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A tweet in time saves nineteen thousand dollars

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The other day in the office I prepared an email for an outspoken co-worker who sits a few cubicles over. I knew that he’d have follow-up questions for me immediately, and that he wouldn’t bother emailing them — he’d just summon me by calling my name over the cubicles.

I knew he would do this the moment I clicked the send button, because he would see the subject line pop up in a little box on his screen. This sequence was so predictable, so inevitable, that it struck me that the button I was about to push on my mouse might as well have been a button on his brain. Our minds respond so immediately to signals from electronic devices that we’re almost cyborgs already. In the 1980s William Gibson wrote nightmarish books speculating about a future rife with these alarming powers, and now they’re so normal they’re boring.

This hyperconnectedness excites me at least as much as it scares me, though, because it can create amazing turns of fortune. In a similar miracle of brain-to-brain electricity, a single tweet in January caused my whole life to pivot overnight and leave me on a much more empowered course.

Somewhere out in the vast folds of the internet, a blogger I had never heard of discovered a blog I had heard of (because it was my own) and said so on Twitter. This led me to his blog, which proceeded to make my life explode with possibilities and optimism.

The blogger was Mr Money Mustache, who I mention often, and his tweet sparked a neurological renaissance inside me as my brain made new connections between the causes and effects of happiness, money and work. Those landscapes all look very different now because of that tweet. I learned money has more power to create happiness than I suspected, but only if you use it in a completely different way than the typical consumer does.

After that night, instead of buying more needless objects, I put my money in a big, unspent pile, and will now use some of that pile to buy time with which to earn a living outside the jurisdiction of The Man. I gave my notice last week, and as of October 11th I will be working for myself full time.

This means I’ll be making much less for a little while, but I don’t mind that at all, because I become immediately freed from paying the dozens of insidious costs of a steady corporate paycheck — the anti-creative cubicular environment, the dark and fearful mood that descends every Sunday evening, the treadmill of forgettable tasks that have nothing to do with my values, and the attitude of total subordination that’s required to stay employed, to name only a few.

And although they’re not strictly forbidden by living as a fifty-hour-a-week employee, certain pursuits had become a lot more difficult. Since I’m already using my evenings and weekends to run a blog, maintain a few friendships, and keep my home and clothing clean, “electives” like exercising, reading, and conducting creative experiments never find a consistent space to flourish as habits.

With only two weeks of these kinds of constraints left, I’m already feeling some of the fresh breeze from outside the tunnel, and I’m eager to air out some long-suppressed interests. In the spirit of effort-multiplying efficiency advocated by MMM and his frugal cohorts, my first order of business is to use my new-found autonomy to read a hell of a lot more books.

During my years of being an overworked spendthrift, I acquired books at a much higher rate than I actually read them. So I have a surplus of books I’ve been meaning to get around to, and I’m actually making a point of getting around to them.

As much as I loved reading when I found myself doing it, I’ve allowed long stretches of my life to go by without finishing a book. If I’m now going to be answering the question, “What do you do?” with “Writer,” then I ought to be immersing myself in examples of the craft.

For a writer, reading pays triple-time, serving simultaneously as entertainment, self-education, and the refinement of writerly sensibilities, so reading an hour or two a day is now both doable and justifiable. A book a week seems like a good benchmark. It’s ambitious given my track record, but totally achievable — even George W. Bush claimed in his memoir to have read 95 books in a year. So according to my math, if I’m half as smart as the second worst president of all time then I’m almost there. 

50 books this year

“Almost nothing in our culture encourages the private moment of reading.” ~Elizabeth Sifton

This will be the 16th official Raptitude experiment, and the first to last an entire year. I want to start the experiment immediately, but I do still have two weeks left to work in my old career, and so I’m not expecting to reach cruising speed during that time. Therefore, I’m making the goal 50 books in the next 52 weeks.

Two habits of mine have inhibited my “score” in past years. The first one is that I tend to start new books before I finish the old ones. So I end up with six books on my nightstand, each with a bookmark somewhere in it, and my attention is so diluted by then that none of them are appealing enough to continue. To remedy this, I’ll confine myself to one of the fifty books at a time, with the concession that I can simultaneously peruse a book that isn’t meant to be digested whole, like my coffee table book about Picasso, or A Course in Miracles, and this additional reading will not count towards the goal.

