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Hello, boys and girls, this is Tim Ferriss, and welcome to another episode of the Tim Ferris show, where it is my job to dig around, find world class performers of all sorts of stripes and breeds and species and deconstruct what they do.


How do they make decisions? What do they do first thing in the morning? What are the habits, routines, details that you can apply to your life?


And this particular episode was very much an in demand requested episode. And the guest is Mr. Money Mustache at Mr. Money Mustache, Pete Edney in real life.


He grew up in Canada in a family of mostly eccentric musicians, then graduated from computer engineering in the 1990s and worked in various tech companies before retiring at age 30.


Pete, his wife and their now 11 year old son live near Boulder, Colorado, and they've not had real jobs since 2005.


This begs the question, of course, how how did they do that?


They accomplished this early retirement by doing a number of things, but in effect, optimizing all aspects of their lifestyle for maximal fun at minimal expense, and by using basic index fund, investing their annual expenses on average total a mere 25000 to twenty seven thousand dollars. And they do not feel in want of anything. So again, since 2005, all three of them have explored a free form.


Life of interesting projects, side businesses and adventures. In 2011, started writing the Mr. Money Mustache blog about his philosophy, which has grown to reach about 23 million different people and 300 million page views since its inception. Since its founding, it has become a worldwide cult phenomenon with a self organizing community and incredible news coverage. This episode explores his story, philosophies and routines. So please enjoy my conversation with the one and only Mr. Money Mustache, Pete Edney.


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At this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking. Can I ask you a question? Now, at the same time. What it's like to be a cybernetic organism, living tissue, metal, and there's no barrier, so. Pete, welcome to the show. Thanks, Jim.


It's an honor to be on here, and you are, I would say, in the top five most requested guests for this podcast that that that I see on the Internet and beyond.


I had somebody come up to me recently in New York City, of all places, said, you know, you should have on the podcast and it was you. And so I'm really excited to dig into all sorts of stories and conversations and discussions because I'm thinking through many areas of my life in which I think you are an expert or certainly spent more time ruminating on these things.


But I thought we could start with your experience getting groceries. Yeah. Could you describe for people what your experience looks like, getting groceries? Well, it's kind of varied, but I feel strongly about groceries. So in an ideal, like utopian grocery day, I would throw my bike trailer onto the back of my single speed bike and roll down to like the local kind of hippie natural grocery store and then just load up with like one hundred and fifty bucks of awesome stuff and then pedal it back up the hill and then unload it and then have people show up and the giant barbecue that night and feast.


So if that's the utopia, what does the what does the compromised utopia look like? Well, it's usually pretty close to that, but sometimes people don't come over or sometimes there's some reason I have to use the car and maybe I'm taken taking it past the grocery store. So I rush in and get some stuff. But I think the you know, the thrust of the question is like, does this guy really get groceries by bicycle? And it's definitely true.


I kind of do everything by bike here in Longmont, Colorado, like at least 99 percent of my trips away from the house here are human powered. And that's just the way I've figured out what makes me happiest to live.


And at this point in time, you have a household of three, is that right? Yeah, that's true.


One boy, one boy, one girl and got it. All right. And and what what is the cause? I think this is this is this is going to be a core piece of the discussion. What are your average annual family expenses at this point, would you say?


All right.


Well, we've been adding this up ever since I started writing a blog. We never really added it up before. But it always comes out around twenty five to twenty seven thousand dollars of annual expenditures, with the notable exception that we don't have any kind of mortgage or debt or anything. So that's all on purely stuff that we want to buy.


Mm hmm. And maybe we'll will this is going to be momentos style in terms of chronology is a lot of my conversations are is just a quirk of my brain that I'm trying to bug.


I'm trying to turn into a feature of this podcast.


What was. The blog post or the day that you realized Mr. Money Mustache had a cult like following, was there a nice use that I use that in a complimentary way?


By the way, if you have some of the most die hard fans I've ever encountered, was there a particular piece or moment when you realized how strongly you have devoted your fan base was?


I think it's kind of been like one of those frog in hot water situations where it just gradually happens. And then occasionally, especially when my friends stop in on out like a money mustachio event, they're like, dude, you're a cult leader. Did you realize that? But it didn't really happen any specific time. I would say the first time I was really surprised by the effects of blogging was when I had a guest post on this awesome previous blog called Early Retirement Extreme.


And a whole bunch of this, Jacob bloggers fans came over to mine my blog and just flooded it and just crawled and read every single article and started putting in all these comments. And and then I it was really a rewarding thing and it just kept going from there. It's sort of a self motivating thing. And then the other incident was probably if we had a party once blog related meetup in in Ottawa, Canada, which is kind of one of my homeland hometowns.


And all these people came in like two hundred people and it overflowed into the backyard of this like unwitting host's place. And it was a little weird because I didn't even get to meet anybody. And that was the first time I became uncomfortable with like, oh, well, I didn't want to be one of those people where you don't even meet everybody who wants to meet you.


So Ottawa, I I've actually spent a decent amount of time in Ottawa and have and I had a Beavertail for the first time while ice skating or planning on ice skating in Ottawa due to a startup there.


Well, it's a quite a large company now called Shapefile.


Oh, I knew that. Yeah. And the beavertail, that's the right way to do otherwise. Skating and you were taels and now Beavertail is.


I don't even remember exactly what it is, but it's a pastry right. I mean it's what is it exactly. It's like a chocolate covered pastry.


And for those people who have not been to Ottawa, you can, you can skate for hours. I mean it's this this gigantic I guess they lower the water level or maybe they raised the water level so that you can skate effectively around the entire city.


If I from remembering correctly. Yeah, that's right.


And it's pretty awesome. The the but to get back to the blog, what what do you think has what are the aspects of your philosophy or your writing or your persona that have struck such a chord.


Well, it's funny you should ask that, because the first time I ever did a talk, like a big public talk, it was to a conference of bloggers. It's called Vinken. And I just stopped by because it was in Denver. And I had realized that this blog was kind of behaving like a cult. And I looked up like, what are the properties of a cult? And then I read some articles and maybe a book or two on cults and I realized, man, I've accidentally done it.


And and just because that's my idea of a sense of humor is so it turns out if you want to start a cult, you need to just have a few key elements, like a recognizable leader, need to have a sense of us versus Zen them, you know, like, oh, we're an oppressed people and the rest of the world doesn't understand us. And a couple other things. It helps to feel like you're virtuous and have some kind of like good changing the world and the rest of the world needs your help.


And yeah. So if you look at all the cults, including informal ones like Star Trek or Apple, there's always the same kind of characteristics. And I accidentally emulated those and in retrospect realized, hey, well, I guess that was a pretty good idea for those who are part of the US.


In your case, what is what's the belief system? What are the the tenets?


Right. So the belief system, which I jokingly call mustache pianism, it's kind of like a lifestyle and a fake religion. And the beliefs are that the, you know, sort of the United States especially is the ground zero of this consumer insanity that has overtaken all of our minds. And it's just causing people to behave in an irrational way and sort of sabotage their own ability to have a good life. For example, they work way more years than they have to because they're consuming a lot more crap than they have to without actually getting any life benefit about it over in.


The same thing applies to the health, their health and their their sanity and their mental health, or everyone's very inefficiently going about their lives. So the correction through in ASM is just being a bit more thoughtful about this stuff and seeking efficiency in the way that you spend your money and make sure you get fun out of it. Each time that you spend something and applying this, you just end up a lot healthier and wealthier and able to retire from mandatory work at a much earlier age in your life, which a lot of people are drawn in by the prospect of an extra four decades of freedom that they wouldn't have otherwise gotten.


Correct me if I'm wrong, maybe you retired effectively at age 30, is that right? Right.


Yeah, this is perfect. Reverse chronology, just like you planned it. So, yeah, now we're back to the year two thousand five. And after working about a ten year career in software engineering, my girlfriend, who is now my wife and I determined we had enough money saved up to live off the investment returns forever. So we just quit our regular cubicle jobs and just in time to have our baby boy at the time. And that was, of course, about 11 years ago.


And we didn't even know this was a weird thing to do. We thought, oh yeah, of course, you know, when you get paid as much as we do, like, it only takes so long until you don't need to work anymore. And it was only after several years of retirement that we noticed that we were kind of oddballs and everybody else who earn the same amount of money was still broke, broken in probably more way than one.


And and I want to dig into some of the numbers related to this.


So as a discussion point, one of the one of the things you had said over and I always ask guests for potential prompts for for four topics, it could be fun to explore. And one of them was you only need to accumulate twenty five times your annual spending to retire forever.


Could you elaborate on that and how how you arrived at that number? Because I think this is this is a useful exercise for people to hear.


Yeah, this is a core piece of math that is very widely known if you have financial independence enthusiast, but it's almost completely secret to most of the of the rich world's population. So if you have a if you have a handle on your annual spending and you know how much you need to live on, all you need to do is save up twenty five times that amount. And on the very, very conservative side, let's say twenty eight times that amount in conservative investments like a giant Vanguard index fund, and that's enough to fund you with passive income.


With a high degree of safety for the rest of your life, so if you have to just keep the numbers simple, if you need thirty thousand dollars to live on, multiply that by twenty five an hour. Don't give myself a tricky math question. I think that's like seven hundred fifty thousand dollars you'd need saved up or something like that to quit forever. And that's a lot less than most people think. Most people, at least in my age group, they're shooting for the tens of millions type of range.


