Mr. Money Mustache did what many dreamed of: He retired when he was 30. Instead, he’s just remarkably adept at living well below his means. The success of his eponymous blog has helped, but Mr. Money Mustache (he prefers not to give out his real name) mostly achieved his financial independence by living a lifestyle about 50% less expensive than his peers.
A former tech-industry worker, Mr. Money Mustache now spends much of his time raising his children, and taking a three-week vacation each month. If you’re thinking “that must be nice,” you’re not alone. Beware, though: As Mr. Money Mustache himself has noted, he’s the kind of guy who would — even if you gave him a million dollars today — “still be riding his old bike to the grocery store tomorrow, and bringing home the organic produce in a backpack from 1999.” In other words, his lifestyle may not be for everyone. Mashable recently spoke with Mr. Money Mustache about his unique take on personal finance. Check out some of the highlights, below:
As a kid, I used to streamline my paper route with a stopwatch to try to get the work done faster. Then I did the same hacking of the menial chores at all my minimum wage jobs as a teenager and the study material in high school. This made me realize I should go into engineering, and when I graduated, I noticed that the career world and paychecks are just the same thing: a game which you can play at all different levels of efficiency. As it turned out, it doesn’t take much tweaking to cut the length of your mandatory working career down by at least 50%, or 75%, if you do it with a little bit more gusto.
But the key is that you should only live in an expensive location if you are taking advantage of it: climbing quickly up the income ladder, or making high-powered connections that will help you out for the rest of your life. So you need to devote 10% of your time to getting ahead, so that you actually take advantage all the great people and opportunities of the big city. If you’re just going to be a generic five-figure cubicle worker, there is no need to compete for overpriced housing in NYC or D.C. — head west or south to any of the beautiful and less crowded cities the U.S. has to offer, with better weather as a side benefit.
If you develop a network of good friends who live in various nice places around the world, everyone can visit each other for amazing vacations, and yet nobody has to spend much of anything beyond the bare air-transport expenses. This sounds silly as a standalone tip for frugal vacationing, but if you live a rich life of meeting people, volunteering and working in various places, you can end up with friends scattered around, and this is a great thing.
No offense to Mac users — I love the hardware, but the software pisses me off to no end by trying to hide the technical details from me. I need to know where my sh*t is stored, and move it around between various devices quickly. None of this “iTunes,” “library,” or “gallery” nonsense — software and digital media consists of files in directories on a storage device, and nobody should pretend otherwise. The fact that Apple stuff costs much more just makes the decision even easier.
Become a producer rather than a consumer: Instead of searching for ways to be entertained, find out how entertaining it is to design and create things of your own. Creating great food saves you from depending on restaurants. Writing, music or photography make a great replacement for watching TV. Developing your own fitness and athletic ability is much more useful than being a dedicated sports fan. Building and maintaining your house, car or garden is an upgrade from paying others to do the same thing. You end up with a rich, busy and interesting life, which miraculously costs far less than your previous life was burning up. Read more…