I digress into six books at once because of the second habit, which I think isn’t entirely a bad one: I refuse to slog through boring parts of non-fiction books, no matter how interested I am in the topic. Putting the book on indefinite hold probably isn’t the smartest response to slow parts, however. Often I want to read later chapters but don’t care about the tedious examples in the current one. So, inspired by item 4 in this post by Mark Manson, I’m giving myself permission to skip a dull, irrelevant or inane chapter so that I can get on with the book and absorb the most important parts of its content.

I have no qualms about calling a book “read” even if I’ve skipped a chapter. Most non-fiction is inflated to around 300 pages regardless of how many the subject matter actually warrants. I read to learn and enjoy, and dwelling on the dull parts only inhibits both of these goals. If you’re skeptical, read the post I linked above. Obviously fiction does not allow skipping even the occasional chapter without creating serious comprehension issues. Still, even in non-fiction some slogging will be necessary and I’m ready for that.

There will be books that I don’t like and still finish. I reserve the right to put a book down if I don’t think it’s worthwhile after the first fifty pages or so, so that I may get on with reading something I do like. These aborted reads will not count towards the total.

There will be definite sequence of books — no overlap. The list of books will be posted on this page, and I’ll leave a micro-review and rating for each once I’ve read it. I am open to suggestions, but I doubt I will buy any books for this experiment. My shelves are loaded with books I was excited to buy but which remain unread, so I will go with those first and use the library to fill the rest of my quota.

Most of them are non-fiction, quick reads of about 300 pages, but there will be a few fatter ones in there, including Steinbeck’s East of Eden and Boorstein’s The Discoverers. I will have to make up time for those by reading through some of my pop-science books more quickly.

Whatever I end up reading, this experiment will have quite a significant effect on my life. Even in spite of never quite being a truly avid reader, the reading of a book has changed my trajectory more times that I can remember. A year from now I’ll be in quite a different place, intellectually, financially, socially, and spiritually, along with decades of compound interest. That’s quite a lot to hinge on a tweet.


Photo by Alexandre Duret-Lutz

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Greg September 30, 2013 at 4:05 am

I have American friends I visit from time to time in Jerusalem. They are practicing Orthodox, open, friendly, liberal. Though not Jewish, I have lived a few of their Shabbat as they do, and found, suddenly, without any of the distractions of the outside, modern world, how much time one can have, and have read whole books in one Saturday. When you don’t have a cell phone to check, an email to send, something to look up on Wikipedia, life becomes calmer and more open to things like reading for pleasure. One of those books: Abraham Heschel’s book called “The Sabbath” (136 pages) explains this all clearly. Something to put in your pile!

David Cain September 30, 2013 at 4:15 pm

I will take a look. Every account of it I’ve seen is glowing.

TokyoJim September 30, 2013 at 4:54 am

I hope you encounter Hermann Hesse along the way.

David Cain September 30, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Good idea. I’ve read Siddhartha, what else would you recommend?

Jerry October 1, 2013 at 1:30 pm

You might start with Narcissus and Goldmund. It is a Cain and Abel story; two friends whose paths diverge. It is a spirit vs. flesh story, like the brothers in East of Eden (excellent book). Hesse brings their trajectories around to a universal truth. And then there is Magister Ludi (The Glass Bead Game). It is the story of a man coming up through the levels of education and power only to find that the essence and meaning of life as he sees it lies somewhere he didn’t expect. I have read both of these books more than once and love Hesse. Damien is also a great book – shorter, a coming of age psychological exploration. And East of Eden is near the top of my all-time list.

Gustavo September 30, 2013 at 6:36 am

I talked to The Man and, boy, he is not at all happy with your decision. He says you’re underestimating the safety and comfort provided by his system. He says those are qualities we all need in our lives.

As far as I’m concerned, I’m delighted. I’m intrigued by your selection of books and wonder if they are aligned with a goal, besides those you already mentioned above. I’m attracted by Martin Seligman and the Positive Psychology, and I highly recommend his TED talk (if you haven’t seen it already). I look forward to reading your review.

David Cain September 30, 2013 at 4:17 pm

The Man is not pleased!

BrownVagabonder September 30, 2013 at 7:03 am

I left ‘The Man’ as you call it two months ago – well 75 days to be exact (yes, I have been counting). Thenix, my partner and I are driving down the Pan-American highway through US, Mexico, Central and South America. We began in Toronto, Canada. We’ve already driven 15,000 kms. But the real part of this comment is about the time that I have now that I don’t have a full-time job. I have time to blog everyday, I do yoga every morning and a brief meditation, and I have been able to finish 15 books in the 75 days. I am enjoying the extra time fully. It is weird how we are able to fill up the extra time we have with pursuits that we actually enjoy. Nowadays, I can wake up at 7am every morning without an issue. I know that I am not going to a job that I find boring, but to a life that I am living completely.

