated the micro/macro approach, I was hoping I wasn’t bouncing around too much between a company approach vs. individual. That’s a good idea! I was thinking a lot about blogging while writing this post since it is how I have been trying to set up my blog. One small thing at a time.

  102. This is great, loving it! Agreed I believe you could give corporate trainings regarding this, maybe an idea for an extra side hustle to achieve financial independence sooner? 😉

    1. I really have to pick a side-hustle and run with it! 😉 I wonder if any companies will hire a 25-year-old who says they have the secret sauce.

  103. I bought into the hype of a Kinect. I did use it for a while, but not nearly long enough for the $100 price tag. And once we moved to our house, it never got set back up. Sigh.

  104. I love your opening paragraph! I may have to quote that one day. A really important tool for your financial toolkit is knowing about taxes. There’s a great resource for Canadians that has all sorts of calculators for figuring out whether you should contribute more to tax advantaged investments, borrow to invest. etc. at taxtips.ca In the US Mad Fientist has done a fair bit on US tax optimization. Now I know taxes are a super boring subject, but they’re really important in everyone’s long term FI plans.

    1. Yes! Knowledge about taxes, deductions, and tax advantaged accounts can save you thousands along the line. It’s too bad that we’ve branded taxes as boring, when it’s something we should all be educated about.

  105. I’ve always been terrible about making an appointment to get my hair cut and managed at most two a year but I cut my hair myself for the first time this summer and just recently I started noticing the ends tangling again so I trimmed it again. I borrowed my sister’s shears the first time before I committed to buying my own pair. AND my spouse agreed to let me trim the hair around his ears and neckline for the first time. I’ve been trying to convince him to get his hair cut short on the sides and long on the top to increase the time between haircuts and that I could keep the part around the ears tidy for him. He’s been frustrated that so much of his “allowance” was going toward paying for haircuts. (we started aggressively tracking personal spending choices recently to get more transparency on where money was going.)
    I trimmed only a little this last time and after a few days the ends still seemed tangly so I cut my hair again taking off a little more. I did clip my knuckle this time while point cutting the ends – those scissors are sharp!

    1. We started with my hair first the same way, and then I just did Mr. Mechanic’s hair a couple weeks ago. He was much more nervous about me trimming his hair than I was about him trimming mine!

      Indeed, the scissors are crazy sharp. I accidentally poked Mr. Mechanic’s ear– definitely a learning process. It’s amazing how simple it is after we were done, and how much of a cost saver it can be too!

  106. I love this!
    My mom has always cut my hair until I went to high school and wanted to have a ‘fashionable’ hair cut.
    Then in University I didn’t care anymore so a friends’ mom cut it for about 2x per year. Now the past 3 years I’ve only been to the hair dresser once, and itsi been free since I’ve donated my hair.

    BUT my SO goes every 6 weeks and I wanted to learn how to cut his hair in forever, so YouTube tutorials it’s on!

    1. I was the exact same. My mom cut my hair but I cared way more in high school and went to get it cut elsewhere. If your SO wants a short to medium cut I can share the video we used!

  107. Our town has a trivia night every Thursday and an annual Harry Potter Party, so needless to say, I was especially drawn to this blog post. I’ve dressed up as Moaning Myrtle and the Helena Bonham-Carter character several times! Since I don’t drink, these are social events that cost me nothing (while my husband probably drinks enough to make up for me). He’ll embarrass himself with cheap beers at these awesome breweries though, so at least there is that! BTW, I think you killed it on the groceries! If you ever have time for a breakdown of that, I’d be intrigued… I recently realized our groceries are our largest expense right now. I have some hacking to learn.

    1. Your town sounds amazing! One of the questions we bombed was the name of the actress for Moaning Myrtle 🙁
      The ticket included a beer so the $10 was a pretty good value I thought.
      Yeah I think I’d like to do a post on grocery shopping. I talked a bit about the average consumer in this post: https://financialmechanic.com/the-mechanics-guide-to-meal-planning/ but it is more about meal planning than the actual shopping we do. Thanks for the idea!

  108. Great post on love and money. I think having common goals and good communication is the key. Your story sounds very similar to my wife and me. Initially we split bills but paid for our individual expenses, then we finally got a joint credit card. Now that we’ve been married a few years and produced an offspring, our finances are getting a little bit more entangled. But the key is that we’re on the same page and we complement each other’s strengths (her frugality and my organization skills).

    1. I think it’s nice to go gradually into the entanglement. It’s great that you are on the same page in your marriage and that you have complementing strengths! I know it takes a lot for many couples to get on that same page so I’m grateful we are both frugal weirdos, it made it a bit easier. Cheers!

  109. So far I’ve been financially single my whole life and I love reading about how couples handle money since one day I’ll be having conversations about how to split finances with a significant other. Thanks for the food for thought!

    1. I feel grateful that we didn’t get married right away because being financially single has been truly amazing for my personal finance journey. I definitely feel more ownership and autonomy with my own money and decisions, so I’ll be sure to update what we do should we ever tie the knot! Thanks for reading :)!

