50 Comments

  1. Great read. Starting out on my FIRE journey from a humble but happy spot and really enjoying reading all the wonderful information out there. It’s so true that it all comes down to habits. At the end of the day the race is only with ourselves. Embracing those good habits allows us not compare too much with others, but know we compare well to the version of us we’d ideally aspire to be. FI & retired at that 🙂

    • Mr. Groovy

      “At the end of the day the race is only with ourselves.”

      THANK YOU, James! No truer words have ever been written.

  2. If being a part of the FIRE community has taught me anything, it is to be mindful of your habits and how they enhance or hinder your life, whether it is feelings about net worth or self worth. It is important to change the ones that hinder and continue with the ones that bring positivity to your life.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Well said, Mrs. WOW. I couldn’t agree with you more. Prior to my 40th birthday, I had a number of poor financial habits. But once I substituted those poor habits with good financial habits, nothing could stop my march to FI–not even the dreaded One Percent.

  3. ” I also drank a lot of beer and watched a lot of cartoons.”

    I think you and I have lived parallel lives, Mr. G. I carried the same terrible habits through my 20s and 30s, and not until my mid 40s did it dawn on me that things were within my control. Mrs. Grumby gets most of the credit for leading us to change our bad spending habits.

    I hear lame-ass excuses frequently about frugality and rejecting consumerism, sometimes from people close to me. Luckily I have developed thick skin and can absorb the “tighwad” comments, all while happily looking at our Personal Capital account.

    Professor Yang is a brilliant example for anyone, youngsters in particular, that focus and commitment make a difference.

    Another great post.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Love Professor Yang. Would that more of our youth had her mindset. And what is it about young men and beer and cartoons? And the Three Stooges. I definitely spent more time with Moe, Curly, and Larry than I did with my calculus and economic textbooks. Sigh.

  4. Donna

    I often wonder if I would have rejected consumerism earlier and saved more had the internet been around in my 20s or 30s instead of my 40s. If I had been exposed to these ideas just a little sooner….

    • Mr. Groovy

      Excellent point, Donna. I never really thought about that. I was never in thrall of my own intelligence, so I was fairly open to logic and sound financial ideas. If the internet had come into its own in the late 70s, the whole trajectory of my life might have been different. I like the cut of your jib, Donna. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m in the midst of writing a post that talks a lot about this subject and now I’ve got you to quote.

    The sooner people realize it’s their habits that dictate their destiny, the sooner they’ll stop destroying themselves, both financially and otherwise.

    The story about Jean Yang reminds me of our Maddie. We got more comments again this weekend about how “lucky” she is to be able to draw so well.

    Since the kid was about 3 years old she’s been perfecting her “luck” for a minimum of 4 hours a day. Not luck. Habit.

    • Mr. Groovy

      THANK YOU! I read your post today, Laurie, and I was floored. If that article isn’t Rockstar material, I don’t know what is.

  6. Great post. I would rather watch a sermon than listen to one. I agree with you 100%. Life is about action. We become what we spend our time doing.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thank you, Dave. “Life is about action. We become what we spend our time doing.” In two sentences you said it better than I did with an entire post. Bravo, my friend.

  7. Good piece. I started coding when I was twelve. It wasn’t my first choice of careers but it happened to be something I was good at (and became great). It eventually helped me retire at 43

    My kids are under ten. I hope by twelve they will move on from Minecraft and do something more productive. Then again I hear there’s money in making Minecraft videos as well.

    Recently one of my kids blurted out “that’s just a waste of money” about something most people paid for. It struck me our habits were rubbing off.

    Made me feel real good

    • Mr. Groovy

      Oh, gosh. How many parents would love to hear one of their children blurt out, “that’s a waste of money”? You’re definitely doing something right, my friend. Have you ever considered introducing your kids to robot programming with Lego Mindstorms or Arduino? It will get them started with programming and it might accelerate their transition away from Minecraft.

  8. I’m all about habits (and the post I wrote about ditching goals to focus on habits is one of my most popular posts.) But it’s definitely work to establish them too. I got to FIRE because of my habits because I certainly wasn’t doing a lot of the things people do to reach FI. My parents were great role models – and I picked up and just did what they always did after I left home. My brother did too. But my other brother didn’t… He’s just starting to see how this all works at age 54. It’s not too late – but he’ll have to work harder to get the habits to stick I think. But he also has more motivation now – which should help.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Agreed, Vicki. Habits are destiny. I’m curious why you and your one brother adopted your parents’ good habits and your other brother didn’t. Would you consider doing a post on that subject? It might be very illuminating.

  9. Steve Poling

    There’s an thing called “keystone habits” where you cultivate one good habit, then this triggers other beneficial habits. Getting to FI is a simple matter of accumulating 25x to 28x of your yearly expenses. If you can enjoy extreme frugality, or if you can make major income, or both, you’ll shorten your time-to-FI. Cultivate habits of frugality and industry such that one triggers another.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Nice, Steve. I never heard habits that cultivate other good habits as being “keystone habits.” You gave me some interesting homework for this upcoming weekend. Thank you, sir.