Miss Growing Green September 30, 2013 at 9:29 am

Wow, what an appropriately cathartic experience to cleanse yourself after leaving The Man- I’ll have to check out your blog.
I agree with your comment about waking up at 7 am every morning without an issue. I’m only about a month into my own financially free life, but I wake up every day like it’s Saturday (because effectively, it is). No more Monday-morning gloom cloud hanging over my head! Instead I get to wake up to the prospect of writing about the things I care about and helping others achieve the same sense of freedom that I’ve found.

David Cain September 30, 2013 at 4:19 pm

That sounds wonderful. I have major travel plans on the backburner, but they are second to my first priority, which is to create a sustainable switch in careers. One of the greatest attractions to my new line of work is that I don’t have to be home to do it.

Lizzie September 30, 2013 at 7:37 am

David, please put ‘Cloud Atlas’ on that list, what an amazing story!! This is going to sound crazy, because I’ve never told anyone to do this before, but if you can watch the Making of videos first (I believe there are four) then watch the movie, and then read the book. The story spams centuries and doing it in that order really helps put the whole thing in perspective. You’ll LOVE it!! http://cloudatlas.warnerbros.com/

David Cain September 30, 2013 at 4:20 pm

I may give it a look. I found the movie beautiful but not exactly comprehensible. I suspect the book is easier to follow.

Glynis Jolly September 30, 2013 at 8:25 am

I just got back into reading about a month ago. I should really put myself to the challenge of reading a book every two weeks. I know that seems like a lot of time per book but I’m a slow reader with astigmatism. This means I not only read slow but can only read for short periods of time before my eyes give out on me.

Your idea of starting an experiment has sparked the idea of this challenge for myself. Thank you for inspiring me

Rusty Haley September 30, 2013 at 12:24 pm
David Cain September 30, 2013 at 4:21 pm


Fred Bement September 30, 2013 at 8:41 am

It’s good that you’re breaking free of The Man pre-kids. It’s virtually impossible after that.

One thought regarding the book a week objective – use the library. This way you’ll have a deadline to return the book, and a you’ll receive a reminder when a new book shows up so you’ll finish the book you’ve started. It’s like the retro version of NetFlix.

David Cain September 30, 2013 at 4:22 pm

You are probably right generally but there are exceptions. In any case I will probably stay pre-kids forever.

And as for the library, I am right there with you. I should have mentioned that I don’t plan to spend even a dollar on any of these books. When I run out of books I already own they will all be borrowed, either from the library or from friends.

Andrew October 23, 2013 at 1:55 am

Fred, you are not correct about the impossibility of breaking free with kids. I broke free of “The Man” (technically she was a woman in her final incarnation) on September 1, 2013, and I have three kids under 3 years old. I started my own business about 2 years ago, built it up at night and on weekends while I worked in the office. Last summer we decided that we were earning enough and had enough of a savings buffer to go independent. It has been the best thing to ever happen to me, professionally, and I’m confident that it is sustainable given our low-cost lifestyle.

This is the first time I’ve posted a comment on this blog but I felt inspired to add my story in case others parents or hopefull parents come across it and realize that they have options: all is not lost upon conception!

By the way, if you were to say that reading 50 books in a year was virtually impossible when post-kids, I’d have to agree with that…

Zoe L September 30, 2013 at 8:48 am

As a fellow avid book reader in spirit – but often not in practice – I felt uplifted reading about your new experiment. I’m a 30-year-old doctor (technically) also undertaking a sort of experiment in ‘doing what you love’. Like your blog a lot!!!

David Cain September 30, 2013 at 4:23 pm

I encourage you to do an experiment of your own, on your own terms. Keep me posted in the comment section of the experiment page if you like. We could share book recommendations.

Trish Scott September 30, 2013 at 8:53 am

Congratulations David. I’ve been rooting for you to quit that job ever since you got it. After your wonderful travels I was devastated to see you go back to work for The Man. I do hope you come to just read for the pleasure of it now that your time is more fluid rather than having to make a project of it. You may even find the “dull” bits are just the quieter or more subtle and sometimes rich moments in a narrative that only seem dull when you are pressed for time.