If they if they were to ever quit work early. And they haven't really done the math on how easy it really is.


Mm hmm. And are there any assumptions embedded in that in terms of percentage, annual yield and so on?


What are what are the weather historically based or otherwise? What are what are the are there any other assumptions embedded in that? It is, yeah.


There's it's kind of based on a really long term study of the stock market dating back to the 1920s or something like that or maybe even earlier. And the idea is it goes up some years, it goes down some years consistently pays dividends. And in the worst case scenario, you want to still not run out of money. So that's where the four percent comes from. You have gotten you through a lot of the worst case scenarios. There are some situations when you could have spent up to five or seven percent of your portfolio every year and still not run out if you had happen to retire just before a big stock market boom that went on for a long time.


But most people don't like taking a huge amount of risk. So the four percent or three point five, if you want to be extra conservative with today's stock market valuations, that's more of a safety net. And it's really just a mental crutch, because what I find is that when people retire early, almost everybody like over ninety five percent of people still have a lot of interests and passions and then they're pretty good at making money if they manage to save up that much in the first place.


So they still make money in their retirement. They just have a lot more fun doing it. And that nest egg that's pumping out dividends and returns just adds extra confidence so they can they can have more fun in the process.


Well, I've read two different definitions of retirement or maybe they're characteristics that are I think one was attributed to one was written by you, both of which I thought were very helpful as a orientation for thinking about the subject.


And the first is know retirement or financial independence simply means that you have your living expenses covered by non-work income.


Part one. Part two is definition of a modern retirement. The activities you pursue once you are done searching for money.


And I think that's a very useful framework. If in particular, you're considering in early retirement at, say, the age of 30, 40, 50, whatever it might be, the.


How do you, let's say, media not to cast aspersions on everyone who is part of the media, since I suppose that's what I am right now at this moment.


But you've been covered a fair amount. And I know like everyone who's been covered a fair amount, you get misquoted or people get the message wrong or they just take snarky, cheap shots occasionally. Doesn't happen all the time. You've actually had some of the most complimentary profiles I've ever read, but where do they get it wrong?


Where do people get you your message, your principles, philosophies, wrong?


Well, the misconceptions are sort of two different things from the media side. They often. Assume well, I mean, the ones that aren't complimentary, they assume there's this crazy guy and he's just a lifestyle guru, just like another junior, Tim Ferriss, trying to get everybody excited about his crazy ideas. And he's not really retired or or they say, yeah, he he made so much money. But that doesn't apply to the regular person when they're when they're trying to make it on like fifty thousand dollars.


Your salary or what about people with more kids so the media don't understand.


They they often assume some kind of extreme frugality that would be undesirable to live under. And that's that's really inaccurate. And I work pretty hard to fight it because. I don't have my spending set up for the minimal level, I have it set up for the maximum amount that I can possibly spend and get value out of it because it's easy to make money. So I set my spending at the maximum happiness level and then stop spending when I start getting more happiness.


So that's the that's really the fundamental mistake. And then as for the the non media world, there are a little bit more suspicious. Like they just think I'm making everything up and I don't even you know, I never did any of this stuff that I say I did in the first place. So then it's more of a conspiracy theory. If you're reading like the comment section of MSN, which you should never do.


You but you do have and I think this is why this is the I want to bring it up very early a by most standards in the United States, a low household. Annual expense, right? Right. And it might be helpful here to talk about, because I I asked during our soundcheck what you had for breakfast. So could you repeat your answer, please? Oh, yeah. Well, my my breakfast was a fancy black espresso with foamed milk and coconut coconut oil foamed into there, too.


And then some dark chocolate, like 90 percent dark chocolate and some nuts, almonds and cashews and stuff. And it's not exactly related to low expenditure, but it's indirectly related.


I'm going to I'm going to come back to it. What type? But since I love the particulars, what type of coffee, what type of chocolate do you recall? Oh, yeah.


Well, right now my coffee is some kind of organic fair trade thing, but but in large quantities from Costco, which is obviously a lot cheaper than getting like a Starbucks equivalent every morning. And I have the nuts are from Costco as well now that you mention it.


So this is the the reason I bring it up is that I think stumbling upon happiness or Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert is is a good exploration of this. Oftentimes what we think will make us happy does not make us happy.


And we can talk at least dig into what happiness is for you, because I think it's it's it can be a dangerously nebulous term.


But the point being that to to have a functional car and then to have what society tells you is the optimal car, say, some type of sports car, there's a massive delta in price and you pay some severe penalties for that.


But to have a way to go from a good chocolate to an excellent chocolate to world class chocolate, it might only be the difference of ten or twelve dollars. And so there are there are places where you can optimize without being obnoxiously or frugal or frugal in a disabling extent and derive maximal pleasure. That's the point I was trying to make, is that.


Yeah, and what I would love to hear from you is for those people out there who are spending far more multiples, more than you are per year, who don't know where to start. Are there any easy optimizations that could have a dramatic impact on their ability to get closer to optimizing for happiness as opposed to. Succumbing to internal or external pressures to remain on this treadmill of of overconsumption. Yeah, right.


And this might actually be a better answer for your earlier question, too, because as an engineer, like, I was kind of born part engineer at least. And for me, optimization is really, really fun. It's like beautiful. And when something is not optimized and when something inefficient, I actually find it offensive and ugly. So I had a lot of joy. I get a lot of joy from looking at each of my life spending decisions and being comparing it like, OK, if I get this car, I probably make me about this happy and this car would make me this happy.


Whereas if I ride my bike, it does this other thing and you apply that to food and housing and transportation and clothing, travel, exercise. And then all these categories can become super efficient where you end up getting incredible happiness out of them. And the cost can sometimes be not only low, but sometimes you'll get paid for doing stuff that other people spend tens of thousands of dollars to do. So if you're a beginner at this sort of optimization, you can just start with the stuff that costs you a lot of money.


So my favorite one to be a bit repetitive is the car, because the average middle income American spends like twelve thousand dollars per household, which is just on driving around in these like gas powered racing wheelchairs. And that's more than they even invest in in their future. Like that's more than they're spending on their freedom. So step one, don't have a car that's worth more than about ten thousand bucks at the most unless you're at least like a single millionaire, preferably multimillionaire, because you can get a great, perfectly great car that will be trouble free for 10 plus years, for under five thousand dollars.


So the reasonable ceiling would be ten. And that's already going to be a pretty giant thing for people. And then number two is don't use that car a lot. So everybody assumes that, you know, a short drive to work is anything under an hour.


Whereas I think I encourage people to take a really, really hard line approach on that because it's a giant factor in life, happiness and fitness. And money in my rule is you should never get a job, you know, unless you're at gunpoint. That requires you to drive to it, like either find a new job, find a place to live near that job. I mean, even if it requires moving to a new city or a new country in the long run, you just got to keep that nagging thing in your mind, like, OK, I drive to work now, but this is not optimal.


In the long run, I will optimize away car dependence. And yeah, just start with that one and then you can move on and read stuff on my blog and figure out how to cut your grocery costs down and your housing and everything like that too. But I really like the mobility because there's fitness involved too, you know, and there's there's happiness of forcing yourself out into the fresh air every morning as soon as you give up the cage of the car.


It's such a huge thing and it's such an overlooked thing in our country. I couldn't agree more. And I think the. The IT forces you to make other decisions, like you pointed out, I haven't had a car for.


Close to three years, I want to say, no, that does not mean I don't spend time in cars, I do. So I tend to use whether it's a Getaround for trips to Tahoe or things that are further away that require some travel or Uber. But I probably walk.


Walk, I tend to walk more than I bike for whatever reason, but that's that's typically I'd say 70, 80 percent of my locomotion sounds great walking and it's it's helped me to make other decisions to optimize for, say, having people come to me as opposed to having to constantly bounce around a city or travel around the environs and think about how I can better use the capital I have for, uh, types of leverage that don't require or replace the need for bouncing around continuously and wasting that time in transit and also abound for me, at least very slow or very fast in terms of transportation work.


Well, it's in the middle that I get very frustrated because if it's very slow, I can also say Bache phone calls, I can listen to podcasts, listen to audiobooks.


I can take time for that type of enrichment in the process of moving from point A to point B, so true.


Walking is so powerful and so underrated. Like your brain just goes into overdrive. All of your problems sort of start to solve themselves in the background. And for people who don't do it regularly, like an hour a day or walking to genuinely go somewhere, they just discount it because they haven't even experienced this incredible power.


So I'm glad we're both on that train all around that shoe.


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What are some of the books that if this could be two different lists, but some of the books that have had the biggest impact on you or books that you most frequently recommend to your readership? Yeah, I don't have the the ultimate I'm not the ultimate book connoisseur.


I don't spend as much I don't burn through as many books as some people. So but in recent months, three books that have had a pretty big impact on me that I'm about to recommend to people, it really depends on who you're talking to. So if you're into changing the world for the better one book that's spectacularly opened up my mind is this one called Happy City by an author called Charles Montgomery. And it kind of just pulls back the curtain on how we're wasting most of our resources and our human and money resources on building up the country into a spectacularly inefficient asphalt jungle.


