Are you a disillusioned Mustachian?
In last week’s article, I wrote about my tumultuous journey into the world of Mr. Money Mustache. I struggled to be 100% Mustachian, and ended up unhappy, disillusioned, and full of frustration.
Since then, I’ve learned to embrace being ‘mostly’ Mustachian. We’ve found ways to work around our pricier lifestyle choices… and still reach FI before 65!
Just to be clear: I wrote this article because I actually do love Mustachianism. My intention isn’t to bash Mr. Money Mustache and his fake religion.
Instead, I want to encourage those who are teetering on the edge to try being a little more like MMM. I want to make Mustachianism a little more relatable, and inspire you to live a more optimized life.
It all goes back to my big goal for Eat Sleep Breathe FI: to help you reach FI sooner! (I wholeheartedly believe that Mustachianism will help you do that!)
The Mostly Mustachian path to FI
In hope of inspiring other disillusioned Mustachians, I’m sharing a list of ‘mostly’ Mustachian ways you can reach for FI. You’ll get most of the benefits of Mustachianism, and none of the deprivation!
That means a faster and happier path to FI—who doesn’t want that? Expand the tabs below to learn how being Mostly Mustachian can still get you to FI.
You desperately want to retire in your 30s like Mr. Money Mustache. But that’s nearly impossible because of the hurdles you face (you live in an expensive city, don’t earn enough income, etc.)
Instead of FI in your 30s, aim for FI in your 40s or 50s. After all, anything beats the standard North American retirement age of 65!
What I did
Getting clear on our core values is what allowed me to let go of FI in our 30s.
Now, FI in our 40s feels great. Our path to FI is happier and more meaningful because we’re living true to our values. Plus, I no longer beat myself up for not reaching a goal that was (for us) unrealistic in the first place.
You could instantly reach FI by selling your house and moving to cheaper area (as Mustachians often do). But you love where you live and you don’t want to move!
Instead of being a roadblock to FI, why not turn your expensive city into a FI booster? Here are some tips to get you started!
What we do
To help offset our housing costs, we house hack by hosting international homestay students.
This house hack/side hustle hybrid allows us to earn income using our house and write off expenses we’d have to pay for anyway!
I’m working on a series of articles about homestay hosting to tell you all about it… stay tuned for more!
You’d love to do the Mustachian thing and buy a reliable used car, drive it almost never, and ride a bike almost always. But you can’t ‘cuz everything’s too far, you have two kids to lug around, and the weather stinks… wah wah wah! (Cue MMM facepunch.)
There are lots of other ways to optimize your transportation costs and avoid being a car clown! While these tactics won’t make as significant of an impact as ditching your car, they’ll still make a difference.
Take a look below to learn how we minimize our family’s transportation costs.
What we do
- Walk the kids to and from school everyday: rain, snow, or shine. (Much to my kids’ chagrin, I’ve always been downright militant about this!)
- Save up and pay cash for all our cars. (Something we’ve always done and will continue to do.)
- Buy reliable, non-fancy USED cars and keep them for a long time. (Something we’ve not previously done, but plan to from now on.)
- Keep up with regular car maintenance.
- Have the highest possible deductibles on our insurance.
- Use services and shops as close to home as possible.
- Meal plan so we can grocery shop once a week or less.
- Combine errands to minimize trips.
- Learning hypermiling techniques and drive more mindfully.
I’m also eagerly following the evolution of electric vehicles, and hope that in the not-too-distant future, a good, used EV will become our main vehicle.
You wish you could slash your travels costs to MMM’s $2,500 per year—but how? That barely covers the flights for a family of four!
MMM might be hardcore with that whole carpentourism thing he does, but his other cost-saving tactics are totally doable. For instance, why not try slow travel, or renting out your house while you’re away?
What we do
We LOVE travel! But our favourite destinations (Asia, theme parks, Hawaii) can be pricey and are arguably non-Mustachian.
Additionally, as Canadians, we’re not as fortunate as our friends down south. (Our travel hacking opportunities aren’t nearly as lucrative.) So we end up paying out of pocket for almost all our travel.
But travelling as a family brings us so much lasting happiness—it’s worth every penny. As with our choice to live in a pricey part of the world, our decision to allocate a large chunk of our budget to travel is a conscious one.
Here are some tools and techniques we use to keep our travel costs reasonable:
- Kayak to find flight deals.
- Hopper and Google Flights for monitoring flight prices.
- Google for researching deals and other money-saving tactics.
- Airbnb for low-cost accommodations (with kitchens so we can save money by cooking).
- House swapping for free accommodations.
- Travel rewards to offset some of our travel costs.
- Slow travel (e.g. staying in one destination for 25 days instead of 10) to maximize the value of costly flights.
One day, we’d like to also try house-sitting and renting out our house while we’re way.
You aspire to be as low-cost and healthy as MMM with your entertainment spending, but it’s not always possible! Maybe you love movies at the theatre (like us), or expensive hobbies like golfing. What’s a Mustachian to do?
Use MMM’s entertainment ‘standards’ as inspiration—not hard and fast rules. Find ways to be more frugal with your entertainment choices, and again, check in with your core values!
If your entertainment choices line up with your values, there’s nothing wrong with (frugally) pursuing them—even if they’re not totally Mustachian.
What we do
We’re mostly aligned with MMM’s thoughts on entertainment. But we do enjoy spendy activities like skiing and occasional movies at the theatre. Here are some of the ways we save on these expenses:
- Look for free or low-cost activities (they’re usually plentiful in bigger cities).
- Google for festival and event coupons.
- Take advantage of corporate/group discounts through M’s company.
- Buy Groupons to try new activities or save on favourites.
- Make good use of Netflix and our home theatre.
- Have movie nights at home or at friends’ houses.
- Buy discounted season passes for skiing.
- Buy used sports gear for the kids (they outgrow it so fast, and wreck it anyway—why buy new?)
- Borrow books, e-books, and audiobooks from the library.
- Purchase used board games and video games whenever possible.
- Borrow video games from M’s resource library at work.
- Purchase Kids World passes for year-round family fun. (Sorry—they’re for Vancouver-area residents only!)
Note: that’s not an affiliate link. I just love this organization so much that I tell everyone I know about them!
Food, utilities, fixed expenses, and discretionary spending
You might hate me for saying this, but there should be no dilemma in these categories! Why? Well for one thing, MMM himself isn’t all that hardcore in these areas.1 Secondly, I think all of us can easily trim costs in these categories without feeling deprived.
If you’re new to the FI journey, give yourself some quick wins by going through these categories one by one and optimizing them.
What we do
I’m planning to write a future post about how we save on these types of expenses. For now, check out this post from Million Dollar Journey—his strategies are remarkably similar to ours!
Summing it up
It’s okay if you’re not 100% Mustachian. There are lots of ways to be ‘Mostly Mustachian’ and still reach your FI goals—without deprivation. It might mean reaching FI a little later in life. But if it means increased happiness while on your journey, it’s worth it!
What about you?
Are you Mostly Mustachian? How do you include Mustachianism in your FI journey? Share your story in the comments below—maybe we’ll learn a thing or two from each other!
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