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Meet Mr Money Mustache who retired at the age 30


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The 1990s version of this is the Tightwad Gazette, a newsletter that was compiled into a book (looks like a phonebook). Basically the bible of frugal living. Some parts are a bit dated, but it's very readable, and it does help reinforce the right mindset to get expenses down if that's what you want/need to do.

 

http://www.amazon.ca/Complete-Tightwad-Gazette-Amy-Dacyczyn/dp/0375752250/

 

Also, the original "here's how to retire young with minimal expenses" book that inspired many:

 

http://www.amazon.ca/Your-Money-Life-Transforming-Relationship/dp/0143115766/

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This NewYorker piece provides interesting perspective on the guy. I understand his thought process around frugality and it resonates with me.  I was like that when I was younger. But to me the point of money is to trade it in for life enjoyment. To me frugality is a means to an end.... the article says he makes $400K a year from his blog now and yet he doesn't seem willing to make any changes or compromises in any way. That personality seems a bit on the obsessive side.  If his wife is completely aligned with those beliefs and practices, then great!  Otherwise seems like it wouldn't be much fun to share a house with him.  Maybe it is partly for show now to maintain the personality cult that has developed around him from the blog.

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This NewYorker piece provides interesting perspective on the guy. I understand his thought process around frugality and it resonates with me.  I was like that when I was younger. But to me the point of money is to trade it in for life enjoyment. To me frugality is a means to an end.... the article says he makes $400K a year from his blog now and yet he doesn't seem willing to make any changes or compromises in any way. That personality seems a bit on the obsessive side.  If his wife is completely aligned with those beliefs and practices, then great!  Otherwise seems like it wouldn't be much fun to share a house with him.  Maybe it is partly for show now to maintain the personality cult that has developed around him from the blog.

 

+1.

 

He just strikes me as annoying at this point.

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This NewYorker piece provides interesting perspective on the guy. I understand his thought process around frugality and it resonates with me.  I was like that when I was younger. But to me the point of money is to trade it in for life enjoyment. To me frugality is a means to an end.... the article says he makes $400K a year from his blog now and yet he doesn't seem willing to make any changes or compromises in any way. That personality seems a bit on the obsessive side.  If his wife is completely aligned with those beliefs and practices, then great!  Otherwise seems like it wouldn't be much fun to share a house with him.  Maybe it is partly for show now to maintain the personality cult that has developed around him from the blog.

 

+1.

 

He just strikes me as annoying at this point.

 

His wife said: “Your relentless optimizations are a drain on my life energy.”

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This NewYorker piece provides interesting perspective on the guy. I understand his thought process around frugality and it resonates with me.  I was like that when I was younger. But to me the point of money is to trade it in for life enjoyment. To me frugality is a means to an end.... the article says he makes $400K a year from his blog now and yet he doesn't seem willing to make any changes or compromises in any way. That personality seems a bit on the obsessive side.  If his wife is completely aligned with those beliefs and practices, then great!  Otherwise seems like it wouldn't be much fun to share a house with him.  Maybe it is partly for show now to maintain the personality cult that has developed around him from the blog.

 

If you read his stuff, you'll find out that he does exactly what he wants to do (works only on what interests him, takes vacations and travels for as long as he wants, designed his own house to his specifications, spends tons of time with his kid, has lots of time to socialize with his friends, etc). He doesn't feel like spending more would make him happier, so he doesn't. I think the idea of donating that money to charity probably makes him happier than spending it, kind of like Buffett in miniature.

 

If you optimize for happiness and freedom, then spending more isn't necessarily a way to get there. For some people, maybe, but not everyone. For many, spending more means less freedom and more stress, not more happiness.

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His wife said: “Your relentless optimizations are a drain on my life energy.”

 

Actually, that's just something he imagined.

 

Here's the full sentence:

 

He imagines that his wife’s inner voice whispers, “Your relentless optimizations are a drain on my life energy.”

 

His wife seems pretty on board. She has written posts on the blog, actually, and did the same thing he did to retire early from the start.

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His wife said: “Your relentless optimizations are a drain on my life energy.”

 

Actually, that's just something he imagined.

 

Here's the full sentence:

 

He imagines that his wife’s inner voice whispers, “Your relentless optimizations are a drain on my life energy.”

 

His wife seems pretty on board. She has written posts on the blog, actually, and did the same thing he did to retire early from the start.

 

Yeah, she is on board.  She has said on the blog that he is hilarious and fun to live with.  I have read much of his blog.  Its a worthwhile read.  What he is esposing is sensible living, like my older parents and Grandparents have/had. 