So that's for urban planning nerds and fixing the world nerds. But for people who feel like they personally want to, they're wondering why they're such a weirdo. I'm a big fan of the book on Elon Musk by the author Ashlee Vance. I think it's called Elon Musk and Musk in their quest for a fantastic future. That book I read, and it talks about Elon as a little kid and growing up. And it's like that's exactly how I was as a kid and I thought I was the only one.


And he has this feeling where the world is incredibly illogical and no one's listening and he just wants to just fucking change it. Like, I'm just going to do everything myself then. And I can really everything except for the fact that he actually does it. And I don't I can relate completely to the feeling of that book. And finally, a really, really old fashioned book if someone just wants to. Wake themselves up and start turning into more of like a positive, less depressed person.


Is this 1950s classic called The Magic of Thinking Big? I've recommended that to like so many friends because I stumbled across it when I was like 15 years old. And it was really, really old even then. And it's like this this 1950s cheesy, stereotypical, like man's world has some flaws in that way. But that just makes it more funny. And it's a great way to just remind yourself, like, oh, when you think big and act confident and sparkly, then it's amazing how much stuff actually goes better for you.


So those are my three, so I can't comment on the first two, but I, I have to comment on the magic of thinking big. So I have a copy of my original copy of The Magic of Thinking Big about 15 feet to the side of me right now in my living room. It is one of the books that has traveled with me and it's face out. So I see it every day when I'm sitting on my couch, along with a handful of others.


Tribe from Sebastian Junger, Dune, Frank Herbert. That's a bit of a long story. Gratitude, Oliver Sacks. I'm looking at them right now, bird by bird by and large. But Zorba the Greek and Less is more, which is an anthology of writing on minimalism and the magical thinking big by David Schwartz.


This book, despite the title which like you said, I mean, it's it's it screams cheesy at you.


And it that's why it's good, though. It is cheesy, like gorgeously, delightfully cheesy in your like. Yes. A powerful 1950s man as well as business know.


Exactly. And it was it was introduced to me by a man named Steven Ke. Steven Qi fascinating guy lives in I think it's Turlock, California, middle of nowhere and has built this, this fantastic career for himself, developing products, a lot of toys and licensing them to gigantic companies, whether it's Disney or Nestlé, Coca-Cola, you name it. And he he makes these incredibly simple prototypes out of construction paper oftentimes.


And then we'll license these ideas for, I'm assuming, hundreds of thousands, millions of dollars over time. And he was given the magic of thinking big at one point by, uh, I believe it was a Fortune 500 CEO.


So the lineage at least, or the path that the book took to me was was fascinating in and of itself. And I read it, I would say around two thousand three, two thousand four, which was just before I took my my walkabout and all did all the experiment station with my business at the time to either redesign the business or shut it down. And that was the journey that then precipitated the writing of the four hour workweek.


So the magic of thinking big I, I've been meaning to reread it. And part of me, I don't know, tell me I'd be curious to get your opinion.


So I read it so long ago and I have such a high opinion of it that I'm worried I will read it now and it will not age well when I read it a second time. Have you read it recently?


Last time was probably about five years ago and I found I was just as good. I just love that the, you know, the overly simple examples like imagine that those two little gentlemen in your head there is Mr. Success and Mr. Defeat. Mr. Defeat always wants to throw some oil and sand into your crankcase of your mind and stuff like these.


You know, I find that most maybe this is my engineer's brain handicap again, but I really get annoyed by overly flowery language, like kind of Harper's Magazine Atlantic stuff for people just go on for like eight pages to cover something that could fit in a couple of sentences. Right. And Dr. Schwartz doesn't do any of that shit. And in fact, his writing style really inspired me. And like when I write as Mr. Money Mustache, I'm thinking I'm like channeling David Schwartz and he always starts off every story with this little anecdote like that makes him sound like casual and powerful.


He's like, I was relaxing in my lounge one day when a few of my employees came in for questions. And, you know, it's just, you know, you got to read it again. I'm going to be all right. All right.


It's been on my it's been on my to do list for January because I've set aside we're doing this interview in January 2017 and I've set aside the first two weeks minimum to simply consider options because I've in the past fallen prey to over calendaring myself and for fun things in many cases, but nonetheless over calendaring. So I don't have as much slack in the system, the empty space as I would like. And I've been meaning to, as part of my self-imposed curriculum, reread the metric thinking big.


So I will I will jump into that. How are you? You different from Mr. Money Mustache, if if at all. Well, the lines are pretty fine, pretty, you know, I don't know if there's like a really formal difference, but he's probably a bit more perfect than me. Like, I will complain occasionally. And if I don't catch myself and I won't I don't actually complain on the blog about, you know, where I am, where this the world is being mean to me.


But in general, because I read magical thinking big so long ago and internalized it so much and I kind of ran my work career and my my international adventures of moving to the US and everything under those assumptions I feel like. You know, I'm pretty I'm fairly Mr. Money mustache, I'm more sensitive a thing like I don't lecture people in real life about, you know, like I don't actually smash my fist through the driver window of pickup trucks and honk the horns with their foreheads and tell them they shouldn't be going through the drive thru with a stupid off road diesel thing.


But but I think it but and I ride it. So, yeah, the Mr. Money mustache is a little more violent and in his writing and and confrontational. And I enjoy that because it helps me remain more calm in my real life because nobody wants to be lectured in real life about even if you have some ideas you want to share with them, you have to wait for them to come to you. And when you're running a blog, they have come to you by definition, which means there are a lot more open to having their faces punched in a literal literary sense.


Right. To get to get prose mugged while you're while you're shaping their behavior.


The question of the U.S. said the spent a little bit of time in China. And even as a as an American who's somewhat desensitized to consumption, I think that China is it appears to be ten times more materialistic and Internet driven towards overconsumption. But the that's not really leading. I don't want to lead us necessarily into a conversation about China.


The question I was going to ask and have a very simple answer, why did you decide to stay in the US?


I just love it. Here it goes. It's kind of like the furnace of the world. Like many of the problems in the US that stem from under regulation are also its strengths in the sense that you can just start stuff up and then nobody even notices that you're doing it and you can have a giant company before anyone has even noticed. And it's just the entrepreneurial and the optimism and the lack of rules is kind of it goes along with my personal personality because I hate rules.


I'm really in favor of people self-regulating in the sense that don't be a jerk to your neighbor and don't pollute the world and everything like that, which is the part that annoys me about some of the US business culture. But in general, I just love it here. And I love the giant range of geographies too, compared to Canada, which is kind of just a string of cities along the border in the US, you have a grid of cities and islands that range from like.


Arctic tundra to tropical islands and coconut, coconut shell tops and everything like that, it's just a lot more variety and excitement here.


Yeah, there there is a lot of variety here, and I've actually decided that this year will be my year of exploration in the domestic United States and I've realized that might default and the default of many people, I think when they have their designated time for travel or vacation, is oftentimes to fantasize about the trips overseas.


And I've realized I have neglected to explore so much diversity in the United States itself.


So I'm planning on somehow transporting me and my pooch around the country, which I am very excited to do. And next thing I'd like to do is, is read something and get your comments on it. So this is this is from. A piece profile of yours in the The New Yorker, which congratulations, I guess it's one of the top 16, is it? Most read of the year profiles something along those lines. Oh, yeah.


Yeah, I saw that. Thanks to you, I think, on Twitter.


I did.


I might have driven some traffic there, which which I was happy to do and also hesitant to do, because I know that there are I'm sure there are things that are at the best incomplete and maybe completely off base at worst.


But that's just the nature of the beast when you're dealing with these types of profiles.


Yeah, I did a snarky responses section for that, like complete on that genius. Got it website.


So if anybody you're in line responses. Yeah. Does that make you can the writer can write his story and then I can add my stuff, read on the side and that kind of corrects for the one sidedness of normal New Yorker journalism.


Yeah, I might have to do that myself, although I'm not sure I want to reopen the wound. I was misquoted even after correcting fact checkers. I was misquoted and a number of people were misquoted probably half a dozen times in the piece that I had in The New Yorker, which really rankled me because, of course, it sits at the top of Google with page rank.


But yeah, water under the bridge for now.


I'll put that aside. The piece I wanted to read, though, I don't think is is going to. Push those buttons. Let me start with the following. So being an engineer and he runs the numbers once after his bike was apparently stolen, he ruminated on the wisdom of locking one's bike.


And this is this is then to your writing. This was the first theft in many, many years of very carefree living. The Craigslist replacement value of that bike was probably around five hundred dollars. What value do I place on a decade of the fearless freedom of leaving shit happily unlocked and not worrying about it?


How about the value of my time saved? Not spending my life fumbling with an enormous keychain 90 seconds a day for 10 years, 91 hours or at least forty five hundred dollars in my time at fifty dollars an hour, I was still coming out way ahead.


And you concluded if you can't afford to lose it, you can't afford to buy it yet. Otherwise the object owns you rather than vice versa.


And there are plenty of folks out there who who think we are more opposed then.


I think we are, because the type of math that you did here and I'd love to get your thoughts on it, but these are the types of things that I think about constantly because the how in the.


How many of these wrote decisions, common decisions are? Burning up the nonrenewable resource of time in the interest of some marginal utility. Perceived marginal utility in terms of dollars and cents, but I'd love to hear any sort of thoughts or or elaborations that you have on this, because I love this example.


Yeah, well, it is the the math sometimes explicit like that and sometimes more implicit that drives most of my decisions. And that's why I'm surprised, like anybody who says that Mr. Money, Mustache and Tim Ferriss are opposites in any kind of way. I think they're not really understanding the picture because it's really just an optimization process. Right. Like, I'm not opposed to spending money. My only limitations on spending money are no one has to make me happy.