  10. Delightful post Mr. G! If I wrote mine out with the same points it would have come off snarky (defensive people be defensive) but you did it as succinctly as you did hit right on target.

    Good habits are tax free is my favorite take away and my least favorite (as I’m listening on a screen reader) was how intently I was nodding along…that I took and cooked the chicken instead of ground beef…so now instead of sloppy joe, Jared and I will be having sloppy chicken tonight 😿 Happy weekend!!!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Oh, no, Lily! I never want to separate a man from a well-deserved sloppy joe. I hope Jared doesn’t hate me. In all seriousness, though, I really appreciate your kind words. Made my week. Have a happy weekend as well. Cheers.

  11. Based on all your cartoon watching you should be a cartoon by now! 😉

    I think this is why psychology has always intrigued me. Our minds knows who we are at birth. Our strengths and weaknesses. Some you can build on and others you can’t. If I think back to when I was a kid, I was always saving money. Not much has changed in that regard. I also brought home a lot of strays – I still do that with animals and, on occasion, humans. I don’t know how I can parlay any of that into a skill set to be used for future me but I can’t wait to find out!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Haha! If the past is prelude, is it any wonder I materialized on this blog as purple cat? Hmmm. Your thoughts on psychology and innate traits are very interesting. I wonder what innate trait I had that allowed me to completely turnaround my financial life once I hit 40. I guess I have some thinking to do this weekend. And talking about innate traits, I love your innate kindness. Bringing home stray animals and humans is wonderful. Just be careful with the stray humans. They can do a lot more damage than just having an accident on the rug. Have a great weekend, Miss M. Cheers.

  12. Good habits are definitely useful in life – nobody would have teeth or friends without good daily grooming ones! But is it the presence of good habits or the absence of bad habits that does more for us? or is that question too much like the question what comes first the chicken or the egg? Sorry, it’s Friday and it’s been a long couple of weeks. Maybe I should
    go drink a beer and watch cartoons…er I mean go for a walk and listen to a financial podcast :).

    I did love the quotes you mentioned in your video, Derek’s “It’s not going to make you happy” is so freaking true! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the book, Mr. G!

    • Mr. Groovy

      I love it, Amy. The chicken or the egg question is very relevant. How does one acquire a habit that is not part of one’s culture? My family has produced a long line of civil servants. But for some reason, my brother decided to go the entrepreneurial route and start his own business. Where did he get the blueprint for that? I’ll have to ask him the next time we talk. The subject of habits is indeed fascinating. Thanks for stopping by, Amy, and making me think. For that you deserve some beer and cartoons. The walk and podcast can wait. Have a great weekend.

  13. Love this!

    (I also dig the comment about drinking beer and watching spongebob in their 40s. Sorry Linda but I had an impulse reaction of an eye-roll on that one. 🙂 Probably because I was never much of a spongebob person.)

    Anyway… I started programming when I was 11. I started my own tech company when I was 26. I sold it and retired early when I was 44.

    I wrote some tips of taking action and control, as part of my personal story, here: https://maximizeyourmoney.com/career/career-move-made-me-millions/

    The points you mention are spot on.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Very impressive, Brad. I knew there was a reason why I liked you. What were you programming with 30 years ago? BASIC? Fortran?

      • My first language was BASIC (then some C). I wrote a BBS program for my C64 and proceeded to run the BBS as “The Outer Reaches” just outside DC for several years.

        After college (business degree) I got back into tech learning Visual Basic, later VB.NET and some C# & PHP. I also started another BBS after college – The Outer Reaches II – running Wildcat on OS2.

        Is my geek showing? 😉

        • Mr. Groovy

          Haha! Can’t fault a man from showing his inner geek every now and then. I’ve been a programmer hobbyist for several decades now. I started out with C and moved to Visual Basic. I then dabbled in VB.NET and C#. For my job, a set up and maintained a lot of applications using Access as the front end and SQL Server as the back end. So I programmed mainly in VBA for the last decade or so. Right now I’m playing a lot with Javascript just to keep my mind engaged.

  14. Reading about people like MMM or Ms. Yang is always inspiring, and makes me wish I had been more focused at a young age. But then I remember, that’s just not me. It’s true that you can adopt new habits, however, you also have to be realistic about yourself, if you expect to achieve any lasting change. Fortunately, we have adopted new money habits and have been sticking to them for a few years now. Those new habits should, hopefully, be here to stay. I’m not so sure about the bigger goals/career/etc. – because looking back, I tend to jump around from one thing to the other. I like new challenges, but get bored pretty quickly. That’s one of the reasons why financial semi-independence is perfect: I will have the freedom to try out all sorts of new things.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Agreed. There’s no sense bemoaning things you can’t change. And I like your take on adopting new habits. Know your limitations and try one or two at a time. This way you’ll have a more realistic shot at making those new habits stick. Thanks for stopping by, Harmony. And thanks for sharing your insights. They make a lot of sense.

  15. Ah habits. It is amazing how little changes become habits over time. I used to buy lunch at work every day but a combination of not liking the cafeteria food and wanting to save $7 a day made me start bringing my lunch. Now even on days where I don’t feel like packing my lunch I still do it. The habit is engrained in me.