 

Its not a new message.  Why work so hard to buy things for people who dont need them and dont really want them?  We go through this every birthday with my kids.  They dont need or really want anything, and aunts, and gps want to know what to get them.  Taking them for the day or overnight is the greatest thing you can do for them (and us).

 

 

edit: and I like him because he grew up very near me.

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This NewYorker piece provides interesting perspective on the guy. I understand his thought process around frugality and it resonates with me.  I was like that when I was younger. But to me the point of money is to trade it in for life enjoyment. To me frugality is a means to an end.... the article says he makes $400K a year from his blog now and yet he doesn't seem willing to make any changes or compromises in any way. That personality seems a bit on the obsessive side.  If his wife is completely aligned with those beliefs and practices, then great!  Otherwise seems like it wouldn't be much fun to share a house with him.  Maybe it is partly for show now to maintain the personality cult that has developed around him from the blog.

 

If you read his stuff, you'll find out that he does exactly what he wants to do (works only on what interests him, takes vacations and travels for as long as he wants, designed his own house to his specifications, spends tons of time with his kid, has lots of time to socialize with his friends, etc). He doesn't feel like spending more would make him happier, so he doesn't. I think the idea of donating that money to charity probably makes him happier than spending it, kind of like Buffett in miniature.

 

If you optimize for happiness and freedom, then spending more isn't necessarily a way to get there. For some people, maybe, but not everyone. For many, spending more means less freedom and more stress, not more happiness.

 

Liberty,

I'm sure you are right.  I think I just tweaked off the anecdote of his wife telling him they should buy a mop instead of scrubbing the floor on hands and knees with a sponge. And he said it would just take up space. But to be fair to MrMM, he was the one cleaning the floor in the anecdote.

 

Journalists have a way of twisting/portraying details to make them fit the story they want to tell. Your words tend to be stitched together out of context to make sound bites. I learned that lesson when I was misquoted in the local paper at age 15.  I vowed to never give comment/interviews to reporters again :)

 

I will take a look at his blog post of corrections to the article.

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Excellent blog I agree.  There is a lot more there than being cheap.  It is really a practical philosophy blog as well. 

His brain works right and he isn't the typical writer who seems to pander to excuses and self pity.

 

Agreed with this. There are two mindsets - be cheap or maximize your income. Sometimes adding to your income is incredibly difficult. Sometimes being cheap is. The point is both options are available to you and you get to choose the easiest/best for you.

 

I like Ramit Sethi too, as he looks towards the maximizing income route. Working on getting that 10% raise at work is going to do far more for your bottom line, especially considering the compounding over time, than does cutting out Starbucks coffee.

 

his website is www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com

 

 

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I fully agree that it is good to be frugal.

 

However, at some point it crosses the line.

 

In my personal life, I know some people who are extremely cheap.

 

For example, one of them was invited to an incredible restaurant in Downtown Detroit.  He lives about 8 miles away.  The event was a family/friends gathering and it was FREE.  All he had to do was show up.  He didn't want to do it because it would cost him gas to get there.  Maybe 1 gallon.  So while he saved $2.50, he missed an incredible meal, friendship and has alienated some people.  He won't be offered the invitation in the future. 

 

This same fellow in the past has invited people to dinner at a restaurant.  They show up, and he just gets water to drink and will then he eats at his house, with his guests in tow.  This makes some of his friends uncomfortable.

 

This guy is certainly not rich, but he does have a decent job and certainly can afford gas and can afford to eat out from time to time with friends.

 

I have another acquaintance who is worth many millions.  He frequently won't flush the toilets to save water.  He also frequently eats plain oatmeal for lunch/dinner to save money.  He also rarely turns on the air conditioning and will sit sweating in his house.  He RARELY has anybody coming over to visit...

 

In another time, these people would have been called misers.

 

So these guys are so obsessed with saving pennies that it is cutting into their interactions/relationships with others.

 

What is the point of having money/capital if you deprive yourself of things and never use it?

 

 

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I fully agree that it is good to be frugal.

 

However, at some point it crosses the line.

 

In my personal life, I know some people who are extremely cheap.

 

For example, one of them was invited to an incredible restaurant in Downtown Detroit.  He lives about 8 miles away.  The event was a family/friends gathering and it was FREE.  All he had to do was show up.  He didn't want to do it because it would cost him gas to get there.  Maybe 1 gallon.  So while he saved $2.50, he missed an incredible meal, friendship and has alienated some people.  He won't be offered the invitation in the future. 