  110. It’s awesome that you and Mr. Mechanic have many of the same goals in life! Not only are you both on the same page about frugality but you both want to live abroad? Awesome!

    1. I feel pretty lucky that I found someone who would move across the world with me! It’s definitely a goal for both of us in the next 10 years.

  111. We joined our day to day finances and credit cards about 7 years ago. It has been great, all the income comes into one account, our monthly savings are automatically moved to each of our investment accounts. Bills are all taken care of, the rest is there for either of us to use for groceries or discretionary spending. We really like that there is no discussion anymore about who ‘paid’ for what. The only growing pain was my constant tracking of the account/CC. I’d be out of town at work and be texting questions about some $40 purchase that I didn’t recognize! LOL I’ve gotten better, and most importantly we have matching goals and expectations.

    1. You should see me when I do my monthly expense reports, “Honey, what is this $10 thing for BRTO? Oh it’s that burrito I got for lunch… what about this $40 mystery? Oh, it’s the stuff I ordered from Amazon…”

      That sounds like a really efficient way to organize everything! I like the idea of different investment accounts, we might implement that if/when we combine. Thanks for the idea.

  112. I always enjoy reading about how other couples handle money. Ours is totally pooled, and has been for years but it wasn’t until the past few years that we started the communication that really makes it work. We’ve also gotten a lot better about the “sharing strengths” approach you describe. It used to be very divided, but now we talk through the how regularly. It’s been a necessity for us to truly be on the same page with financial independence.

    It sounds like you’ve got a great match AND the systems to make it work!

    1. I love that you made the effort to share your strengths with each other! It definitely helps with getting on the same page, because it aligns the smaller and bigger pictures together. I feel pretty lucky I matched with someone compatible AND that there are tools to make it easier. I’m glad you’ve managed to get the communication going to make it all work together!

  113. First, I need to say that I got chills by looking at the picture at the beginning of your post. It reminded me of that gut wrenching scene from Fried Green Tomatoes! Anyway, I love the title, Love or Money! Very creative. They say that not being aligned as far as money is one of the top reasons relationships fail tso this is a very important topic. Opposites definitely don’t attract in this context. How can a saver be at peace with a spender, right? Anyway, I think that in the absence of money woes a joint account works. And I think that turning a blind eye to the occasional treat that one’s partner bought for themselves is good too. I am almost glad to see one of those on the visa bill. I say nothing but make a mental note. That way when I want to treat myself to something that will make me happy I suffer zero guilt about it!
    Keep posting!

    1. I haven’t seen Fried Green Tomatoes but now maybe I should put it on my list!

      I think it’s possible for savers to be at peace with spenders but it definitely takes more work to get aligned than if you are with someone who matches your style. It’s definitely good to have some budget money set aside for some treats once in a while! Thanks for reading.

  114. Lot of wisdom in this…particularly around the point that there’s no one way that is right for every couple. We go with everything in a joint account that almost everything comes out from. But then we each have ‘pocket money’ accounts that are totally private that we can spend on whatever we like.

    One thing that struck me from your list of facets of money management is that those are pretty sound guidelines to everything in a relationship not just the money bit! If we have the same goals and expectations and we keep talking then none of us should go too far wrong.

    1. Very good point! These are definitely skills needed for a relationship, regardless of how the money questions shake out.

  115. The Appa is so cute! I loved that guy in Last Airbender!

    Back to the matter at hand, I was the CFO in our family, and it definitely didn’t work. My husband remained clueless about how much he was spending — even with my telling him over and over — so it led to a lot of resentment on my part. But he kept insisting that his severe ADD kept him from being able to keep track. Looking back, I should’ve insisted because, once we were separated, he was shocked at how much he’d been spending on some things (again, despite my repeatedly telling him how much it was when we were together). But oh well. Lesson learned for any future relationships. In any future ones, I think we’ll have a shared account for shared expenses but keep separate ones for most spending.

    1. I loved him too! Mr. Mechanic, it turns out, is particular towards Momo, but Appa is forever my favorite.

      It sounds like when money became your responsibility– it ALL became your responsibility, including managing your husband’s spending. That’s a lot of pressure on one person, especially if he doesn’t cooperate with you. It can be hard to share responsibilities because there are just some things you’d rather not do, but if you were alone you would have to do them! Oftentimes it improves you as an overall person (which it sounds like after separating was the hard reality for him!)

  116. I love everything about this article. I would love to see some academic research into women applying for jobs, because anecdotally in education, I feel like that’s true. (I’ve talked to women who won’t apply for positions unless they check all the required AND preferred boxes; men will stretch even if they are missing a “required” qualification).

    I also find that it is easier for people to label women’s spending as “frivolous” by men, even though spending on appearance has a much stronger correlation to women’s incomes than it does to men’s. Like even in the PF/FIRE world, lattes are villainized, while craft beer is lauded. I’m sure that has nothing at all to do with the gender breakdown of the preferred tasty beverage. Nothing at all (see my eyes rolling here).