And number two, a factor in my personal happiness is like resource consumption because I kind of know the numbers behind all the the costs to other people, like into the Earth or everything that I buy. So that kind of rules out certain types of spending that other non science non environmentalist people might feel OK about. But if you push that bit aside, it's all just about having the maximum amount of fun. So and if you have limited money, then having to go to work for a longer time is a genuine source of non fun.


And thus spending less money is going to give you more of something that's more fun, which is time, and then you're all set. So that's a win. And then now in this post work world where I've stumbled into more money than I could have imagined, having my spending hasn't changed. And that's just a sign that I got some of the decisions approximately right to begin with. And and if I had started buying more stuff afterwards, that might have been a sign that I didn't really do the math right to begin with.


What do you do with the and apologize? This is a simplistic question, but what do you do with the money that you have as a surplus in this post work life? What happens to you if the expenses aren't going up or nominally go up and down by a few thousand dollars a year?


How do you allocate the surplus?


Yeah, that's that's another thing that has to be optimized because I feel that money is such a valuable resource, so I'm still working on it. So I try to you know, I've I've been doing small donations, like paying for more stuff when other people I know can't afford it. And then I did a medium sized donation with the effect of under the effective altruism movement that I know that you've covered at one point. And your tools of Titan's book.


Yeah, Headwall McCaskill on the on the podcast, the co-founder or maybe founder of of that movement. Yeah.


And I think one of those two founders sent me an email after I sent my donation to them and they seemed really, really, really sharp people. So that's a that's one useful thing to do with surplus money. The only reason to have some of it still sitting in my investment accounts. And it's still rolling in, of course, because I still have this unexpected blog. Income is I feel like I can leverage the attention of all these people for something good.


And that would be bigger than just donating like a million dollars per whatever period to two standard causes. I think I would I would like to create kind of like one of those tipping point effects in the US that might, for example, tip us more towards bike based transfer temptation instead of car based and potentially save like billions and trillions of dollars of society's wealth and have it go somewhere better if the whole society got more excited about a different way of living.


So that's why I haven't just given away all the money yet, because I feel like, for example, what if I could start like a little mini town where we do things really awesomely? And this, of course, sounds a bit like a cult like, oh yeah, we start a commune.


But something also sounds like Singapore, right? I mean, yeah, right.


In a sense, the town within a town based on the ideas of cohousing or something like that. So these ideas are still swimming around in my head. Haven't solved the problem of how to deal with surplus money efficiently. But once I do, then I will start having some fun with it. And then I'll probably also start trying to make more money, like have the blog make more money, because then I'll have a use for it. And the I'd love to hear more about how you your decision making process or thought process or internal dialogue when you are considering buying something, what are the questions that you ask yourself?


And if it's related to happiness? I want to. Define that it may be a way to do that is, you know, how do you know when you're happy or unhappy? But I'd love to just maybe take those in in either order, really.


But with what's the what's the thought process like or the internal monologue slash dialogue when you're considering buying something?


Yeah, well, usually I try to start with, like, no, you wienie. What do you think? What kind of consumer are you? Like just a little bit of mental beat down to shut off the easiest things. That's what keeps me from buying like, like a Tesla Model S or something like that, because even though I think it's a great car, I support it. I know for sure that wouldn't make me any happier because I don't even have anything to do with it.


Like, I don't drive, really. So, so obvious stuff gets shut off. But then when you get into, like, things that you're pretty sure you want, then you just think about it for longer, procrastinate a little bit, see if the desire goes away a bit, and then consider how much space that thing is going to take up in my my limited space of my studio, for example. And then imagine how I would feel if it broke, because a lot of stuff does break even if you have high quality gear.


And it's really annoying to deal with things, things that break. And if you have the warranty, fix it. And finally, I ask myself, is this removing a negative in my life? Because it's pretty well studied that happiness is not very much affected by adding positives to your life. It's mostly especially in a rich world environment like we live, it's mostly accomplished by removing things that are a strong negative to every day. So getting myself like a remote control photography drone is unlikely to make me happier because my life doesn't currently suck due to the absence of photography.


Drone quadcopter thing is. So that's, you know, and whereas if there's something that every day I'm like, damn it, I just wish I didn't always trip over this, you know, broken dishwasher or whatever, that then replacing your dishwasher is is probably going to be a happiness boosting proposition.


What what purchases or productions for that matter. I know you make a lot of things, but what purchases just to to stick with one category. That come to mind have most improved your happiness by removing negatives. Yeah, well, that's a perfect follow up question, because I'm talking to you right now in this studio building that I made over the process of the last year. It's kind of thriftily, like a 400 square foot modernist thing with a lot of windows and and overlooking this nice forested park behind my house.


So I had a consistent problem after I moved to this current house we live in in 2013. It's a bit too small for our style of living. So I was genuinely tripping over stuff a bit and always having to move things around. And I had some of my equipment are in the back like my table. So I would have to live under a tarp during the rare Colorado precipitation events and realize, you know, more space would actually solve this problem.


And I always wanted to have a detached studio anyway to play music. And because I don't want to have to, like, drown out my family's ears when I'm playing bad rock music with my friends. So I built the studio and I did it all myself because I know from experience that this manual labor and solving physical problems is one of the happiest things I can possibly do, just like, you know, hundreds of hours of lifting and sweating and digging and, you know, all these amazing, useful outdoor things with friends.


And now I'm I'm in it. You know, I'm recording a Tim first podcast in my studio, surrounded my drums and bass and guitar and watching the trees sway outside. So this has been a really a genuine happiness boosting spending expenditure of money. And it's brought me happiness pretty much from the day I broke ground on this, you know, this piece of dirt. So there's no regrets there, even though that was a lot more than than a few dinners out that I spent on this thing.


I've been I've been hoping and wishing and fantasizing at some point about building my own structure. I have not done this and I've thought about it ever since. I had Kevin Kelly on the podcast, founding editor of Wired magazine. Incredible guy. I mean, really, the real life world's most interesting man in so many ways.


An impeccable technology futurist who has an Amish beard and spends time with the Amish people can listen to the episode. It's a long story, but I asked him what every person should do at least once in their lifetime, and he said, build a home, build a house.


And every time. This is a lesson I need to relearn over and over again.


I use my hands in that capacity. That manual labor reward, like you said, it's it's just unbelievable.


Even yesterday I was I was purging, donating a bunch of stuff that I just don't need.


I was I was I was getting rid of a bunch of stuff in the body, the simple visual reward of the before and after using my hands to move a bunch of stuff around and have that before and after.


So much more rewarding than some of the biggest things I've done on a laptop or on the Web in the last few months, I felt ashamed. In some ways, it's such a menial, mundane set of tasks was so rewarding to Jack.


Kevin Kelly is right. And this is why, as a fellow lifestyle guru, admittedly a junior lifestyle guru, I spend most of my time doing manual labor, even though I can make, you know, infinite money typing shit into the computer and publishing it to, you know, the cult following. I hardly do that at all because the knot doesn't work for everybody. But certain people get incredible satisfaction out of building because it's like the Zen aspect of it.


There's like physical and mental and problem-solving. It's like it's like what a human was made to do. So Kevin is right. In fact, the house that I live in, I also built before I built the studio I built is a slight exaggeration because there was a bit of a shell. I tore it down to like a brick shell and then rebuilt it to a different shape. But and every time, like every night, especially in the winter here, when it snows, I look up at the trees and like the snow falling on the roof that I made and the fireplace that I put in there and the heating system that I designed, pumping water under my floors and eating at my feet.


I'm like, this is the most satisfying thing I could possibly experience. So, yeah, you should figure out a way to build something, at least like a shed quarters or like a man cave type thing in your backyard. And I have this thing called carbon tourism where I go out to people in need and build fun stuff with them and teach them how to build. So if you ever want to do a team work Tim Ferriss studio, then I'm I'm making this offer now.


I'd make a quite interesting story.


I could I could be a like an operating room assistant of sorts. You'd be like hammer, hammer, screwdriver, screwdriver.


I think I'd be more of a liability otherwise.


But that's how you learn though.


I give you the nailgun and. You'll make some mistakes and we'll bring a welder and then you're like, explode some stuff, but later you'll be making fine welding lines and yeah, you know, I might take you up on that.


I love Colorado. I've been spending more and more time in Colorado.


Well, I was assuming we would build something at your eyes, pieces of the world where you need a structure because you don't need to, like, build stuff for me. And that's not good enough for you.


I was thinking about the people in need, but maybe they don't want, like, some horrible, atrocious Picasso painting of a table where they're like, I didn't really want some abstract, weird thing.


Varus if you could, you could use parallel lines next time, please. In this case, you were the person in need because you're this, you know, this accomplished guy who has yet a hole in your life where you haven't actually built a house yet. So. So I felt sorry for you, that's all.


All right. I will I will put a bookmark in that. I may take you up on it. Here's here are a few questions related to consumption, because I think about I do think about consumption a fair amount.


Living in San Francisco on some level helps because you can't walk five or ten feet without having someone talk to you about it or seeing billboards or seeing announcements and so on related to some type of conservation order or curbing consumption. But if you a few questions for you. The first is. I and this is related to kids, so I don't have kids, one of the considerations has been a concern for consumption. So how do you reconcile? Kids with consumption or do you not see them as dramatically increasing the sort of consumptive burden?


