What I think of Mr. Money Mustache

Published December 16, 2014   Posted in Having some fun

If you have been around this whole early retirement business long enough online, chances are good that you have run across a web site called Mr. Money Mustache.  This guy retired from his software development job at the ripe old age of 30 and has spent the last several years enjoying his life doing things like taking his son to the park, riding his bike and generally basking in what he terms the “badassity” of early retirement. 

Mr Money MustacheHis web site is now hugely popular with a busy forum.  I’m talking thousands of hits a month.  I believe he’s even traveled to other countries because of the popularity garnered from the web site and he claims to be generating a 6-digit income off of what he was able to build online.  Good for him, hard work deserves to be rewarded, though I’ve admittedly never been a fan of mustaches.

He has a remarkable ability to make early retirement very accessible to the average person, and published a powerful article that details the simple math behind early retirement.  Through serious investments and a solid savings plan, the math proves how possible it is to quit the damn rat race sooner rather than later.  Forget retiring in your 60s.  How about in your 40s.  Or 30s.

I have my own little blog here at ThinkSaveRetire.com (less than a month old as of the time of this writing) that chronicles my journey towards the same worthy goal of jobless badassity (a term that I usually change to “badassery”).  We both have blogs.  His has been around for 4 years and, of course, his blog is hugely popular and far more well read than mine.  So this question is natural.

What do I think of MMM?

Honestly, I love his blog.  In fact, it was his blog that finally got me off my ass earlier in the year to get my financial shit together and quit spending money on stuff that will certainly delay my drive towards capturing lifelong jobless bliss.

It seemed like with every blog post I read, the more eager I got to get the retirement train rolling down the tracks of unemployed happiness and glee.  I have never really enjoyed the grind of daily full time work, but I also never even considered the option of retiring early – outside of somehow pulling in hundreds of thousands of dollars in income every year.  In other words, a high salary.

But Mr. Money Mustache taught me about the other side of the coin – the ability to retire early based on a freaking high level of savings, which opened up an entirely new world of possibilities for me that, quite frankly, are far easier to accomplish than those based purely on high income.

MMM lives an extremely frugal lifestyle – certainly more frugal than I am living now and probably ever will live.  Apparently, he rides his bike to the grocery store and pulls his groceries home in something that may resemble a baby stroller behind his bike.  He does this to save gas.

I get the gas savings part, but honestly, I probably won’t be found peddling a bicycle back from the store with my groceries behind me in a carriage.  Nor will my wife and I ever get to the point where we only spend $80 on food every month, total.

But the principles that MMM lives by are very sound and definitely worthy of incorporation into virtually any household.  My wife and I have made dramatic changes in our lifestyle thanks in large part to the motivation that his blog gave us.  Its conversational writing style makes the blog easy to read.  Too easy.

Run through his archive page from the very beginning and readers will notice a progression from publishing shorter, but more numerous, blog postings to numbers that more closely resemble one a week.  His newer posts are longer pieces, so devote 10 minutes or so to read through them and completely absorb their content.

I’m also a fan of quality over quantity.  Of course, this doesn’t mean that his earlier shorter pieces were short on quality, but his publishing schedule left very little in the way of anticipation for the reader simply because his posts came so often.  Now, if you are a dedicated follower of his blog, I would wager that you are looking forward to his next weekly blog posting.

Even if you hate the guy, it is always interesting to hear what he has to say.  I found it interesting…so interesting that it completely changed my life, for the better.

I plan to retire by 40.

We track our net worth using Personal Capital


12 responses to “What I think of Mr. Money Mustache”

  1. Allan says:

    Wow, that was a great inspiring post Steve. I haven’t been on his blog for a while but I guess I should do my homeworks and pay him a visit! 🙂 I’ll to that tomorrow.

    Jacob Lund Fisker from Earlyretirementextreme and Jason Fieber from Dividendmantra both “changed” my life in a way too. In fact they were a lot more meaningful to me than MrMoneyMustache.