    1. I would love to see some research to back it up as well!

      Yes, I definitely agree. Men’s spending is seen as necessary– a watch is a necessary tool right? It has nothing to do with status… And a woman’s make up is only about vanity right? It has nothing to do with her making a living… I also never really connected the way the PF/FIRE space divide lattes vs. craft beer. I hadn’t considered the gender breakdown there either but wow you are so right!

  117. I’d also like to add that even in FIRE, makeup seems labeled as shallow and villainous, while things like CrossFit are lauded… anecdotally, I’d say it seems men spend more on electronics, cars, and the aforementioned craft beer, which are culturally acceptable, while women’s “personal care” and clothes spending are seen as frivilous. Yet it would take a whole lotta nice blouses to equal one vehicle, and a lot more makeup to equal an iPhone, etc.

    1. Good point. We’re all socialized to buy into certain things and the things men buy into tend to be lauded for being useful tools, whereas women’s purchases are seen as more frivolous. Even in the fitness sector– the respect for CrossFit is huge but Zumba and Yoga? Not so much. Unfortunately, you’re right that it translates to people handing out advice in the FIRE community as well.

  118. Thank you for tackling this important topic. Unfortunately, women have been seen as incompetent in many areas for far too long, simply because historically they weren’t allowed to learn about those areas or perform those tasks, not because they CAN’T do them. I remember in college I used a Candid Camera clip for a presentation from at least the 1950s. It featured people getting ready to board a plane, who were told the pilot was a woman. BOTH men and women were severely distressed at the idea of a woman pilot. It seems funny now, but that wasn’t that long ago.

    1. That clip sounds interesting and also it makes me so sad. Hopefully now we are all severely distressed by their sexism! It’s unfortunate that women can prove over and over that they are capable and yet still fight against these entrenched doubts.

  119. Can’t believe women had to have a man cosign for a loan right up until 1974!

    I have to say, I always thought Myth 1 was based on verifiable research so it shows how certain “facts” just enter our consciousness and we don’t question them anymore.

    1. On articles like this I try to read as much as I can about both sides. I did find some convincing arguments against Myth 1 in an article written in 2014 called The Confidence Gap. However, this article also references the confidential report from HP, and some of the other ‘studies’ it references were based on a sample size of fewer than 100 students! I found the study about women asking the same amount to have more compelling research behind it overall.

  120. Powerful reflection (as always) with some fantastic and interesting stats. Thank you!

    “Rather than being more like a man in a man’s world, we should make the world more equitable in the first place.”

    I think this is such a powerful quote. I remember really diving deep to understand my ambition as a young girl and wondering how much easier it would be to be a boy. How sad is that? To be thinking such thoughts in elementary school? I haven’t reflected on it for a long time until this post. I had two older brothers and they seemed to sail through issues without having to process them as much as me. This could be because of a lot of factors. Either way, I love being a woman now, but it took me so long to get here (feeling comfortable and not confused with my gender role, loving my body in a healthy way, respecting myself as a career-oriented person and mother, etc.) It’s amazing how this has everything (and yet nothing) to do with money. Fascinating stuff!

    1. I had the exact same experience in elementary school. I vividly remember wishing that I could be a boy instead. I was a ‘tomboy’ for most of the time growing up because I enjoyed things I thought only boys were supposed to enjoy: running around at recess, digging for bugs, and playing soccer. Of course, these are things that all kids enjoy, regardless of gender! It’s no surprise that women take a long time to learn to love themselves in a world where they are constantly advertised that they need to do better, look better, be better.
      Thank you for your thoughtful and insightful comment (as always!) 🙂

  121. Love all the thoughts and effort that went into this. It’s liberating to dispell the myths that are out there and realize that rather than “leaning in” to the current paradigm, we can just throw the whole thing out and do it our way. I hadn’t ever considered Abby’s ideas (in the comments) above about the FIRE movement encouraging male-centric purchases and discouraging (more typically female) purchases like make-up, etc. A lot to think about… Thank you!

    1. Yes yes yes! It’s important to remember that the workplace– everything down from the set hours, office temperatures, and customs were originally set with men in mind. Now women make up half of the working population, so it’s time to rethink the paradigm!

      I was happy that Abby added that bit as it wasn’t something I had really thought about either in the FIRE community. We can do better! Thanks for reading 🙂

  122. It’s interesting that it’s a myth that women apply to jobs less often then men based on their qualifications. I guess I assumed this to be true because I know women who in the past apply to jobs because they didn’t meet all of the requirements. And I had to tell them, “No! You meet some of them. Apply anyways!” And it’s crazy that no matter what, in the past women had to have a man co-sign a loan for them. We’ve come quite a ways from the past, but clearly still have a ways to go looking at these myths. Enjoyed reading this!