Oh, yeah, kids are definitely a huge form of consumption. Like if you're a rich world resident and you have a kid, you know, that's that's another hundred years of rich world lifestyle going on there. So but I'm not a pure person. I strategically indulge in fun stuff. And and my wife and I knew we wanted to have kids and we just happened to feel that one was the right number for us. And I'm not judgmental against other people, but I think it's just it's one of the things to throw into your equation of, like, child raising.


Like, should I have one or maybe 13 or like, well, if if consumption of natural resources is a factor, you might not have 13. But if it's not a factor, you know, no judgment for me. And so we got one. And then you can have probably like a four x four hundred percent difference in the amount of consumption you do on behalf of your child, just depending on how you raise them, depending on what activities they're into and what kind of stuff you buy them and how you train them as well.


If you train them like, hey, we're rich and rich, people get to buy whatever they want, then you're going to raise a super consumer and more the richer you are. Whereas if you teach them that there's a balance and give them a little bit of biology and science in their upbringing, then they're going to have a value system that prevents them from being nearly as destructive. And yet they'll probably still have more fun in the world as well.


Is it true that you. Paid your son per mile, ridden on his bike at one point. Yeah, we still do that. There's just kind of I like this, by the way, this is not in any way a criticism, right?


Every parent, many of them like to find excuses to give their kids money in order for them to figure out how to manage it at a young age. So I didn't want to just hand over money like your money comes from nowhere. So I thought that bicycling would be kind of a low income system for him. So he has an odometer on his bike, so it automatically tracks the miles. And then I just give him 10 cents a mile, which adds up pretty fast if you're an old bicycle family.


So I just give him a little payout's and then we've got a spreadsheet where we keep track of his money. He's 11 years old, by the way, and and that earns interest. So he has a comparison of like if I keep my money in the bank of dad, then I'm going to earn interest. Or if I spend it, my capital decreases. And then that interest bearing piece of my little green employees are gone forever. So he still spends his money, of course, but he just knows everything's a trade off, which is makes it more, more thoughtful.


Now you are an engineer and it's it seems like you have a strong engineer genetic throughline in your family.


Has your son tried to Ferris Bueller the odometer at any point? Of course, doing the opposite. Has he figured out how to how to tinker with his odometer? Or I guess is he so good that perhaps you wouldn't have noticed? Yeah, I mean, you never know.


He might be hooking it up to a cordless drill and spinning that front wheel. But no, I don't think he's not that's not in his personality. Like, he's not into really cheating on anything is plus, is this kind of an abundance? Like he has more money than he can spend? A little dude has like a thousand bucks in his spreadsheet now, and the only thing he really wants to buys is the odd video game, which might be like twenty or thirty dollars once every few months.


So he's pretty much retired already because the passive income that he's earning his is close to finding his video game needs.


Either that or he's got the best long con in history like he's been he's been conning you with his good behavior for 11 years just to just to tinker with this odometer, which I don't think is the case.


But for those people who are listening, and I'm sure you're asked this all the time, but books on investing or personal finance, are there any go to recommendations?


And they don't have to be books. They could be resources. But for people who want to self educate, it certainly be one of your top one or two blog posts as well. But if you were to pick from potentially your own stuff, but also from other work that's out there, where would you direct people?


I think it depends on how interested in investing you are. One of the key nice things about the world, especially the US financial system, is you don't have to know much to be a very good investor, like you can be a top 10 percent investor by just buying one Vanguard fund and leaving your money, just putting all your extra money in there forever. So if you're if that's your idea of a good enough, which it should be for most people, then you can just read any book by Jack Bogle.


John Bogle, the founder of Vanguard, is one good example. A friend of mine who's a blogger named Jim Collins wrote this book called The Simple Path to Wealth, which is just sort of like a even simpler, more story based like enjoyable old man's tales, explanation of how why you should invest in index funds. And so that's another idea, but much more important than how to invest. As long as you don't screw up your investing, like leave your money in a checking account or buy a shifty life insurance whole life program or whatever, you know, the the things that swindle people out of their money, you're going to be fine in the investing side.


So the other side of that equation is a book, and I really want to write a book myself. So then I can just recommend my own. But for now is a really great one that's called your money or your life that everybody's heard of. And if you just get your get the whatever the latest edition of that book is, it really teaches you a philosophy that's pretty similar to mine, which is that consumption is not really what's making you happy, buying yourself treats.


And it's quite easy to become financially independent as soon as you modify your spending in that way. So huge surplus of money is on a weekly or monthly basis is the real solution to your financial problems rather than becoming a super kickass investor?


Yeah, there's a book that I read. I don't know if you've ever read this book.


It does primarily focus on low cost index funds, if I remember correctly, but by Daniel Solan. The smartest investment book you'll ever read, I have heard of it, and I had I quite enjoyed that book is a little more nuanced. Certainly anything by Bhogle is is fantastic for people who want to dig deeper there.


Any additional books that you would recommend or that you've enjoyed yourself? Yeah, if you want to get deeper, like, for example, more into the Warren Buffett sat side of things where you're an active investor. One really interesting book that I read a few years ago is called The Little Book That Beats the Market. And it's really a lesson on investing value investing fundamentals, how to understand if a company actually is a good deal to buy and that helps put a regular, you know, like a sober shell around investing instead of the ridiculous speculation like technical chart investing, I think is it's kind of universally proved to be bunk, but people are still doing it like, oh, yeah, the Bollinger bands are wild this week.


I'm going to you know, I see a support level at fifty three point five unless something happens, like all that stuff is statistically it keeps being proven wrong and people keep doing it. So don't do that. If you're going to be an active investor, then get really good at understanding companies rather than technical fluctuations. And that's why Warren Buffett makes a lot of money above the rock of returns, because he's a savant in understanding business and some people genuinely are that like it.


Maybe it would probably be less than one in a thousand people. He's also do that.


He's also a savant in emotional detachment in the sense that I'd love to talk to you a bit about stoicism and so on at some point. But he is utterly unaffected by what he would call Mr. Market. Right.


The the ups and downs of any given company that he may have bought in the form of shares or outright if he purchased the entire acquire the entire company.


And that type of emotional detachment is also exceptionally, exceptionally rare.


Yeah. And that goes without saying to me that's a prerequisite. I don't I don't have that at all.


So I think what we'll know in the sense that if if I'm going to be active, it is very hard for me to be an active investor in publicly traded equities. For whatever reason, I can do highly speculative startups.


And that's a disturbingly high percentage of my portfolio because I can't balance a portfolio with illiquid assets. It's very challenging, certainly. But with with publicly traded equities, if I'm trying to be active in any capacity, I do very poorly emotionally with those fluctuations and I make bad decisions. OK, but if we're talking about something like an index, then I'm fine. If it's if it's if it's and if it's entirely hands off and I have other people or in some type of say, automated fashion with whether it's a wealth front or something else, then I don't have any trouble with it.


Yeah, OK, yeah, that's and since I don't do active stuff anymore, then that's I'm totally would agree with you on that.


An agreement the the book you mentioned was that by Joel Greenblatt, the little book that beats the market. Yeah, that's right.


Yeah. It's really interesting. And it was a little book which is perfect from my short book, Attention Span. He is.


Yeah. Joel is is exceptionally is an exceptionally smart guy and he has a fascinating track record because he he can teach and he has taught in in classrooms in New York at universities, he can write. And he's also very, very well respected as not only a value investor, but also in what you would call an event based investor. So his first book, I think it was his first book is perhaps the most sophisticated of them all, which is where people can make the most mistakes.


So I think the the little book that beats the market makes more sense as a as a first reader, maybe the his later book, The Big Secret for the Small Investor, but a book with the title that is is sort of blessed.


And Kurstin the same way that the four hour work week just sounds so schlocky, as if it's going to appear at 3:00 in the morning on an infomercial that it's but it's highly memorable.


So it's been helpful and punishing.


At the same time. He has a book called You Can Be a Stock Market Genius, which is actually really sophisticated.


I've met some of the most successful and most of by the way, hedge fund managers are not successful, but the handful I've met who have been exceptionally successful. This book, which is intended for novices effectively, is one of their favorite books. So lots of lots of. Yeah, lots of interesting stuff out there. Yeah, I'm going to check that one out for sure, since I like Joel Greenblatt's writing a lot and I still follow. You know, I read an investment and finance books all the time.


I just try not to recommend them too much on my blog because it's supposed to be about. Lifestyle and making your life good, and I don't want it to be all esoteric, but sure, I do like the Timothy Geithner book stress test, I read that 800 page description of the financial crisis, and I found it pretty captivating knowing what really happened in the background. But, yeah, for the average person, it's not going to help them get rich and retire earlier.


So I don't talk about it too much.


Well, on top of that, if you want a cautionary tale. So for those of you out there who love, love, love reading, at least if a book is captivating, what you should get. At the same time, if you decide to get the you can be a stock market genius by Joel Greenblatt, which is exceptional. You should also read a book that will be a cautionary tale. And it's a cautionary tale because it it details the types of people that you are competing against.


If you choose to be really active in certain respects and it's a fantastic read, it's more money than God.


