Pete Adeney: Happiness Is About Cutting the Crap, Not Adding More Crap

Cut the Crap Pete Adeney aka Mr Money Mustach

How to find Happiness?

Pete Adeney retired in 2005. He was 30 years old and had worked less than 10 years as a software engineer. Now he lives in a beautiful house in Colorado with his wife and child and enjoys the freedom to doing whatever he pleases whenever he wants. Mostly, he spends his days hanging out with family and friends, working on handyman projects, and writing. Last year he gave away $100,000 because he already had more money than he knew what to do with. He’s happy.

How did he get so happy? By following this mantra:

“Happiness is not affected by adding positives to your life. It’s accomplished by removing things that are a strong negative.”

Cut The Crap

To put Pete’s words differently, happiness is cutting the crap out of your life, not adding more crap to it.

Here’s an example he shares in a podcast interview with Tim Ferriss, “Getting myself 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 quad copter thingies”. Maybe if he regularly had to take arial photos and hated climbing trees or using ladders to do so, then a photography drone would be a happiness-inducing purchase. But he doesn’t. So he doesn’t buy it. It’s crap.

By not falling for the trap of buying crap to fulfill needs that aren’t causing him pain already and only spending on removing existing crap from his life, Pete and his family live on only $27,000 a year. And they live a far from monkish lifestyle. They eat, play, and live well. Or, better put, happily.

Don’t Always Cut Back

One crappy part of Pete’s life was that his house—gorgeous as it may be—was a bit too small for all his tools and for his buddies to come over to play music in. He was tired of tripping over his circular saw and hated having to work around his wife and son’s schedules for his jam sessions.

So, living by his mantra, he removed those negatives by building himself a small studio in his back yard. It wasn’t cheap—some negatives are expensive to address—but the payoff was immediate, significant, and it continues reaping dividends of happiness to this day.

It was a double win, too! He’s happier for getting rid of his negatives, and his family is happier for no longer having to put up with his amateur crooning.

The Question You Need to Ask Yourself

Next time you feel the urge to add something to your life, ask yourself this: What strong negative it is removing?

If you can’t come up with an immediate answer you can be sure that it won’t make you happy. It may even do the opposite.

Cut the crap instead.

Dig Deeper

If this concept is making you think, “Holy crap!” and you want to know more, get acquainted with Pete by listening to his interview on Tim Ferriss’ podcast. Then, if you’re curious how Pete can live such a luxurious life on just $27k a year, and how you can do the same, check out his blog, It’s among the list of my all-time favorites.


  • Great summary! I did check out the podcast when WALKING home from work vs. taking the subway or car service like I always do: Try out the concept of VOLUNTARY HARDSHIP: walk stairs vs. elevator, bike to work and to the grocery store vs. taking your car, paying for gas and getting frustrated when stuck in traffic.

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