David Cain September 30, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Thanks Trish. Pleasure is most of the point ultimately. The dull bits I’m talking about are the redundant or tangential parts in non-fiction books, particularly the ones written by academics who are fascinated by every aspect of a topic in a way normal people never will be. In these cases there’s really no narrative and I don’t think there’s much to gain by following the author absolutely everywhere he wants to go. The choices are either stopping, slogging or skipping, and I think the last one is usually best.

Trish Scott September 30, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Ah… I get it. You are absolutely right about that!

Miss Growing Green September 30, 2013 at 9:25 am

Congratulations on taking the plunge of personal and financial freedom! I’m almost a month into my own life, free of “The Man”, and I often wonder why it took me so long to declare independence. Good luck, though you don’t need it. I have a feeling you won’t regret this decision for a minute.

David Cain September 30, 2013 at 4:34 pm

Thanks Lisa. Right after I gave my notice, I felt a strange feeling that was mostly elation but there was a bit of wavering fear in there too. Now that’s all gone. I have all the confidence in the world about my new path and I can’t get this two weeks over fast enough.

Andy September 30, 2013 at 9:27 am

Hi David… I love your experiments and this sounds like another great one.

I haven’t many books laying around unread but I do have a reading list, and boy is it getting pretty long. Time is certainly the major factor when you are stuck in that cubicle 9-5 (or 6 or 7…etc…), so I’m engaging in some of your other experiments which are slightly less time intensive in the meantime, starting with the “A place for everything” one.

I look forward to checking out your progress on the experiments hub and no doubt adding some more of the titles there to my ever expanding “to read” list :)

David Cain October 2, 2013 at 7:01 am

Hi Andy. A place for everything is probably the most rewarding experiment I’ve ever done, but I have fallen off the wagon since my job got super busy. I can’t wait to get right back to it.

humphrey September 30, 2013 at 9:38 am

To speed up your process, perhaps you might want to check up on ‘speed reading’. I’ve recently heard about it, and found what practitioners (if that’s what they’re called) of speed reading are recommending actually working for me. You might want to check up ‘spreeder, or search Kris madden speed reading.

David Cain September 30, 2013 at 4:36 pm

I would like to experiment with speed reading one day but I think I will keep it separate from this one. Even though I’m looking at a large volume of words over the next year, a major draw for me is the ritual of slowing down to sit and read.

Mary Jo Oxrieder September 30, 2013 at 10:35 am

Congratulations! Its been eighteen years for me. I count each one as precious – and I actually enjoyed the work I did when I worked for someone else. Mostly. But there is NOTHING like working for myself. Nothing! Enjoy. (I know you will and look forward to the outcomes of your creative time.)

David Cain September 30, 2013 at 4:37 pm

I will, thanks!

Samantha September 30, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Awesome experiment. Might I suggest goodreads.com ?

That way you could make a list of the books you want to read, even set a goal for how many books you want to read, mark the books as “read” or “currently reading”, share your reviews on Facebook, etc.

Its an amazing website and I think it would benefit this experiment greatly. As well as serve as a personal tracking device in the future for books you’ve read or want to read.

David Cain October 2, 2013 at 7:02 am

I have started a goodreads account and will be using to find suggestions

Rowan October 12, 2013 at 8:14 am

Is it alright if I add you on goodreads? That way I can read some of the books that you’ve read from your goodreads book list.

Rowan October 12, 2013 at 8:16 am

Is it alright if I add you on goodreads? That way I can read some of the books that you’ve read from your goodreads book list. I would suggest Yukio Mishima. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yukio_Mishima

David Cain October 12, 2013 at 9:13 am

Sure, although I haven’t really done anything with my account and I don’t know my way around it yet. I don’t even think I remember my user name. When I get into it I will post it here.

steph in berkeley September 30, 2013 at 12:38 pm

CONGRATULATIONS! This is crazy exciting. Couldn’t be happier for you. And your plan with the books sounds extremely well thought out down to the skipping the crap and using the library for fresh material. Go YOU!

David Cain October 2, 2013 at 7:03 am

Thanks Steph!

LL3482 September 30, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Congratulations David! I’ve been meaning to thank you for introducing me to Mr. Money Mustache a few months back. He has changed my whole world view as well. I was about to quit a high paying job due to complete burnout, but thanks to MMM, I’ve reevaluated everything and now I realize I’m only about 3 years from complete financial independence. I now take more time off and have relaxed into my final three years. Knowing there is light at the end of the tunnel has made being at work much more tolerable. In the short time since finding MMM, I have fired my cleaning service, bought a Prius, cut out cable, cut out mindless restaurant eating, started using the library, stopped coloring my hair, and paid the balance of my mortgage off with money sitting in a low interest savings account. Optimism abounds! Thank you again!