And it is about the birth of the hedge fund model and a number of the characters and most successful managers in that world. It's a bit like a liar's poker. But instead of bonds, they're talking about hedge funds and it will give you a very good idea of who you are competing against.


And when you step on when you step onto the metaphorical golf green and you throw your money down as your participation and bet on yourself the fact that Tiger Woods is probably two holes ahead, you become super, super clear.


And I should also add just to. In a sense, reinforce what you said about index funds, say, when I went to the only time I had a chance to go to the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, and I think they've stopped doing open Q&A with Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger.


But I actually ran in and it's it's insane. I mean, it is like a gigantic rock concert for investment nerds and people will camp out overnight to try to get a good seat.


And I ran in and I was someone's guest, which was great because I was able to get in a little earlier than the entire the entire stadium full of folks effectively. And I ran in and I found somebody who was volunteering or working there. And I said, which microphone is the hardest to get to? Because they had microphones all throughout this this venue. And that's where you would yell to ask your question if they got to you. And I figured, you know what?


People are going to be long winded. Maybe the answers will be long winded, although they very seldom are, especially if Charlie Munger is involved.


And I need to find a mic where I can be first or second person in line. And so I ran up, went through this crazy set of staircases and found this mike there was in the middle of nowhere. And I asked Warren Buffett if you were 30.


And I said hypothetically, if you were 30, you had, say, five hundred thousand dollars to a million dollars in savings.


And there were a couple of other stipulations, but what would you do with the money and is and he said, assuming you're not a professional investor, I would put it into the S&P five hundred or in an index fund and get back to work. And that was it. That was that was the end of the answer. And Charlie, do you have anything more to add note and then on to the next question. So, yeah, it's good advice.


It is, because there's so much more to work on in your life. Like if you're going to become a really good investor, you're probably going to compromise in the areas of being a good parent or being a good maintaining good physical fitness or in life like you're not really optimizing. You're not supposed to optimize for money. You're supposed to optimize for happiness, which has a lot of dimensions. So you should really like take the sort of the for our investor your approach and be like everyone says, this is good.


I'm just going to do it and I'm going to work on all the other stuff in my life that that also needs to be addressed. Yeah, well, let's let's jump into some some rapid fire questions, as I call them. But your answers don't need to be short. I'll just try to keep my long winded question as to a minimum. So outside of your immediate family, when you hear the word successful, who's the first person who comes to mind for you or who's a person who comes to mind for you and why?


Yeah, wrack my brain over this question because I know it's a standard Feris podcast question and I don't have a answer that anybody would recognize because I can't judge the success of any celebrities are well known people because success is such a balanced thing and it depends on how happy you are at home and how nice you are to the people who are close to you.


So to me, the people in my life that I've seen seem to be very high in success range are a couple of friends. These are male friends that run their own business. They basically both fit into the same description. So they run their own business. They're a little bit older than me. Their business is extremely successful, but they've scaled it right, right back in order to be a lifestyle business and hand it off. A lot of responsibility to their employees and they kind of pay them more because there's so much surplus anyway.


And you're like, OK, you deal with all the junk in exchange for you never calling me the weekends. So both these friends work pretty minimal, like ten to twenty hours a week. And yet somehow their businesses keep doing better because of this hands off approach. So they're making even more money, but yet they have a fairly mustache and lifestyle. And this is probably because I met these guys through the blog and then they both have kids and have really, really good relationships with their their children.


They're semi adult children and their wife and basically just really good shape, physical shape. They do a lot of adventures. They always say, yes, if I invite them to do something, they're like, oh yeah, that's sure. We'll we'll fly over and meet you in that random spot for some mountain biking or whatever. So they've they've managed to combine all of these dimensions of what most people want in a kind of a carefree way. And they're not overly focused on any one of them, which allows them to be extremely fun people to be around.


So that's my definition of success and that's what I kind of hope for, for myself. By the time I'm like fifty years old with a pretty old kid.


We're on the flip side, we talked about what some of the critics get wrong, what perhaps media sometimes misinterpret.


Where do where do your fans get it wrong? What are the most common mistakes that your readers make or misinterpretations when when do they get the message wrong? That's pretty rare.


I find it's it's pretty. I write a lot of stuff. Right. So anybody who reads a lot, they'll see all the little nuances and bits and what I try to express as a philosophy. But for those of those readers who don't have all the details, a lot of people assume that I'm very, you know, like I would be mad at them if I ever found out that they bought something luxurious, like, oh, don't tell Mr. Money Mustache.


I bought this two thousand dollar mountain bike because I really love bikes. But, you know, everything else is good. And like, I don't I don't judge people to nearly the standards that they think I judge them to.


So and the other thing is it's the same for people who don't know my real life. They often assume that it's pretty Spartan and and then I'm always penny-pinching. And this goes back to the same answer with The New Yorker article, too. But I'm I'm really I'm really in favor of of celebrating and decadence and feeling like stuff is luxury. So so I'm really not as minimalist as people people think I am. I'm really maximalist in the fun department besides the studio.


What are some of those luxuries? And we could tie that into you and let's limit it to purchases that have most positively impact.


Your life or that you just love because they're so damn fun for you. What what are some of those things? Um. Well, some of the some of it is vacations. So since since retiring from real jobs, my wife and I have had a nice tradition of going somewhere semih tropical every winter for a good long period. Most winters, at least sometimes the school schedule messes it up a bit. But but yeah, for a month or more we'll often go.


And so we spend some money on these vacations and we'll rent a nice house on a beach like in Florida or Hawaii or Costa Rica or whatever. So vacations and most of the money goes to rent basically like the boat type stuff. Airbnb sure is one example of indulgences that I still have a lot of warm memories from. And I really like knowing that I can do that any time. So even when I'm not on vacation right now in January and sometimes if the cold weather blows in, I think and I could just press a few buttons on this computer and just fly right out to anybody's Vrba and be there within like a day or two.


And just having that freedom is a form of luxury in itself. And then I can go out and shovel some snow and be happy about it. And yeah, the other purchases is really expensive. But when I built out the current house. The main house rather than the studio, I was feeling pretty rich at the time, so I I went a bit high end on some of the stuff, like I have this really gorgeous, high efficiency, wood burning wood stove fireplace thing that brings me pleasure every day, even though it is more expensive than, you know than than just a basic fireplace.


And the window is in my house, for example, are very kind of these fancy windows that cost about five times more than than it would have cost if I had gone bare bones. So it's usually stuff related to home vacation and food. You know, we've been known to go out for sushi a bit more than a. A person in debt should go into sushi, so we take advantage of our non debt status. It's really not too much, though.


Do you have any favorite documentaries or movies? My favorite I'm actually got a huge, huge list of documentaries that I've been meaning to watch, many of them collected from there, from the guests on your tools of Titan's book. But the one that I did watch and enjoy is actually a series rather than a documentary. But the The Cosmos, the remake of Cosmos, Neil deGrasse Tyson.


Yeah, I love Neil deGrasse Tyson and I love his awkward but scientific way. And the topics he covered in those in those episodes were like so stunning. And it was a great education for my son, who was very, very into science himself. So that's kind of like that's the documentary that stands out in my mind, the Great Southern most interesting thing in the last five years anyway. Yeah, it's a fact. It's a fantastic series.


I've been hoping and meaning to have Neil on the podcast. We've had, I guess, some some indirect email exchanges. So if anybody's good buddies with Neil, give him a poke and let them know that it's going to happen on the podcast.


Maybe if you were to give a TED talk on something that you are not known for.


What would you give it on? So any any kind of pet obsession or something your lesser known for maybe your diehard fans who've read every single line of everything you've ever written, would have heard of it. But, yeah, if you had to get.


I do have an answer. Yes. So if you define the thing that I'm known for the early retirement Mr. Money Mustache stuff, then the other topic that I'm super passionate about is, is energy. And like the world energy balance and solar power and how the humans, how humans consume it and how we can basically fix our energy consumption related to climate change and all this stuff. So I'd probably write one up about that and explain how we're at this insanely close tipping point where fossil fuels are just about to be.


Economically unfeasible, even without regulations and stuff, and I think that can make a good TED talk, because a lot of people are you need to popularize the ideas and right now they're kind of dry and numbers based, like you're talking about terra jewels and kilogram CO2 and all this stuff. And there's a lot more fun and emotion in that topic if you if you package it right. So I think that'll be a good talk. Yeah.


What is your what I've been curious about and you've written about this before, but when you are if you if you were to think of when you when when you were in your best physical shape in the last five years, what did the exercise regimen look like?


I saw a photograph of you, I want to say, squatting outside at an outdoor squat rack. Am I making that up?


Yeah, that was my most recent blog post. OK, starting to get a little old now, but yeah.


So if you think back to when you were in the best shape and you can define that any way you like, what, what did your exercise regimen look like.


Yeah, it's, I might be in in some ways and some of the best shape I'm in my life right now. And that is just a pretty casual program, but with really efficient barbell exercises combined with just a whole bunch of walking and biking construction. So so the the barbell stuff is just squats, deadlifts, clean and press a little bit of benching and stuff with cuttle belts and dumbbells and generally using weights that I can just barely lift five times.


And the total expenditure per week is only in the order of like an hour or two. So I'm not like a gym rat, so that right now I'm pretty happy with the way my body is working, especially for a forty one year old or whatever I am. But the the strong I was slightly stronger when I was in my twenties and it was basically the same stuff. But just going to the gym for a longer period and training, it was really just more hours put in and that's when I probably had my record weight lifting and certain exercises.