 

This same fellow in the past has invited people to dinner at a restaurant.  They show up, and he just gets water to drink and will then he eats at his house, with his guests in tow.  This makes some of his friends uncomfortable.

 

This guy is certainly not rich, but he does have a decent job and certainly can afford gas and can afford to eat out from time to time with friends.

 

I have another acquaintance who is worth many millions.  He frequently won't flush the toilets to save water.  He also frequently eats plain oatmeal for lunch/dinner to save money.  He also rarely turns on the air conditioning and will sit sweating in his house.  He RARELY has anybody coming over to visit...

 

In another time, these people would have been called misers.

 

So these guys are so obsessed with saving pennies that it is cutting into their interactions/relationships with others.

 

What is the point of having money/capital if you deprive yourself of things and never use it?

 

Yes, that's ridiculous.  I'm cheap but not that cheap.

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I think that for anyone to claim that they retired at age 30 but earns $400k or whatever amount he does from running a blog or sponsorship to be an oxymoron.  Getting that kind of sponsorship money is not retiring, it's a full time job.  Producing all that content is not NOT WORKING.  Granting, it can be a very enjoyable job.

 

I think the messages would seem a lot more genuine if he was living solely off his savings and investments.  Some of the wording/phrasing sounds a bit too "Amway" which I got involved with when I was 12 years old.  At least I learned the power of "selling a dream" at a very young age. 

 

This is not to say that his messages isn't helpful.  It's kind of like Buffet saying that he ought to pay more taxes, but then he takes advantage of every tax advantage he can.

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I get what you're saying.  Some would say he's really "financially independent" as opposed to retired, because he generates passive income that far outstrips his annual spending, even backing out the $400K (which is a recent phenomenon, btw).  He could probably never post new content again and would still generate substantial income for years to come. 

 

But I think most would say he retired early from his career to go manage his personal investments (mostly real estate at the time) and then turned a hobby/evangelism (about stoicism and limiting consumption and the attendant impact on the environment disguised as a personal finance blog) into a huge business on accident.  He really doesn't even post all that often now, maybe once every month or two.

 

 

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I'll ask lazy question (i.e. I did not search on MMM blog): How does he deal with medical costs? I am talking US medical costs, not Canadian/UK/other-somewhat-socialist-countries. Isn't the costs something like ~$10K a year per person for unemployed? OK, so you can non-insure while you are young and healthy, but what you gonna do if when you are old and need long term care which is something like $30-60K a year?

 

It's a serious question, because IMO this is the biggest hurdle to retire in US. Theoretically, assuming no medical costs, I could retire tomorrow. With medical costs, you may need something like $1M in current dollars for 30+ years of potentially high medical bills. Yeah, at some point you get Medicare, but that doesn't cover everything AFAIK. (Dirty calc: $500K * 3% = 15K per year for medical, I am taking 3% to avoid drawdowns, any good quality long term care will be way above 15K a year, so $1M instead of 500k?).

 

Any comments, insights, ideas welcome. I already know the suggestion to move to a country with lower medical costs.  8)

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I'll ask lazy question (i.e. I did not search on MMM blog): How does he deal with medical costs? I am talking US medical costs, not Canadian/UK/other-somewhat-socialist-countries. Isn't the costs something like ~$10K a year per person for unemployed? OK, so you can non-insure while you are young and healthy, but what you gonna do if when you are old and need long term care which is something like $30-60K a year?

 

It's a serious question, because IMO this is the biggest hurdle to retire in US. Theoretically, assuming no medical costs, I could retire tomorrow. With medical costs, you may need something like $1M in current dollars for 30+ years of potentially high medical bills. Yeah, at some point you get Medicare, but that doesn't cover everything AFAIK. (Dirty calc: $500K * 3% = 15K per year for medical, I am taking 3% to avoid drawdowns, any good quality long term care will be way above 15K a year, so $1M instead of 500k?).

 

Any comments, insights, ideas welcome. I already know the suggestion to move to a country with lower medical costs.  8)

 

This is what I've always wondered as well.  Everytime I've seen it discussed there is a lot of hand waving with things like "stay healthy" and "eat right" as if those things will prevent my boys from jumping off their bunk beds and ending up in the ER.

 

The retire early thing assumes a person who is healthy and never gets sick.  It never assumes an actual family as if people with kids might want to retire one day, or that not everyone is 100% healthy all the time.

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