On a different note, have you ever considered only putting the first paragraph or so of your post and a link to the rest of the article that takes us to your website into the email that we get weekly? I’m certainly not an expert, but it would increase your website traffic and I wouldn’t mind clicking on the link to read the article.

Congratulations again on your self-employment!

David Cain October 2, 2013 at 7:07 am

Thanks LL3482. I’m glad to know I helped you find MMM and rearrange your life. It sure made a huge difference to mine in a short time.

As for the partial feeds, I don’t want to do that. Not many bloggers do it any more. It comes off as a bit manipulative and I’m always turned off when bloggers do that. I’m more interested in having people like and share the content over the long term than bumping up the traffic numbers.

Dragline September 30, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Congrats on your new freedom.

Coincidentally, we just started (in the last three days) a small and highly informal book club over at the Early Retirement Extreme forums to read non-fiction. We will take turns picking the book and leading the discussion. The first one chosen is “Flourish” by Martin Seligman if you (or anyone else here) is interested. It wasn’t my choice, but I just started reading it and it sounds a lot like some of the things you write.

David Cain October 2, 2013 at 7:08 am

That sounds good. I’ve never been in a book club but would like to one day. I think I’ll wait until after the experiment though — to meet my quota I will need to be the one choosing the books.

Rose September 30, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Just commenting to second the suggestion you use Goodreads. It is a great site and has a feature for tracking your progress towards a reading goal.

May I also suggest audiobooks if you don’t currently listen to them? I find them a great way to read more while doing mundane things like chores or driving.

Elliott September 30, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Great idea. Curious: do you subvocalize now? If you don’t now and broke the habit, any tips on how to do that? I’ve tried myself and although I have found myself reading three times faster, it becomes very hard during college, when there really are things that you can’t risk not understanding and thus don’t subvocalizing…slowly losing the new habit.

Karen J October 1, 2013 at 7:47 pm

@Elliott – “subvocalize”? I’m guessing that’s sort of “moving your lips”, even if it’s not (or not quite) “out-loud”? And is it generally a *good thing* or a *bad thing* to do?
Thanks – Karen – who will pay far more attention to the question for a while, no matter your answer!

Renee s September 30, 2013 at 3:46 pm

I just started reading your blog and i’ve been reading MMM for awhile–i was so happy to read this post! congratulations on taking the plunge–i am very into finances and want to know all of the numbers, of course, but I dont think this blog is intended for that. ;) I am excited to read more about your journey and to also catch up on what I’ve missed! Please keep us posted about your freedom :) I am 25 and my goal is to retire in 8 years..so I will live vicariously though you! haha

Matthew Anderson September 30, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Congratulations David!

I found your blog through MMM, and am very thankful I did.

My freedom from The Man started before I encountered either of your blogs, but they’ve definitely helped my trajectory since my discovery. If your experience is anything like mine, you’ll wonder why you didn’t make this move long ago. MMM’s philosophies are also very applicable for people who don’t necessarily need to be financially independent as much as “The Man” independent and want to work for themselves. Living frugally has enabled me to structure my days and my work how I want. It has basically eliminated the need for vacations and large expenditures on the weekends because every day is what I want it to be.

Best of luck to you. I’m looking forward to watching the blog through your journey!


Paul Filipowski September 30, 2013 at 5:57 pm

Congratulations David!

Having not written before, I wanted to thank You for sharing with us over the years. Your efforts to become a better human and to lay them all out for us to see is remarkable. You let us see the success and failure regardless of the outcome. A mentor once told me that He was getting way more out of our time together than I was. A high salute to you young man. May peace be with you always.

Best regards,

Anna September 30, 2013 at 6:44 pm

You should also check out anything by Richard Brautigan. A fun, favorite of mine. :)

Eugenio Perea September 30, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Congratulations on your great decision.

To start off your project, I would strongly suggest that Book Number One be ‘How to Read a Book: The Classical Guide to Intelligent Reading’ by Mortimer J. Adler.

It describes the four levels of reading and will help you approach those boring non-fiction passages and books with a clearer methodology and purpose.