    The idea of retiring early was already there in my head… I always hated the 9@5 and the stupid rat race we live in… It’s always been and will always be a total non-sense for me to trade all my life for 3 weeks vacation per year until I die… What a society…

    They certainly comforted me in my thoughts and proved me that it was possible to retire early, to make money online, to live our dreams. I was about to give up and just follow the herd and work until 65. They “saved” me!

    Thanks to them, my plan took form and I’m now on a journey to reach financial freedom for my 45th birthday (12 years from now)… or before! If I can finally make some money online I might even consider quitting my day job sooner than later to dedicate myself fully to what I love the most – writing, reading, building furniture, investing, making my own beer and wine and so on… There are so many things I love to do in life but my job is taking away most of my time.

    I’m not there yet and I know that quitting a 100k per year job will be a tough decision to take for sure but time is an invaluable commodity since we don’t know how much time left we have. Can’t wait to be at that crossroad!

    By the way I really like your blog template and logo. It just looks great and clean.


    • Inspiration comes from so many different places out there – you just gotta know where to look. Both of us found that inspiration and, to our credit, acted upon it and now plan to retire early from the damn rat race. Working to 65 is just incredibly wasteful for anyone’s life. Like you, I was prepared to do that as well until I finally realized what true happiness out of life is all about.

      Money ain’t it.

      I quit a high level director-level job to take my current work-from-home job and absolutely love it. It’s tough to give up what you worked so long to achieve (in my case, it was “being the boss”), but once I found out what being the boss is truly all about, and how much of your life it literally sucks away from you, quitting and choosing a line of work that allows me much more freedom to do what I really want, and in a relatively stress-free environment, the decision became much, much easier.

      As always, thanks for dropping by, and good luck in your drive to retire!

  2. Dustin says:

    Good luck in your quest to retire by 40!

    I agree that his blog is very approachable and offers a unique perspective on frugality, challenging you not to view it as a sacrifice but as a great opportunity for more happiness.

    From what I’ve read though – they don’t spend $80 a month on groceries. If you look at the 2013 spending blog post – they actually spent about $580/month on groceries – which is probably a realistic amount to shoot for.

    Also – he would probably disagree with you that he rides his bike to save gas (though I’m sure that was the initial motivation) – he calls bike riding a ‘money-printing fountain of youth’, and often explains how great the health benefits are and that everyone should add a bit of challenge and ‘badassity’ into your every day life by riding your bike instead of driving.

  3. Big fan of MMM. He inspired me to even think that early retirement was possible. It’s tough living in NYC and have as high a savings rate as him, but now I sound like a “complainypants!” I don’t follow all of his suggestions as you mentioned but try to live by most of his principles.

  4. I found out about this whole thing through MMM as well.

    Ironically, I was googling novelty mustaches (i.e. consumer sucker tat!) to buy, and his was the 2nd or 3rd hit and I clicked on as was intrigued by the funny name. Thank god I did! I was instantly hooked, and discovered ERE and many other great blogs off the back of it.

    I don’t ride a bike (yet) either but that is because things are pretty much walkable around here in the UK, so I walk to get groceries instead of biking. It’s so much easier than car, find a space, etc… I don’t know why so many people over here still drive (although I don’t have kids, could be a big factor!). I often run to do errands as well as I get better excercise there as well.

    As pointed out above the main motive is not to save on gas, but to look at your life from more of a systems thinking approach, so if I can get some exercise, run an errand or get groceries, and ALSO save on gas at the same time, that is a triple win (Actually quadruple, because you are saving time ultimately as well due to not having to go to the gym to exercise or do some other form of exercise to stay in shape). It’s all about living the most efficient life you can live in terms of money, resources, and maximising happiness (you know all of this already of course but just waxing lyrical for the hell of it now… 🙂 )

    Cheers and glad you found MMM and set up your own blog as well!