Do you a quote or any quotes that you live your life by or think of often? I don't really think in quotes too often. Maybe with the exception of use it or lose, it seems to come up at least a couple of times a day. I'd say that's often enough to to be a response.


Yeah. It's so short and and thus memorable. You don't have to be all flowery and poetic to appreciate the use it or lose it. But I think it's because in the current stage of my life, being over 40 and then having some family members with, you know, some people have died in my family and I had serious health problems like in the extended family. And it's really made me more aware of mortality and how stuff doesn't automatically stay in perfect condition.


And even if even if it does stay in perfect condition, you're unlikely to live forever unless some really, really big medical stuff changes before I turn one hundred so I use it or lose it is is a philosophy like brain body skills, friendships, relationships. Just do everything that you want to be good at as often as you can.


And don't fool yourself that you're going to keep being able to do this stuff unless you continue doing it regularly in the.


And I don't know which label to use here, but in this frugality or low cost living world, what is the worst advice or what is bad advice that you hear given often? I think the biggest issue with that I have with a lot of this mainstream financial advice is that they're they make you think of saving as a negative, a kind of a negative obligation. They're like, yeah, we know it feels a lot better to buy yourself treats, but come on, like if you can just squeeze out five percent or even 10 percent, then you're you're doing OK.


Just do that every week and make a budget and all this stuff. And so you're you're training people to think that saving is bad and you want to minimize it. Whereas I think it's a win win and most of our spending is is a sign of weakness. And it's a bunch of stuff that we do to compensate for our weaknesses because we couldn't solve the problem in a smarter way, like as we talked about earlier, it's possible to walk or bike to work, which is a physical and mental win, and it just happens to cost a lot less.


So I encourage people to radically reshape their entire lifestyle, to be optimized and all these dimensions. And sure, you happen to save fifty to seventy five percent of your income as a as a byproduct. But the only reason that's a win is because your life is better as well. And normal financial advice is it doesn't really address the life stuff. And you see a lot of these totally out of shape. Business guru, people trying to sell life insurance at the same time as they're giving you financial advice and they're not really, you know, they're not really in it for making people's lives better.


I think that's where that's where it falls flat. Yeah, for sure.


And, yeah, it's it's important, I think certainly in almost every area, but in the world of financial planning and advice to ensure that the person giving the advice has done what they're suggesting or has some practice putting their words into action because otherwise they have a stress test, their ideas, or at the very worst, they're a hypocrite and they're doing the opposite of them.


Are there any failures that come to mind which are favorite failures of yours in the sense that they ended up sowing the seeds of a later success, does anything like that come to mind for you?


Yeah, I have a pretty pretty serious one that I call have an article called Mr. Money. Mustache is Big Mistake. And it's right after I retired at thousand five, I kind of faded in to a my first dream retirement job, which was to start a custom house building company where I was going to make these beautiful, eco friendly houses. I did actually. We started making these houses and and the problem was it was way, way more stressful than than what I wanted for a retirement job.


And I just had this new baby boy at the same time. And suddenly I had all these obligations and like a construction loan to build this thing. And I was doing marketing and working late and wrangling all these cats together like their contractors to help out building the places. And it wasn't really a retirement at all. And on top of that, we did it right in time for the housing crisis.


So like we sold our first house into the 2006 boom market for housing. But then by the time the second one was done in 2007 and everything was slowing down and then starting to drop like a rock, and then I was stuck with this beautiful ready to sell house and nobody wanted to buy it for any kind of reasonable sum.


So that was kind of soiled. The funds for the fun of my first three years of retirement is running this company. At the same time, though, going through hardship was was really good for me. I had to do a lot of hard stuff that I wouldn't have done.


And that's how I learned a lot of my. Best carpentry stuff, the skills that I'm most skilled, I'm most proud of is like I've always messed around with woodworking since I was a little kid. But by being forced into production on these expensive modernist houses where everything has to be perfect, it really trained me a lot. And I enjoy those skills now. So the combination of shittiness and skills and then then we shut this company down. And since then I've been truly retired and had so much more fun looking back and like, wow, I'm sure glad I'm not doing that anymore.


So I lost a bunch of money. Some of my retirement savings went up in smoke initially, and then I was started to be a bit more worried about money. That was a big part of it because I was like, oh, all my hard earned savings. And if I could go back and change that, I would probably still do it. But I would train myself to be just so much more relaxed about it and be like, dude, don't worry, you're going to have so much fun after this and you're not going to run out of money.


So I just have a good time with your business, even if even if it fails.


What was the process like of shutting it down in the sense that was there a particular dinner or conversation or bike ride or a moment when you decided to start the process of shutting it down? And how did that what did that look like?


Well, it was pretty it's pretty quick because I bought these two vacant lots and kind of a premium New Urbanist neighborhood with my business partner in there and the company. And then we started building the first one, and it was the aforementioned stress was high. And I was like, oh, what have I got myself into? Okay, let's just get these things done and then be done with it. So then I got the first one done and then like, whew, that was great.


Big success. It sold for more than we were even asking for it. And then the second one got more and more stressful.


And I already knew before I even started that second one that I wanted to shut down the business afterwards. It just got drawn out longer. And then we got into, like, renting it out. But then the tenants turned out to be horrible. And I had these, like, scam artists move in that we didn't realize were scam artists. And they were like, oh, yeah, we got we just sent you the rent that's in your mailbox.


Check your mailbox, click and hang up and all these little tricks. And the guy had like this fancy, like, brand new Corvette that he had bought and he had to hide it in the garage because the repo man would take it back if he ever saw it outside. So all he could do is like pull it out, polish it and rev it and then put it back in the garage. And these people were just really messed up. And I happened to get tangled in the web for a while and we had to use the the full on eviction with the sheriff coming to the door to get him out of my place.


And so, yeah, there was some education in there.


That sounds like a headache. So what did it feel like? When was it finally done? Shut down completely. What did what did that day feel like?


I'd say we shut down the one of the biggest problem with this is that the relationship between me and my friend who started it and business partner, it it just soured and it became pretty bad by the end. And we had totally different views about work and money and dividing stuff up. So we finally got him out of there by I basically had to buy out the company. I had to put like I had lost all this money and I had to put like a final four hundred and sixty thousand dollars into the company to pay off this mortgage that was on the house just to kick him off the the deed, the property deed so that I could have control of it.


So that day was kind of like we're like frowning at each other over the lawyer's table or whatever. And then since then that that lifted the weight off of me and then everything was so much better. And then for a while, I rented out the house to great tenants. And I had in that situation, I was just using the rent for kind of our grocery money because that house was a fairly big portion of our retirement savings income at the time.


And then more recently, I think just less than two years ago, I the market in our area here in Colorado started the boom again. So I just sold it for a nice high price. And then now I've been super relaxed. And then that's kind of like another wave. And it really taught me a lot about happiness because this negativity in my life, or at least I was choosing to perceive it negatively, it was washed away. And then suddenly I was happier than I could have ever imagined being because I had gone through this somewhat hellish situation and then removed the negative.


Yeah, which is is such a valuable question.


I the question to ask before purchase that that alone will return one hundred the effort of scheduling and doing this interview.


For me, that question is this removing a negative from my life. The. Such a powerful refrain, because I think that is so true and so, so incredibly useful, but then the next, which is going to be. Completely flipping that on its head. And this is not one of my usual questions, but I'm so curious to know how you will answer this if if you had.


Had to spend you were given one hundred thousand dollars and they said, you have to spend this, you have to buy something or some things you cannot donate donated to charity. You cannot stick it into an investment vehicle. You have to spend it. And it has to be on you, your family or your close friends, but it can't be charitable in the sense that you're paying for the college tuition of your friend's kids and so on. Nothing like that.


How how would you spend that? What would you do?


That was my answer. You just took my answer. I knew because I felt like it was coming because I could pay off somebody's mortgage.


There's still one family member in my close family that has a mortgage. But, yeah, we want we want to consume here. Yeah.


It can have more than a hundred dollars. Sure, sure. No, it's not limited. It's not limited. This is just let's just say that you took a step into bizarro land where everything was, what it wasn't, and suddenly you are the anti mustache, right?


Yeah. And what would you do? Well, the thing is, this might actually be somewhat realistic because I still consider every day, you know, is there something I could spend money on that would be worth it? It's still an open question. You don't want to be ideological about this stuff. But so one thing I've been interested in maybe buying and if I was forced to, I would do it quickly. Is there is a building I kind of want to own a commercial building on our town's little historic main street.


This town I live in Longmont, Colorado, is kind of one of these over one hundred year old things where it's all historic with big trees and the narrow main street with a tall brick buildings on it. So I could buy one of those and then set up some kind of fun community space in there where we we play music and we have parties and we rent it out and do some teaching, too, because I like to do a bit of volunteer math and science teaching to to kids kind of advanced stuff that they don't get in the normal school.


So I could have like Professor Mustaches, School of Science in my downtown building so that that would be kind of a fun use of money.


Yeah, this is more, of course, a metaphorical question, but if you could have one gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it, I would say short message or image that you would like to impart to the world. Right. I'm picturing this in a US metropolis because that's kind of where I'm focusing my efforts right now. So I think I would say I think I would say walk or maybe you would say just walk. Something that people can really understand quickly without getting.