    1. To be fair, it might actually be true! It’s just a stat that came from a questionable source, so I would want more evidence to back it up. I have heard that anecdotally many find it true. Either way, it’s good you were there for those women who doubted themselves! We definitely have a ways to go, but we’re getting there.

  123. This is definitely an interesting/difficult topic to tackle! You could probably have a blog dedicated to just this subject.

    As a man, I have no issue if a woman were to be in my exact position doing my exact job and earned exactly what I do. A company that pays people based on their genders is no company I’d like to work for.

    I do believe a few factors need to be thrown into the statistics though. One being that there are more men in dangerous jobs than women. More men die on the job than women. But if the same job is being performed and the two individual genders are performing at the same quality, I see no reason for a man to be paid any more than a woman.

    1. Yes, essentially the issue is that if a woman is to be in your exact same position doing your exact same job, she is likely to be paid less. Also, if she does the same dangerous job and takes on the same amount of risk as a man, she will also be paid less. The gender pay gap looks across industries to take the dangerous job factor into account. The study also mentions that it looked into male advantages that might account for the gap, like “risk aversion and propensity to negotiate or compete” (or, you could say, doing more dangerous work) but countered that women would also have advantages in some other areas that ought to make up the difference. Overall, I think we both agree that equal pay for equal work is the goal.

      1. Yeah I’m definitely for equal pay for equal work, in all fields. My wife faced this issue when she was working in construction on movies. Guys who had less experience and who were half as hard workers would end up getting paid a higher rate than her.

        Hopefully the attention this issue is getting will keep it’s momentum and we’ll seem some good statistics in the future.

  124. This is an thought provoking one. I never thought of financial articles pushing role duties but I can see it now. Even on TV, the advertisement of saving and coupon tends to use women and the investing companies use men.

    A nation can rise no higher than its women.

  125. I am impressed how much research you put into your posts! It gives them validity and makes them more meaningful
    As a woman, society, in subtle ways leads you to believe you are inferior and less important and you start to believe it and then it is hard to unlearn.
    I struggle with this even though I consider myself the fixitlady and am the breadwinner with a husband who stayed at home to raise the kids. I am reading the book ‘The Power’. It is an interesting look at a dystopian future world where women are in charge! You may enjoy it.

    1. Gaining confidence in oneself and unlearning some of the damaging narratives we were told while growing up is a huge element of pushing past sexist and racist (and other -ist) stereotypes. Interesting book, I think we learn a lot about sexist scenarios by flipping the gender and imagining what would happen if it were the other way around. Thanks!

  126. I too am a programmer without a CS degree (no college degree). It sounds like a mechanical engineering degree was still helpful with what you are doing now. My experience is quite a bit different than yours, but I think we both learned what we know now from trial by fire. I think the best skills a programmer (specifically web developer) can have are 1) problem solving 2) grit 3) communication 4) willingness to learn and be wrong.

    It is interesting because I’ve led interviews with people who have had CS college degrees and those without. It seems like there are quite a few programmers who feel their degree is more valuable than it is, and are very arrogant. I’m not saying a CS degree doesn’t have value, but IMO (at least with web development), it really only can make a good candidate stronger. If a programmer is depending on their college degree, I think that is a bad sign, or they should be looking for entry level positions.

    I will say that part of me thinks I would have learned some of the core programming concepts sooner if I got a CS degree, but then I realize that the 4-years of real world experience would still probably be much more valuable. This might be different in other programming fields though.

    1. Those four tenants for programming are on point. You’re right– the best candidates have more than a degree, they have projects they are passionate about or problems they are working through. I also wonder if I missed some serious fundamentals without the CS degree, but unfortunately I don’t think school always reflects real-world application. I’m interested to hear about your adventures into programming with no college degree!

      1. Yeah, I think college might cover high level concepts, but I also question how well they prepare programmers for the real world.

        I made a note for a possible future article to talk about my career path. I don’t look at myself as anyone extraordinary, but it does have me excited to think about my career journey.

  127. This mirrors some of my experience as well! I graduated with an IT degree and a bunch of programming experience outside of college from side projects, but without the serious math and theory side CS majors get.

    One thing I’ve seen a bunch too: filling in for a senior dev when they leave. Those were the times when I grew the most in my roles. At every job I’ve been in, more senior devs lefts and I took up some of the slack.

    Your mention of all the time NOT programming is on point too. So much time in meetings, communicating between the team, setting goals, making sure requirements are met, testing, deploying – it’s a lot!

    I think that’s one reason why some people leave to join smaller companies – they want more time actually programming and creating. Or they do their own thing (which I’m doing now and has been amazing).

    One thing that a lot of people do when learning programming (and I catch myself doing when I learn something) is trying to learn EVERYTHING. I think it’s much more efficient to pick a target project, or something you want to make, and learn what you need to know to make that a reality.

    1. Filling in for a senior dev was definitely a step up for me, as well as working on a 2-person dev team with a guy with >20 years of experience– I just tried to keep up! I wonder how much I learned on my own vs. from other people.