  5. Brian says:

    I too read all of MMM’s articles from start to finish and loved the vast majority of them. He really takes frugal living to the extreme, I respect it but could never do it myself. You simply need a car where we live…which might not be the case in Longmont.

    I did have a problem with his Betterment article though. It is clear that Betterment paid him enough to sell out to the point that he contradicted himself. He preaches to do things yourself and avoid paying others, yet he is willing to convince his readers to pay an additional .15-.35% on top of Vanguard’s fees to have Betterment manage their assets. In addition, they don’t have control over what their money is invested in, just the ratio. What if I want to tilt more towards a certain sector or towards international?

    Sadly, I saw that post as a departure from the reliable and faithful MMM to the paid-for mouth piece that he now is. Everyone has a price, it seems Betterment has found MMM’s.

  6. I liked MMM a lot in the past but I found that lately, many of his posts are not as relatable anymore. There was a long period where he posted about building his house, installing radiant heating to his home, or when he was doing his financial retreat to Ecuador… Or even just the posts about using his bike trailer to get to the grocery store. They weren’t topics that I personally can relate to as much anymore (and I’ve been to Ecuador). I don’t really think I will ever build my own home, and I don’t plan to get a bike anytime soon. I know a lot of PF bloggers go on and on about biking but since I live in a city where everyone I know that regularly rides a bike has been hit by a car at least once…. It’s just not something that interests me.

    But he does have his moments, the math post about savings rates to reach FI was/is still a great and simple post. I understand why he writes on the topics that he does, I mean, it’s what he’s currently doing, but I think for me he’s becoming less relatable than he used to be.

    I still read his stuff, but sometimes I will either skim or sometimes even just skip it since it’s a topic that I don’t find relevant (but that’s the same with most sites).

  7. Ed says:

    I read MMM a few years ago. Stop by every so often but not as much as I do Dividend Mantra or even The conservative income investor. Reading MMM posts were always interesting to me. I agreed with a lot of what he said but other things seemed a bit tree huggerish to me. Besides the bike riding for exercise he mentions not releasing extra hydrocarbons in the air too (I’m not suggesting I don’t care about green house gases but I don’t think twice about driving). I can’t really relate to how he can do so much around the house due to his construction skills cuz I have none. But I would like to retire early. I’ll never be as frugal as MMM or even DM for that matter but I am ok with that. Now to finish checking out Think Save Retire (TSR).

  8. Ed Mills says:

    Steve, nice blog…I look forward to reading more from you! As for MMM, he is a very inspiring individual. He taught me how hardcore savings coupled with frugal living can dramatically accelerate your wealth accumulation. Most people would benefit greatly from reading his blog; there are some many unique and “quirky” money ideas that show up in his posts and on the discussion board.

    One last thought, I love the fact that MMM advocates taking charge of your financial affairs. In a world where people constantly whine about how unfair everything is, the ‘Stache shows you how you can quit the rat race in 5 to 10 years by combining hard work, planning and hyper-savings. Before reading MMM, the process of extreme early retirement was confusing and murky, but now it all seems so clear, simple and obvious.

    Good luck with your blog and hitting your life goals, Ed

    • Hey Ed,

      I agree, MMM is a wonderful resource, especially if you start back at the beginning and read through his earlier content. Much of his more recent material I believe is less approachable to the average person, but his earlier messages that strictly revolved around finances are, like you said, inspiring, and I might say empowering.

  9. It’s funny — we had been toying vaguely with the notion of early retirement for a while but didn’t really know how to proceed… until we found MMM. So he definitely helped and influenced us. But his whole “badassity” thing just rubs us the wrong way. It comes from a place of unacknowledged privilege that we find hard to swallow. So we don’t read him much anymore, even though we keep him in our blogroll because he helped us figure out HOW to actually plan for early retirement.

    • I am of a very similar position as you regarding MMM. I still read his material because I always seem to learn something from it and, quite frankly, I find his rants on cars and other typical American spending habits to be downright funny and entertaining to read. 🙂

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