Shane Parrish describes the book very well here: http://www.farnamstreetblog.com/2013/06/the-art-of-reading-how-to-read-a-book/



Max Weismann October 3, 2013 at 10:14 am


We are a not-for-profit educational organization founded by Mortimer Adler and we have recently made an exciting discovery—three years after writing the wonderfully expanded third edition of How to Read a Book, Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren made a series of thirteen 14-minute videos—lively discussing the art of reading. The videos were produced by Encyclopaedia Britannica. For reasons unknown, sometime after their original publication, these videos were lost.

Three hours with Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren, lively discussing the art of reading, on one DVD. A must for all readers, libraries and classroom teaching the art of reading.

I cannot exaggerate how instructive these programs are—we are so sure that you will agree, if you are not completely satisfied, we will refund your donation.

Please go here to see a clip and learn more:


ISBN: 978-1-61535-311-8

Thank you,

Max Weismann, Co-founder with Dr. Adler

arielle September 30, 2013 at 7:28 pm

David! I’m excited to join you on your challenge. I love to read but I tend to fill my time with wasteful habits and am eager to replace them with something more productive. Also, I’ve always wanted to be an eloquent speaker and this seems like a good place to start, building vocabulary and learning to think creatively. I don’t see any harm that can come from this experiment.

Amanda September 30, 2013 at 7:47 pm

I LOVE Steinbeck! Congratulations and best of luck!

Daryl Gerke September 30, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Congratulations on making your jump to freedom! Just surpassed 25 years in business for myself — no regrets whatever. Well, maybe one — should have jumped sooner.

Also a fan of Mr. Money Mustache, even though I practiced his frugal advice for many years. (It help set me free.) Still, have picked up some good ideas — you can teach an old dog new tricks.

My sincere best wishes to you, and welcome to the independent life!

James B September 30, 2013 at 9:55 pm

So, David, are you going to continue working as an independent contractor in the field that you were employed in, or are you going to pursue a different career path?

Randy Hordo October 1, 2013 at 12:54 am

David, I know pride is a sin to some, but I am so proud of you, and I know someone else, if he could be here with us, who would be as well.
You have a special talent to connect….to connect everyday experiences, of everyday people….with broader principles of life and humanity. We will all benefit from your sabbatical from what you describe as The Man…may you never feel the bonds of such servitude again…. I hope that you are able to awake each morning, excited with the prospect of another fresh opportunity to create and communicate , happy to be doing each day what you select to do that day to add to the human experience of others and share your gift, your talent, to enhance their lives…this is a weighty resposibility, but one you are more than capabable of handling. All my best, Randy

David Cain October 2, 2013 at 7:20 am

Randy! Thank you so much. This is what I’m meant to be doing and I know that with total clarity now. This allows me to be closer to the people who appreciate and understand what I’m doing and I never want to let something like an unsuitable career get in the way again. Very good to hear from you and I hope you are well.

BeatTheSeasons October 1, 2013 at 7:06 am

Well done for escaping the tyranny of work. And good luck! See you there one day.

Kenneth October 1, 2013 at 8:44 am

I loved your “The Man” post. I love MMM. You’ve put them together, and have escaped The Man. Way to go! It sounds like you’ve saved $19,000. At an estimated bare bones $1,500/mo expenses for a single person living the Mustachian lifestyle, you’ve bought 12 months or so of freedom to make this work. I have every confidence you will be able to make it work. If not, The Man is always waiting and will welcome you back. So win win either way. Good luck!

Lynn October 1, 2013 at 9:47 am

I’ve been following your blog for a while, although I don’t often comment, and I’m so happy for you! I like the idea of reading as being a good investment of time for a writer, and glad you will be able to spend more time on it!

Duff October 1, 2013 at 10:54 am

David, I’ve only been following your blog for a short time and was surprised that you hadn’t already made this choice! (I think it’s inevitable that an individual’s quest for their own Truth will lead to testing the limits of materialism and self-reliance.) It was great to follow you in your quest while you were still a pawn of the Man, as most of us are, and reminding us that we alone can control our attitudes to our surroundings.
While I think your observations effectively lead us to question the stresses inherent in ‘what is’, I sometimes think that becomes the end game for some. For me, the lack of a negative is not, in itself, a positive; a joyful spirit energetically engaged in life is not necessarily the natural outcome of intellectual understanding. At some point in time, I think the intellectual quest must be deemed successful at pointing us in a new direction, whereupon the nature of our quest must become quite different.
I wish you continued energy in your quest and look forward to hearing more from you.