      Yes, meetings are the death of devs. Have you read Managing Humans? He has a nice diatribe about meetings, I felt very heard in that book! I’m excited to see what you accomplish as a rogue developer!

      There definitely has to be a balance with breadth versus depth in one’s career. I think going for breadth is good early on, then you pick a couple things to dive into and go deep mid-career, and at the architect level you go for breadth again. But it depends on each person and where they want to go in their career. Definitely trying to learn EVERYTHING is going to overwhelm you with anything when you first start. Better to try a small project (which will inevitably become a large project) and learn what it takes to get there, I completely agree.

  128. I became a developer by choice but the false assumption that you need a degree for that caused spending 7 years in higher education to bag a three year BSc. I learned a lot but what you can use depends on what kind of programmer do you become. I choose web application development and I have to admit that I use almost none of the knowledge the university gave me. Most of my knowledge comes from my high school programmer teacher, the later concepts are mostly so scientific that you almost never use them in simple web apps. If I’d have a chance to start over I would definitely join to a bootcamp (these wasn’t a thing back then) and go for a shortcut. I guess you need about two years to learn what you need for a web developer job and yes, you learn most by doing it. About these language requirements… if you are thinking the right way, you think logically and you have solid basic programming skills then it is just a matter of time to get used to any language. I have non programmer friends who has this mindset and they would excel in programming if one day the would decide to go that way. Same time I have programmer friend who are not the best in these things, still they are having a career as developers. Sometimes the fake it till you make it principle works 😉

  129. If you are using any service by breaking the companies stated terms of srevice then you are committing fraud. Perhaps minor and fairly harmless, but fraud nonetheless.

  130. I recently found your blog and I *love* this post, so much.
    Especially this: “women would invest more money if they earned more money”!!!!
    All of the exclamation marks are required. Thank you for publishing this post!

    1. Thanks! It absolutely has no real backing in a real-life situation from when I first moved to Portland… absolutely none…

      1. Financial mechanic seems to ignore.yhe fact that courting alone is a major area of expense.
        You.might even want to spend money on your new loved one.or heaven forbid go on holiday and not sleep in bunk beds or in a tent.

        I would.also.suggest that attitudes to money need to be duscussed and negotiated and agreeed. It takes a bit more than just saying it’s my cycle way or the highway.

    1. Health insurance is a good question. My main way to prepare is to save enough to account for very high medical expenses. But there are a few others: geoarbitrage, moving and living abroad, is something we definitely want to do for many years in early retirement. I also have citizenship in the UK should we want to move closer to family one day. Ultimately, though, I will be researching and planning for healthcare costs heavily before leaving my career in the US to be sure there is enough nest egg to cover insurance and other disastrous events that may occur.

  131. I think that every couple will do things differently.
    Anecdotally, couples break up over attitudes to money – or money problems.
    Spending too much money is one problem, hiding debts or problem is another.

    Lady GFF has little interest in money which makes things all my job – a split that works most of the time but i am tighter/stingier/more frugal than her and that causes problems occasionally.

    Great post!

    1. Yes, one of the leading causes of breakups and divorces is money, so spending too much, spending too little, hiding, lying, and other money infidelities are risk factors. Hitting that sweet spot of personal differences in saving vs. spending preference can be difficult but overall a healthy move for a couple. It sounds like you and Lady GFFF are finding the way that works for you, which is ultimately the important thing!

  132. Great post! I’m also a software engineer without a CS degree although by way of bootcamp. I wish I knew that a degree wasn’t necessary sooner, but I try to remind myself that it’s not helpful to dwell on things like that.

    1. True, and bootcamps weren’t as big of a thing until recently either. What did you do before software engineering?

    1. Yes! I think after a long day of work or after having an argument is the best time for encouraging new changes. I’ve definitely nailed the timing in the past 😉

  133. Hey! Really like your balanced take on this! Personally I think I balk at the word privilege because it’s thrown around like an accusation these days. One that implies that mindset, grit and plain old hardwork didn’t play a role in the overall outcome. I like the way you point out that the two can coexist without detracting from the other.

    I think taking the word privilege to that extreme place is an unfair way to lash out at peoole – everyone in life faces challenges – regardless of where they may fall on the income spectrum of the world. Personally I don’t feel any of us are well equipped to judge who’s strife our life experiences are “worse” than others. They are all unique to each individual, and their life experiences/perspective.

    Because privilege has become such a nuanced and hotly debated word – I prefer to use the word fortunate. I consider myself extremely fortunate – in fact I think across the board people in North America have already won the lottery just by being born here, and a second lottery win for simply being born in this era (two things clearly none of us have control over.) Our world might be far from perfect – but it’s pretty amazing when compared to the environments of generations past.

    By recognizing that good fortune each and every day, it helps me practice gratitude for all that I’ve been given and all that I’ve worked hard for.

