Thanks, Trent

By | April 25, 2016

I mentioned recently how a drop of water told me to change my attitude, so now instead of despairing about not being as good as everyone else is at everything, I feel relieved that so many sophisticated people are working on life’s problems, thinking about how to make things better and sharing their knowledge. Think of the possibilities! Maybe humanity is not completely screwed after all.

I can’t do everything. People email me (and I love that, btw), asking me specific questions on their financial situations and I don’t usually reply, because if I did, I would feel compelled to produce an eloquent and thoughtful response and there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. Plus, I don’t want to.

C & F 2036

Getting jiggy with my beautiful college roommate at her super fun wedding in Maceio, Brazil – 11/11/11. 

But, hey! Other people exist and they take your questions and give you really insightful answers. I know this, because in 2011, right after I paid off my last student loan and right before I jiggied at a friend’s wedding in Brazil, I wrote to Trent of basically asking him what I should do with my life.

November 10, 2011

Hi Trent,

I’ve been a reader of your blog for a while now and am a big fan (I bet that’s how most people start their messages to you, huh?).  I really appreciate the way you live your life and your viewpoint on the world and greatly respect your opinion (including your vegetarianism, not just your mindset with money).

A little about me: [Cue a novel-sized paragraph about my past]

[Cue a second novel-sized paragraph about my present]

Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated.  I know that you must get a lot of reader questions each day, so I won’t take offense if I never hear back from you since I’m pretty sure your answer will be, “You have to decide this for yourself.”  Argh – free will!  I’ll still continue to read your blog and try to sort out my life.


That last line turned out to be an unintended lie, apparently. I used to read regularly, but I’m constantly culling my Feedly sources, so I admit I don’t read it or really any other finance blog anymore. Again, only so many hours in a day.

On the flip side, when I notice my reader count drop, I just imagine that person has already absorbed my lessons and is out in the world, making it better, busy running a marathon or keeping a newborn human being or kitten alive. Wahoo!

If you’ve emailed me and I haven’t answered your specific question because I didn’t want to (sorry), you can email Trent. He does a “reader mailbag” that I used to spend many hours reading. He replied to me a few days later (I’m question number 9 in the link – you can read the novel-sized paragraphs I summarized above). Here’s his answer:

How much money is “enough” depends entirely on what your plan is for after you leave this job.

For example, if you intend to essentially do nothing at all, then you had better have enough to live off of for the rest of your life.

What do you want to do after you leave? You need to sit down and do some soul-searching with that question in mind. When you have a goal in mind and a plan to reach that goal, then knowing how much you need becomes a matter of filling in the blanks.

I reread his response now and think “of course!” I even wrote about the concept of enough myself, but you really do need to keep learning stuff, hearing it over and over until it makes sense. I do anyway. The upside of this is that I am now constantly delighted by the thrill of re-discovery, even if it seems obvious.

Obvious observations I keep observing 

  1. I can change my attitude to change my world.
  2. If I ask people to do things with me, I’ll make friends.
  3. The most valuable thing money can buy is freedom from worrying about money.
  4. Gah, I’m short.
This picture is framed in my parent's house. Everytime I look at it, I'm startled. G'ah!

This picture sits in my parent’s house. Everytime I look at it, I’m startled. G’ah!

And now:

5. What you want to do with your life will dictate how much money is enough for you. Nobody can answer that question except you. Trent said it pretty succinctly in his answer, though. Thank you, Trent.

8 thoughts on “Thanks, Trent

  1. Will

    I always enjoy your posts, and can relate to your sense of humor combined with self-effacement. I grew up in the Midwest, and have come to realize it’s sort of a Midwestern thing. However, I’ve also come to learn that we need to be cool with saying we rock (full stop) sometimes too. In a world of self-promoters, sometimes it’s necessary to celebrate your achievements without worrying about sounding too proud.
    Also, please keep the amazing recipes coming 🙂
    With a few more delicious options, I might just swing back to being vegetarian!

  2. AnnW

    I hope you have a stock answer to reply to people who ask you financial questions, like I feel that I am not qualified to answer everyone, please check with Trent, Mr Money Mustache, etc. etc. If you ignore your readers, what’s the point of a blog, other than a digital diary for yourself? And you know….Karma, chi, etc.
    I don’t get the Prince thing. Can you comment? Did he affect Your life?

  3. AnnW

    And another thing. When you get back home, you have a unique opportunity. Free time and a massive election looming. Why don’t you throw yourself into the campaign for the presidential candidate of your choice. I worked a few days the last time in Colorado and it was rewarding, informative, and interesting.You have a chance to make a big difference registering voters, etc. Think about it.

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      @AnnW: I try to reply to everyone, but there are so many emails! And then people reply back and I spend way too many hours answering emails. I hoped these last two posts would help explain why I don’t write back and what they should do. 🙂 Maybe not obvious enough.

      I don’t know what you mean by the Prince reference?

      I’ve done a ton of election volunteering in the past and plan to do so this cycle too! This is why I only spend 12 hours a week writing for this blog and not much else. There are so many other things in the world to do.

      I’m sorry I missed you these last couple of weekends, but I appreciate the feedback and can’t wait to catch up with you in person! [Ann and I met at the first Chautauqua in Ecuador]

  4. Mrs. Picky Pincher

    It’s always great to find fellow bloggers who are TSD readers. 🙂 I’ve read that post and it’s so cool that Trent was referencing your situation! My husband and I are working on our frugal attitudes and our life is constantly changing. We’re worried about the “What do you do with your real life after work?” conundrum, too. It’s good to see you’re working it out for yourself and doing things you love.

  5. clivus99

    No, THANK YOU Thriftygal. You are inspiring and helping people. These 5 points are your distilled gold and they are super valuable for me. Keep posting as the change keeps happening for you.

  6. Adventures With Poopsie

    Trent’s was the very first personal finance blog I ever read. He is why I am on the path I am today. Like you, I don’t read it anymore, but it was nice to see this blast from the past. He once replied to one of my emails as well, I remember feeling like a celebrity had written to me!


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