Chad October 1, 2013 at 11:29 am

I tried the 50 books in a year a couple of years ago. It was fun and a bit of a challenge as I also homeschool the boys. I haven’t gotten to 50 since that year, but I read a lot more than I had for several years.

One thing I took from that experiment is that I now keep a jounral of the books I have read.

After I finish a book, I write the title and arthor down and then write a little bit about the book. Somebooks have very little, usually because I didn’t care for the book. Others have pages written. I find this helps me retain more information from the books I read. I also enjoye going back over this journal. Helps remind me when I discover new writters too. I recently bought my son a journal so he can write down the books that he has read.

Randy H October 1, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Hey David…just crossed your path for the first time today! Really enjoying your work so far but have A LOT of catching up to do! Good luck in your endeavors!

Amith Ganesan October 1, 2013 at 4:38 pm

Heh … perhaps if the US got a single payer healthcare system (current state conundrum notwithstanding), we may see more departures from The Man :-) All the best and looking forward to more of your great writing.

And about being pre-Kid forever, I am pretty sure you will experience fatherhood in the near future (<5 years). You would have run out of soul to search!

Dan October 2, 2013 at 12:36 am

Good on ya David! You have an extraordinary talent for writing, and I’m excited to see where your life leads from here. I’ve been free of the man myself for 5 years now, and am currently traveling around New Zealand in a van. Headed to Milford Sound tomorrow, which I know you can appreciate. I just wish I were here at a time of year I could walk the Track like you did. Best of luck to you, I look forward to following your journey.

Ioana October 2, 2013 at 2:42 am

I wish you the best of luck in this experiment, I think it really has the potential to be a life-changing and truly enriching one. So enjoy it!
But I have a small curiosity: where will the money come from? Can this be applied by us average people?:)

Tom Southern October 2, 2013 at 4:31 am

Hey David, I think I work in your office and get shouted out at by that guy too. Here’s wishing you well in your new venture as a shouted at free person.

Reading is one of those things I know I should do, and so do, but with long periods of just thinking about it. Your shelves on several books on the go illustrated with assorted bookmarks sounds a little like mine. My reading stretches from actually reading to listening to audiobooks. At the moment I’ve got 4 books on the go. They’re sitting on their various hard surfaces reminding me that I’ve still to read a bit more of them.

50 books! I feel like I’ve mastered the answer to what is the sound of one hand clapping if I read 5.

Rajesh October 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Hi David, I have been following your blog for the last 6 months or so and I feel most of my thoughts resonate with yours.

I was fired by ‘the Man’ 3 months ago and I feel I never felt so relaxed in these 3 months. I got back to playing tennis regularly, one of my passions. I started doing Tibetan yoga and Zen meditation. Both of these practices have helped me to more spiritual or reaching out to my intuition. Evidently, I have started self-exploration, which I am realizing is so natural to me. However, the exploration has just begun and I have long way to go. I will soon go back ‘the Man’ but being fully aware of his givings.

All the best for your self-exploration with books. I need to increase by book-reading capacity and thanks for inspiring me further. I do not want to impose lot of book recommendations, but if you are interested in unconventional views on science and human consciousness, I would recommend the book titled ‘souls of distortion awakening’. Cheers.


John October 2, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Congratulations on leaving the rat race! I also tend to have the issue of not finishing a book and then starting up another one. I have fixed this problem by training myself to read tiny portions of one said book everyday. Even if it’s less than a chapter, it breaks it up into more digestible portions. I’ve found that it keeps me more interested in the topics presented because I don’t have to comprehend tons of information. Just my $.02. Good luck!

Ragnar October 2, 2013 at 4:31 pm

When I first visited mustache’s blog, I was put off by the name. I thought that it was the braggadocious stories of some investor or something. But as I read his introduction, and actually realized the message he’s trying to get across, I felt embarrassed.

I’m still not completely into the frugal mindset, but a year of living abroad on a skinny scholarship definitely helped me get a head start over most people! I just need to get a bit more creative in my savings. I will probably leave Norway because of the uncomfortably high living expenses, and because I am unlikely to land a high paying job, not that I’m interested in one anyway!

Brenden October 2, 2013 at 6:41 pm

Congratulations and best of luck with your transition. I look forward to following your journey on this blog. I have the same problem with books – having more books than time. This is an inspiring post and I hope to be in your position in a few years.