    Thanks for sharing this post today 🙂

    1. I’ve put the Mad Fientist podcast on in the car during long drives and Mr. Mechanic is not interested at all. He’s my Jill to the Mad Fientist 🙂

  134. Luckily my spouse and I are similar in temperament. That said, I was always the instigator, and it took several years to get my spouse fully onboard. In our case, Scott tracked the numbers for a while and could see the benefit of moves we were making — in our business, paper assets and real estate. The tracking then became more active management and finally he jumped from his W2 job to embrace entrepreneurship full-time. Agree 100% that you have to ease into it.

    1. It sounds like you were already making significant moves with your business, assets and real estate as well! I have a feeling Mr. Mechanic will stick to his W2 for a long time, but the most important thing is that there are options. It’s awesome that you guys are onboard together and doing entrepreneurship full-time, very inspiring!

  135. This book looks amazing. I think it will help Andrea and myself connect on a deeper level in planning our future.

    Given the lifestyle we want, I’m not sure we could retire in 5-years. I think the best case scenario would be 10-15 years. But I still think these principles work the same.

    FYI, I was planning on buying this book anyway. If I do win I’ll give a copy away for free on my blog. Thanks for reviewing this book and sharing your future plans. This is inspiring.

    1. Well timed post. I was just listening to Tanya speak about her book on another podcast and thought it would be super interesting to read it. Thanks!

  136. I’m going through some significant changes right now – a small-ish inheritance that gives me a lot of options. I’m using some of it to buy a larger home and land, and build a life with my partner. As we’re going through this transition, it sounds like this book would be a fantastic resource in planning our future!

    1. Great review! I’ve listened to Tanja on hers and others podcasts and always enjoyed her perspective. I’d love to check out her book.

  137. A great review! Looking forward to reading this book.

    It’s reassuring to hear (again) that you don’t need to be a magical unicorn to do this. I’m well on my way, despite having never earned more than US$47,000 in my day jobs in arts/events industry. In fact, I’m already enacting a ‘work optional’ mindset, taking this year off as a mini-retirement of travel and reflection on what I want my future life to look like.

    Keep up the good posts, FInancial Mechanic!

  138. You’ve convinced me to grab my copy now. I’ve heard only great things about this book and from the podcast that Tanja has been on. I loved your review and your own plans of reaching FI.

    I look forward to going through the same excercise myself.

    Thank you ?

  139. I’ve been looking forward to this book since I started hearing about it a couple weeks back! Was going to try to see if my library would pick up a copy.

  140. I love this, thank you for your summary! I’ve been working hard on some similar thinking and planning lately, and pairing it with practical advice sounds brilliant.

  141. If I don’t win this, I’m going to buy it, because it looks awesome! Are there a lot of graphs/diagrams that make a dead-tree copy worthwhile, or is e-book fine?

    1. I think an ebook would be fine. There are a few graphs but they ought to show up on a Kindle, and if not the text gives enough context that I think you wouldn’t miss the graphs too much.

  142. Sounds like a great read!
    As someone who’s just starting to get my feet wet in FIRE, this sounds like a great overview.

  143. My spouse has been talking about wanting to retire early (mid 50s) for years but I didn’t take it too seriously because the giant number that our financial adviser calculated for us seemed so daunting to reach before we were 65. Flash to this year when I I stumbled down the rabbit hole while reading up on electric cars and solar power and I took a hard look at our finances myself, what is the maximum we could save/invest each year and how long would it take us to get to a million dollars saved.

    I know it’s not all about the numbers and we’ve talked about what we want to do in our next life and also it seems like we’re both clear on what that looks like, we nearly got into a fight this month over possible travel destinations.
    Me: isn’t there anywhere you’d want to travel too when we have the time to travel?
    Him: but I won’t be disappointed if I don’t go.
    Me: but you just talked about wanting to go to X and Y and Z when we were at dinner with friends.
    Him: yeah, but if I don’t go to X, Y or Z I’ll still be happy with our life here.
    Me: I know, BUT THAT’S NOT THE POINT I’M ASKING!

    So clearly we still have some work to do.

  144. I am glad you mentioned healthcare in your summary. It is so easy to ignore that cost since our employers pay a large part of it and it gets deducted directly from our paychecks. In 2018 healthcare costs (medical, dental, prescriptions) were our third largest expense after housing and travel. I am struggling o figure out the correct number to budget in early retirement, but I know it is going to be a lot higher than now!

    Dragon Guy

    1. My healthcare costs were up there as well, and I didn’t even have any catastrophic issues! 1 case of pink eye and 2 root canals was over $1k, so healthcare is definitely not something to ignore. In the book, Tanja addresses how they compared plans to take into account Mark’s $1,000/month medications, by taking a higher monthly premium, they got the cost down to $15/month for the meds. I’m sure you and Dragon Gal will do all the maths to make it work 🙂

  145. First time commenter on your blog. We’ve heard about the book but your review is definitely convincing us that we should consider reading it. So if we aren’t the lucky winner we will get a copy for ourselves.