Yeah. Back to our original thoughts. Like it's the under it's the best prescription medication in the world, and yet it's so under done so far. So it's my billboard. Yeah.


It's we've made as a species so many evolutionary trade offs to be able to walk with a level head unlike, say, a pig that doesn't have a nuchal ligaments, their heads, Bob, all over the place. We've evolved to be able to, as it would seem, a survival imperative, walk very long distances. And I just feel like humans are generally better humans and less neurotic when they walk a lot.


At least that's true for me. I'll speak for myself.


I'm like 10 percent less neurotic, which is which is a win for me.


That's our billboard. Could say just walk. You've paid a high evolutionary price for this ability and let's not squander it.


What are what are one of your biggest challenges right now? How do you plan to think about it or face it? I think my biggest challenge is the over satisfied. Rat in a cage syndrome, where it's a fine line between being too satisfied with your life, with your life, and not doing enough so that you feel like a bit of a weenie at the end of the day for squandering one of the few days of your life versus over driving yourself to be like, well, you're going to accomplish more.


You know, I have all these gifts and and great situations and I have to make the most of it. And taking either of those two extremes can lead to a pretty unsatisfying life. And this often I often compare myself, actually, because this is a little bit weird. But to you as Tim Ferriss, because I've read some of your books and I see some of your self reflection in there where you have some of these battles, you're like, well, should I be a perfectionist or should I relax?


And I have a lot of these same questions to myself. And one of the differences is that I chose to have a kid and I focus a lot of energy on that, which by definition subtracts a lot of the other stuff I could do, like why am I not running my own kind of Tesla type company or whatever? So that's my challenge is trying to walk the line and have the at the end of each day be satisfied that I've created the right balance of, like, stress and accomplishment versus lazy decadence, which is part of the fun of really being early retired, is that you generally can, like, just smoke a bowl and have some fun with your friends on a Wednesday and like sleep in and it does not matter.


And you still are going to have all the money that you need no matter what. So and that's still yeah, I still have trouble. I've been a little bit on the lazy side in the last couple of weeks because of family conditions here at home. And so I'm I'm craving to get back to work on something hard.


How will you how how do you think you'll explore that in the coming year, testing that balance or trying different things to try to find it? Or maybe it's a maybe it's a matter of just oscillating between the polls and that's how you achieve balance. It's not like you never it's not like you're over 50 50 for a long period of time. You just oscillate between the polls. I don't know. But how are you thinking about that? Because I'm I'm also thinking about the same thing in 2017.


Yeah, well, it's a continuing series of experiments and it's always changing. Like I've been at this for a long time. It's been 11 years since I had a real job. And I've done a lot of hard stuff and then a medium amount of laziness in this time. And so I keep trying stuff to see if I enjoy it. So like last August, for example, I wanted to see if I enjoyed the TED talk kind of public speaking.


And I did a whole bunch of traveling around that as well. And I found it was a bit too much like I enjoyed the actual stuff that I did, but I was craving being at home. And then that's made me realize that most of my joy comes when I'm actually creating something. And this is why I'm less travel oriented than other people, because I can't really create I'm traveling. So I need to do a certain amount of like nitty gritty construction and design and just hanging out and having an unplanned, spontaneous people coming over for a party or a barbecue or whatever.


So I need this village life. You imagine a primitive man living in a village where he spends half the time hunting some of the time, like building stuff and some of the time travelling around the fire. That's kind of my core of happiness. And when I get too much into lifestyle guru activities like I mean to publish more articles, I get this book done quickly or say yes to all these interviews so I can have more and more fans and page views.


Those things sound actually. They sound dumb when I say it like that.


But when you look at that, when you look at news headlines about yourself, you're like that's successful, or you look at page views or money, you go, yeah, that's success. But it's actually kind of the least happy thing that I do. It's the least satisfaction bringing. So I have to balance that with with these much more villages type of activities. But if I if I totally neglect the Internet world, then I'll feel like I'm letting the world down because you can actually create good, positive change that way that you could never do just in your own village.


Right. What have you changed your mind on in the last, say, handful of years, is there anything that you've done an about face on in any way or modified substantially in your thinking?


There have been a few little things like what type of eating is healthy? I kind of switched to the the high fat, low carb eating on a whim after reading some books, and I'm really, really happy with that. Whereas before when I was a teenager, I was the ultimate low fat because I read all these bodybuilding magazines back then and and they were always telling you, like, oh yeah, 10 grams of fat would be way too much to have and other stuff.


So that was a change in a little way. The biggest change I've had, though, is more in my understanding of happiness. I thought that happiness came from from maximum achievement and maximum wealth. And as I got into experimenting with those things, sounds too much like my other answer. But I learned much more about the balance that's required for happiness. So it's changed my goals for the rest of my life. Is that. There's a lot more to happiness than just being maxed out in one dimension, so I only have a few questions left.


I'm having a lot of fun. I mean, we keep going for many, many hours. But, uh, do you have any ask or request of my audience, uh, any experiment you'd like them to do, exercise anything? It could really be anything but, uh, any any parting thoughts before I ask you where people can find out more about you and so on. Right.


Well, if you are new to this stuff that I talk about, then I would suggest and if any if anything that I am advocating sounds crazy, like, for example, not using a car to get your groceries or not using car to get to work, then try it and think of the idea of voluntary hardship. Put this that phrase into your mind and then see where you can apply it through the day. And then you're like, hey, that looks hard.


I think I'm going to do it instead of that looks hard. I'm going to try to avoid it. And the voluntary hardship is that the gateway drug to the rest of mustache ism and thus being able to save seventy five percent of your Silicon Valley income while everyone else is still broke. So, yeah, I find some things that are hard, even if it's just skipping the elevator and and taking the stairs up to the 15th floor or whatever, just if the other people are not doing it, then that's probably a sign that it's something that you should do and and just record your results, see how much better it makes you feel, and then just keep pushing yourself a bit further.


And I would echo that. And spin it slightly differently, it's not these are complementary viewpoints, but even if people listening, those folks out there listening, if you do not want to focus on saving, even if that is not the objective, per say, voluntary hardship is a fantastic way to short circuit hedonic adaptation, where you need more and more and more almost like an opiate to satisfy your need for X. And I would highly recommend everybody read a letter.


You can find it in the public domain online. You can also find it in tools of titans in a slightly edited fashion, but on festivals and fasting. It's letter 13 from Seneca, Seneca, the younger to luckily the moral letters to looky loos on festivals and fasting. And it talks about setting aside a few days per month, let's say, to experience voluntary hardship in different ways. And it is it is such a.


Fascinating psychological trick in many respects, with all sorts of beneficial side effects, like cutting down on expenses that I think allows you to realize it is possible to recalibrate yourself to experience greater happiness and well-being without simply adding more and more and more and more and more whether that's page views, money, fancy shit you don't need or otherwise save.


I definitely want to second that notion. Pete, where can people find out more about you? And you've you've written a lot.


Where should they where should they start also? So we're going to find you on social. We're going to say hi. Where can they read your stuff and where should they start if if if they're they're just opening the doors to your writing.


I'm a big fan of old fashioned websites, so there is always Mr. Money, Mustache, dotcom, and you will see a start here button on there. And that takes you kind of to an introductory article. And then the design of the website, to the limited extent that it has a design, is just to poke around and follow links to other links. And or you can start at the beginning and read all the 400 plus articles dating back to 2012 or 2011.


And that's how most people do it. And then you can read it. If you get really into the rabbit hole, then there's a forum where, like all these users discuss their intimate problems with each other and it's like tens of thousands of members that spend all day on there. And or you can just for keeping it really light, you can just go to Twitter and look up Mr. Money Mustache and say, hey, I enjoyed the podcast.




Thank you so much for the time. I really appreciate you taking the time.


And to everybody listening, as always, you can find links to everything we discussed books and otherwise at the show notes, which is for this episode and every other episode for our Work Week dot com forward slash podcast, all spelled out for our work week on Fortyish Podcast and as always, until next time.


Thank you for listening. Hey guys, this is Tim again. Just a few more things before you take off. No. One, this is five Bullett Friday. Do you want to get a short email from me? And would you enjoy getting a short email from me every Friday if that provides a little morsel of fun before the weekend and five? Black Friday is a very short email where I share the coolest things I've found or that I've been pondering over the week that could include favorite new albums that I've discovered.


It could include gizmos and gadgets and all sorts of weird shit that I've somehow dug up into the world of the esoteric as I do. It could include favorite articles that I have read and that I've shared with my close friends, for instance. And it's very short. It's just a little tiny bite of goodness before you head off for the weekend. So if you want to receive that, check it out. Just go to four hour work week dotcom.


That's four hour work week dot com all spelled out. And just drop in your email and you will get the very next one. And if you sign up, I hope you enjoy this podcast is brought to you by the Ready States Virtual Mobility Coach. What on earth is that? Well, let me back up the first person I personally call for help with my athletic recovery or mobility training is Dr Kelly start at the state. I've known Kelly for more than a decade.


He's a good friend, but he's also mobility and movement coach for Olympic gold medalist world champions and pro athletes. You might recognize the name because Kelly was in the flower body. He was on to his titans. He also nursed and coached me through the Destroy My Body for entertainment TV show. That was the first experiment. Now Kelly has created a program called Virtual Mobility Coach. It's like carrying a virtual Kelly Starret in your pocket because most people have direct access to Kelly.


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