    Same goes for spending. I used to buy things willy nilly. If I wanted it, I bought it. Now I am more patient and think through these purchases. No fast and furious consumerism for me.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, DDD. Your awakening to the perils of consumerism sounds much like mine. It’s amazing how little you actually need to be happy.

  16. You found a lot of trash this time, unfortunately. I wish more of my fellow North Carolinians took a little more pride in and responsibility for our beautiful state.

    I find establishing better habits really difficult, maybe because I try so many at a time. It’s best if you can surround yourself with a group of supportive folks. I think that’s why my health/fitness progress trails way behind my financial progress. Jon keeps me accountable with the money (where I had fewer changes to make), but not so much with the fitness/health. I’m far more likely to be the one to push going for a walk or swim, while he tends to be the one to make me second guess a trip to the store.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Agreed, Emily. Healthy habits are a bear for many people, yours truly included. I find if I don’t do my exercise routine during my miracle morning, I always find a handy excuse to blow it off later in the day. And when it comes to eating healthy, Mrs. Groovy is my ace in the hole. She frowns on soda, candy, cake, and ice cream. And since she does the shopping, those evils aren’t frequent visitors to our house.

  17. Love it Mr Groovy and couldn’t agree more, our habits have become so ingrained that I sometimes forget how we used to live and take our progress for granted.

    The stack of lame ass excuses is sky high, but when we look around our PF blogaspehere we see people overcoming every single one of them. It’s truly amazing.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Very prescient, my friend. The stack of lame-ass excuses is indeed sky high. Sometimes I think our PF blogasphere is the only refuge of sanity left. Meh. Thanks for stopping by, AE. And have a great weekend.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Nice, Fritz. I’ll have to remember that Lombardi quote. And you are so right about being mindful when it comes to choosing your habits. If I had been just a little bit more sensible in my youth, the whole trajectory of my life would have been different. Sigh. Have a great weekend, my friend. Talk to you next week.

  18. I still drink a lot of beer and watch a lot of cartoons. But it’s not my fault – the children drive me to drink and mindlessly watch Sponge Bob! But at least in my early 40’s, I too am debt free and working on saving more than I ever did in my 30’s! It’s never too late.

    • Mr. Groovy

      LOL! What would parents do without alcohol and Sponge Bob? I love cartoons because they have a lot of humor that goes over a kid’s head. Some years back, I stumbled upon a Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon. Bullwinkle was going to college to play on the football team. The name of the college was Whatsamatta U. Their first game was against Tic Toc Tech. Hilarious stuff.

  19. Our biggest money challenge was breaking our bad habits and changing our mindset. It’s one of the reasons I hate the word diet, it makes me think of something short-term. Once you stop the diet you go back to your bad eating habits and gain weight. You need to change your eating habits for good to be successful long term.

    Sounds like there was a dog objecting to your trash collecting this week. 🙂

    • Mr. Groovy

      Haha! Yeah, that dog didn’t not appreciate my presence. Before I started filming there was an agitated rooster as well. But he calmed down for some reason. And you are so right about the precariousness of habits. It seems our bad habits never really go away. They lie dormant, and once we abandon the good habits that supplanted them, they reemerge with a vengence. Have a great weekend, my friend. I hope the Long Island summer is being kind to you.

  20. Hey Mr. Groovy- I think you are spot on with the power of habit. Habit will help to bridge the gap when motivation or drive are not pushing you towards goals or you are just having an “off” day/week/month/year.

    Now, not to say that once you have a habit, you have it for life… far from it! Habits need to be continuously cultivated and honed, but the benefit of doing so and forming good habits can last a lifetime.

    Have a great weekend!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Nailed it, Mrs. AR. Habits are better than willpower. But this doesn’t mean your work is done. Habits will wither too if not tended to. As you so eloquently put it, “[h]abits need to be continuously cultivated and honed….” Thanks for stopping by, Mrs. AR. Have a great weekend as well.

  21. I’m going to relate this to fitness/health. I always seem people going gung-ho on a monday, or Jan 1st and they set themselves up with an unrealistic program that they can never stick to, then give up entirely. The people who are fit for life make small good choices every day. Those small choices done daily over years and years are what make a person in generally good health and good physical shape. It’s just one small decision at a time.

    • Mr. Groovy

      So true, Tonya. When I worked in Uptown Charlotte, my co-worker and I would always make note of how busy a gym was when we passed it on the way to lunch. On January 2nd, every stationary bike and treadmill was filled. By the end of February, half the were filled. By the end of March, just a handful were filled. Willpower only seems to last so long. Habits are better.

  22. You are dead on with your take on habits. People look MMM and people like Jean Yang and want to attribute their success to something else. Not that they just consistently made smarter choices than we did. The book Talent is Overrated is all about how people can do just about anything if they dedicate themselves to it.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thanks, Grant. It’s amazing what good habits will produce over several years. It’s kind of like compound interest. For a long time seemingly nothing’s happening. And then–wham! The gains are unbelievable. And thanks for the book tip. I’ll add Talent is Overrated to my Kindle this weekend.

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