    We pulled the trigger last year and decided to sell everything to travel the world full time via slow travel. Our blog became our platform to share our story and I would love to review our life purpose by using the “process of creating a diagram of your purpose” that you highlight in your review. And since healthcare is a big deal for ppl being US resident, wen can definitely take advantage of the resource she share on this topic! So can’t wait to read the book!

  146. Heard about this book on several podcasts recently – would love to give it a read 🙂 Thank you for the in-detail review, sounds like another one I need to add to my growing collection of FIRE books!

  147. I too decided to go with Vanguard. Their interface is still dated, but it seems to work okay. One good thing that has happened (I think in the last year) is they lowered the minimum to invest in their “Admiral Share” mutual funds, including VTSAX, to $3,000 (It was $10k). I like the idea of being able to set my investments on auto pilot every month and not have to worry about purchasing in whole shares with ETF’s. But it won’t auto balance your portfolio…so I will have to do that manually once in a while.

    We won’t go heavy into the stock market for at least another 2-3 months, but that is our current plan.

    I’m tempted to consider going with the Vanguard Personal Advisor service, once our portfolio reaches $50k. They only charge a 0.30% fee, which is a bargain in the financial advisor space.

    Have you changed your approach since publishing this article?

    1. Yeah it is great that they lowered their minimum. Nothing has changed for me since I wrote this article, it has been pretty easy to set-and-forget, rebalancing has been pretty easy too. If I need to change something I’ll just tinker with my 401k allocations to get the balance right, and Personal Capital shows the percentages across the board to keep it easy. You could also invest in a retirement fund if you like something that rebalances.

  148. This review left me not wanting, but needing to give this book a read! I’m hoping to get some good actionable advice and encourage my friends and family to read it too. Everyone could use this info in their lives!

  149. Thank you for the book review. I’ve been on the fence on whether to read this or not and now I know. This is also the first post I’ve read on your site and I like your writing style. Now it’s time for me to binge the rest. Thanks again!

  150. Blogger meetups are the best!!! I’ve hung out with Felicity in Orlando and NYC, and J at FinCon too. You got some of the best for your first time!! (Not a slight to anyone else, we’ve got a lot of people that are truly the best!♥️)

  151. Nice! I’ve never really thought about meeting up with other Finance Bloggers – it always feels like I am so far away from everyone else waaayyyyy up North here lol! Sounds like a cool experience!

    1. There are other Canadian FIRE people! There are also TONS of meet ups all over– Camp FI, mustachian meetups, ChooseFI meetups, FinCon, Chautautuas– they come well-recommended from everyone who has gone and met like-minded folks.

  152. I thought that the “troll under the bridge” was likely a STROLL under the bridge and therefore was a typo. That didn’t seem like you, so I googled it and sure enough it is a thing!
    Oh and $58 for 7 meals out is AMAZING!

  153. Welp, apparently everyone has my email and password.

    My work has a service called Passpack that I use for some things. This reminded me that I need to upgrade to the latest version so I can auto fill the password on forms (like lastpass). I need to do a better job at doing this. You would think being on the computer all day I would have prioritized this. But nope. Great post!

    1. Yes it took me this long to get around to using a password manager at all, and I’m a software developer! Sometimes being around the stuff all day makes it even harder to change. Hope it was useful!

    1. Nice! I just looked into Protonmail and it looks like a good service. I thought about adding some more tech to use like encrypted mail, texts, and browsing services. Maybe I should add in another section!

  154. Wow, that is a lot of information.
    I just realized that when I click on ‘unsubscribe’ on those unwanted emails, its like clicking on a link, which is of course a big ‘no no as you pointed out. I loved the Ron Swanson skit. Very entertaining reading!

    1. True! Most e-mails have to provide an unsubscribe option now, but it is always good to be wary if you didn’t sign up for something. It might be best to just send those e-mails to spam.

      Ron Swanson is my favorite!

  155. I kinda miss neopets lol. Surprised I haven’t seen anybody walking around with neopets shirts since everything else from my childhood is being slapped on shirts and sold to the masses!

    Sounds like you’ve got your information locked down for sure! Staying anonymous helps with sharing your net worth I’m sure.

    I’ve been too lazy to start using a VPN but at least use LastPass. I fear the majority of people use the same password for all of their accounts *cough* *cough* my wife *cough* 😮

    1. I think you just stumbled on a great side-hustle idea!

      True, staying anonymous helps a bit, although I’m not sure I’ll stay anonymous forever, so it’s good to have a plan in place. The VPN was super easy to set up! I recommend using it, at least for while you’re out and about at coffee shops and airports.

      Not the same password! Eek! I found that once I had LastPass installed and always asking if it could save my password– that was a big motivator. Then once it gets all the passwords as they are it gives you a security score and warns you if you have duplicate passwords across accounts. Maybe that would help!