Keone October 3, 2013 at 5:06 am

If you are looking for novel fun (no pun intended) read than check out the works of Tom Robbins, master of the colorful metaphor and one of the most cerebral yet whimsical novelists ever. “Another Roadside Attraction” is an all time favorite…

Krista October 4, 2013 at 1:14 pm

This sounds great!!! I think I will give it a try as well, although I’ll need more than a week per book because of working :) It is so great to hear about other people who are more interested in being happy than making more money. Although I have always believed this, it is still more encouraging every time I hear of another person who is on the same wavelength. AWESOME!!! :D

Ieian October 6, 2013 at 6:26 pm

Well glad to hear your gonna write a book.
Please be careful. I relate to your blog quite accutely.
I got made redundant a couple of months ago, and was really quite pleased.
As you have described, the Sunday dread, the monotony of the regular job, the narrow predictable horizon. I pretty much loathed my job, but stuck at it for the sake of my family. I was planning a big trip upto the arctic circle, touring in our camper van and canoeing. Then on return resigning and getting on with my life. FREEDOM. Reading that stack of books, posting on my blog, and clearing out and restoring my mums house.
Instead there has been a slide into in action, depression and stress as the money dwindles away. It is not the the freedom and joy I was anticipating.
The outside world has still found a way to blinker the horizon and stifle my creativity.
I plod on, trying to empty my Mums house and establish a family home – Then will I be free.
Good luck – Live life, use those senses experience life. Don’t just stick your head in a book and read about someone elses. Have an adventure while your about. Something to look back on when you are old.

Giddings Plaza FI October 6, 2013 at 6:39 pm

Congrats on your sabbatical! I am 11 months and 6 days into mine, and stepping out of the fear and weird work of a corporation and into doing real things with your days will astound and delight you! Good luck with your reading, and any projects you do. I’ve given up my car, started a blog, am launching a second web site, ran a half marathon, did a complete and wickedly hard relandscaping of my yard…and that’s just the half of it. Cheers to you! (imagine me lifting a glass of wine to you)

Gavriel October 7, 2013 at 3:19 am

I can definitely relate to having a ton of half read books on the shelf, all with their bookmarks. Allowing yourself to skip the uninteresting or boring bits and chapters is a really good idea and I think I will allow myself to do the same from now on. Good reading! :)

Caroline Devitt October 7, 2013 at 11:14 am

David, I discovered MMM a few weeks ago through Rapttude, and it’s made my life explode with possibilities and optimism, too (even though I’m already self-employed)! Thank you very much for linking to his blog, and best of luck with your new projects.

Lewis October 8, 2013 at 6:11 pm


I just found your website via MMM and love it.
Great choice on escaping the office. My wife and I are quitting May 2 to begin a bike trip from Canada to S Am or wherever we feel like for however long we feel like.
I am certainly tempted to go the MMM route and work a few more years and totally retire, but I really can’t take the chance that we’ll still be willing and able to do the ride we want.

aletheia33 October 10, 2013 at 5:57 am

great website and thanks for all your good work. don’t know how old you are, but are you still thinking you may want to raise children some day, or have you ruled it out? if the latter, suggest you keep this in mind when deciding how to spend your $$$ and live on as little as possible. kids truly need a lot of things that you need major $$$ for, and having them is for most people the most exciting and rewarding activity of their whole life. kids do not need a lot of consumer stuff any more than their parents do, but they need certain conditions to thrive. and they will have to learn how to make their way somehow in a culture that doesn’t reward difference much. just want to caution you, independent living is often just a young man’s game, and it may be worth taking a look now at your sense of your deepest inclination toward or not toward fatherhood and family life. i chose freedom over child and have lived to regret it. that’s not a tragedy, but still a wonderful fulfillment i feel i missed. raising a family is one of our most precious resources and relationships, many believe our most precious, and is fraught with challenges and true ordeals, especially relating to $$$ and how it affects relationships–in very human, inevitable ways. and then there’s the love, that makes it all so totally worthwhile.

aletheia33 October 10, 2013 at 8:05 am

correction to previous comment (sorry): ”latter” in the third sentence should be ”former”.

Ingrid November 17, 2013 at 6:50 am


I’m also a big fan of Mr. Money Mustache, and discovered your blog through his. Thank you for providing so many well-written and thought-provoking articles.

Since you are interested in evolutionary biology and psychology, I’m wondering whether you have heard of — or read — John Durant’s outstanding new book, “The Paleo Manifesto”? I believe you will love it, and it may be another of those books that sends you into a new direction as you re-design your life. I believe that MMM would love the book as well, though he is already practicing a number of the principles the book outlines.

Keep up the excellent work you are doing!

Best regards,


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