  156. Thanks for the article! We’re married and very similar with our spending habits (spend as little as possible!). That said, we kept our finances separate just due to practical reasons – separate loans. But I buy some things for her or us, my wife Ellie buys something or me or us. I’ll transfer money to her when she needs something, and visa versa. It works because we’re on the same page and trust each other fully. When we’re retired we’ll finally pool accounts together!

    Cheers,
    Alex

    1. It makes sense! Keeping loans separate is a good idea. It sounds like you have a system that works for you, which is the best thing!

  157. Another piece of advice: don’t just stop at unique passwords. Use a unique username for each account. If a hacker doesn’t even know your username they can’t even begin to attack your account.
    If you’re already using a password manager, this step adds no additional difficulty as you just record it in your database.

    Now unfortunately, some services only let you use your email address as your username. I also recommend using a unique email address for each account. The quick and easy way if you use Gmail is to do +@gmail.com, e.g. finmechanic+chase8363@gmail.com.
    Why the four random digits? Well without that, then your email address for each service is easily predictable, which defeats the entire point.
    Unfortunately, not every service allows “+” in your email address. If that’s the case, you have a couple more options
    1) You can generate an infinite number of email address using blur.com. https://dnt.abine.com/ However, I wouldn’t trust a service like this for anything critical, not because I don’t trust their security or privacy policies, but because if they ever go out of business, you can lose access to your accounts
    2) You can buy your own domain, and set up a catch all with your email provider. This will, in general, cost money.

    Ah you have discovered inteltechniques.com. Have you listened to his podcast? I went pretty deep down that rabbit hole.

    If you want a better free VPN option, there’s ProtonVPN. The free tier, which is subsidized by their paid tiers, is rated as slower, mostly because there’s only a couple free servers and there’s a lot of users. While it may be slow (I haven’t tried the free tier in a long time), there’s no bandwidth limit whatsoever.

    1. Thanks for the email trick! I also learned of mySudo, which lets you set up different online identities. A bit of a different use case but still an interesting tool.
      I haven’t listened to his podcast, but I can add it to my ever-growing list of something to listen to!
      I’ll check out ProtonVPN, sounds good to me.

      1. Yeah mySudo is really nice. I bought a used iPhone off eBay (I have an Android) just so I could use mySudo. I am grandfathered into the nine number plan for free, but I think I’m only grandfathered in for a year.

        Oh yeah – one note about using VPNs to access financial services. Some financial institutions will either block access entirely (rarely) or block transactions (more common) when using a VPN. Square Cash, the free money sending service, will block transactions entirely when using certain VPNs. Ally Bank recently blocked online access to my account because I accessed it through a VPN.
        They do this because VPNs are commonly used for account takeovers.

    1. I realized through researching for this article that sometimes the studies are buried really deep, and lots of publications will just quote each other!

  158. Thank you for putting this together! I just spent like 3 hours setting up lastpass and earlier this week removed all my info from aggregator sites.

    1. I’m so glad it was helpful Molly! I also realized it took more time than I expected to set all this up and write about it but definitely worth it.

  159. I’m so excited for you that you got to meet those awesome bloggers! How inspiring and awesome for you! I haven’t heard of Fetching Financial Freedom before, so I’m off to check out that site now. It’s been over ten years since I’ve been to Seattle. So jealous!

    1. Seattle is so fun! I definitely enjoyed exploring the city and meeting these interesting bloggers. I like FFF, she’s also a developer. Are you planning on going to any meetups or conferences to meet other bloggers like FinCon?

    1. It’s quite old! We’ve made so many variations that it’s easy to forget how old it is. Thank you!

    1. Thank you! There are so many cultural norms that it’s hard to know which to just follow along with and which to reject, because rejecting them can be painful. However, money is one area where you should absolutely dictate what happens!

  160. LOVE IT! Fantastic analogies. You had me getting flashbacks to my improv and theater days. Let’s flip that script (and I might flip a table while I’m at it…just for fun 😉 ). Thanks so much for writing this – I really enjoyed it.

  161. Yes!!! Nothing beats being the star of your own show! I suppose it’s that intersection of achievement, reaching your goals, finding your passion… finding yourself!
    Your post was entertaining and well written. It reminded me of the Robert Frost poem about finding one’s own path, the one less traveled. Taking the easier road gets you there faster and more safely, but there is a certain fulfillment about going the harder route. Thank you for reminding me.

    1. Yes, all of those play an important role. I’m glad it made you think of the poem, I can definitely see the relation. Sometimes the more difficult route gets us to where we actually need to go!

    1. I loved reading your moving post this morning because I got some ideas for our cross-continental move. You’ve certainly shown flexibility with your move to DC!

  162. Good luck with the move! I love working remotely and don’t plan on ever having a commute again if I can help it. That workstation setup looks a lot like mine except mines not as high-end. I got a desk for $50 off Facebook marketplace and a brand new $200 sit-stand desk for $20 at a yard sale. I must confess I don’t use the standing feature half as much as I should though lol. I’ve never even been to New York or California.. Need to start traveling more in my own country!