Both Jack and I have been avid readers of the top blog mentioned on Rockstar Finance: Mr. Money Mustache. By avid readers, we each have read every single post! Although we are still Car Clowns, the blog has really changed our perspective on frugality and financial independence; we have both been Mustachians at times throughout our life.
Mr. Money Mustache really gave us both a different take on our relationship with money, along with different tips on how to save mula throughout our financial kingdom journey. Never had I been so motivated to ride my bike to work or hang dry my clothes as I was when I first read just how much money it could save. I know he certainly helped us define frugality as a much more positive lifestyle choice to friends and family.
Jack and I both have become more financially stable and advanced in our Personal Finance Knowledge since first reading through his archives, we’ve had our grievances with living to the extreme frugality 24/7 as he recommends and wanted to talk through them with you all.
What is a Mustachian?
Before we dive into the cost and gains of choosing the Mustachian lifestyle – we want to define some of the fundamental principles one must exhibit to be knighted as such.
Mustachian Principle #1: Income Saving Calculators
It is because of this very popular article with the included graph of savings % vs. years to retirement, that those in the FIRE community faithfully track the amount of income they save each year.
Why? We want to know how much longer the requirement from our stakeholders (aka family) to work will remain. Mr. Money Mustache laid out for us the “why” we save and focus so much on reducing extra expenditures in our kingdoms!!
Mustachian Principle #2: Muscle Over Motor Believers
Have you ever went over to Walmart or Target to pick up a $15, abdomen and bicep fuel type lawn mower? Me either!
Mustachians utilize their muscle over motor principle to live healthier – saving money over the long run. Need to carry some materials to a neighbors place? You DO NOT need a CLOWN CAR (or pickup truck)! Instead, use your muscles and a wheelbarrow to get the job done.
Are you hiring someone to carry your new furniture for your place? Don’t do it! Move it yourself (if able of course)
SN – he does mention in his article that it isn’t a perfect principle, stating the following:
“This isn’t a perfect rule, because there are exceptions. Motors are still useful when we’re trying to get some serious work done. I’m not suggesting that the world’s excavator operators climb down out of their cabins and pick up garden shovels, or that carpenters sell their table saws and start cutting 16-foot trim boards with a handsaw. Taxi drivers may or may not want to switch to rickshaws, and accountants should definitely not give up their computers.”
Mustachian Principle #3: Clown Car Bullies
Bike trailers, athletic and/or winter clothes, and of course a bike!
Riding your bike to avoid using gas money and exhausting fumes into the world are huge perks to avoiding being called a Clown Car Driver by Mustachians. In his article, he states in 10 years you will have 93K more in your bank or retirement account. Doesn’t sound too bad!
Bikes are fundamental to the lifestyle he recommends on the blog.
Mustachian Principle #4: Library Abuser
Become brilliant by being best friends with your local library…all for the free!
We’ve written about this also: Stupidly Simple Free Entertainment Resource? Your local library!
Mustachian Principle #5: Index Fund Bonanza
Does the thought of investing in businesses or stocks sound foreign? Are you worried that you will lose money in the long term because you know nothing about finance, let alone evaluating a business’s future?
That’s why both Mr. Money Mustache and also the Dukes recommend index funds for those who want to grow their wealth with a very hands off way.
Mustachian Principle #6: Stoic Philosophers
Ridding oneself of negative feelings and thoughts by inviting and creating the opposite instead is the life philosophy called Stoicism.
Focus on your happiness (not pleasure) and take things in the right perspective. It will all be great as you adapt to the challenges in your life!
The combination of these fundamental principles consistently demonstrated by an individual on their financial independence journey defines what it takes to be Mustachian!
Is Mustachian Lifestyle Choices the Epitome of FIRE?
Financial Independence drives many of us in the personal finance community. We’re paying off debt, renting our Airbnbs, and implementing many other strategies to create diverse income streams that accelerate our timelines. By increasing income and reducing expenses, we can move further along the retirement chart mentioned in the article above!
Does this goal mean we should make the extreme sacrifices all the time to reach it? Are we not doing our best if we are driving cars instead of driving? Should we be scolded for drying our clothes vs buying drying racks (Yes I have 2!!)?
We personally feel like it depends.
Mark Manson has postured that in all honesty, most of us are just in the middle of the bell curve. For the PF community, I feel we are definitely more on the frugal side, but how far??
Should we judge based on the level of frugality we implement to reach our financial goals?
Do we have to live up to the right side of the curve to be considered a good financial citizen of the personal finance community?
What Can The Mustachian Life (Extreme Frugality) Cost You?
The mindset of savings the most you can at all time cost you the following items:
We feel one of the most important principles you can have in life is balance. Balance between work, play, and relaxation. Balance between savings and spending. Balance between healthy eating and sweets.
Drinking soda regularly leads to way too much sugar and acid continuously fighting your teeth enamel. But what if you love soda? Balancing out this desire vs banning it can make you a much happier person. One soda per week vs one soda every day is a huge improvement for your health, balancing health and pleasure.
Being extremely frugal every day, of every year can lead to burn out on your way towards your money goals. We believe in taking a hard look at your relationship with money, alongside your goals, and determining whether or not this Mustachian lifestyle makes sense and how it will affect your overall wellness.
Have you always wanted to travel to the Greek Islands?
The choice comes down to whether or not you are OK with losing that money from your assets, extending the early retirement date you’re looking to reach.
We aren’t recommending going out and do everything you ever wanted to by disregarding your funds. What we’re suggesting is to use the money for both early retirement and enjoying your life, because we only get one!
Let’s imagine after graduating from high school or college you moved to a city far away from your family and friends. These are the people you regularly FaceTime or Skype. Your support system. The people that really make your life worth living!
Are you willing to make the trip to see them if you’re living on the extreme edge of Mustachian life?
Mustachian’s may respond by saying it is healthy to go travel, but you must find the most frugal way to do so – like Mr. Money Mustache’s family road trips. We don’t disagree fully. But, we do think that if visiting these people adds love, support, and happiness in your life – then go see them even if you can’t find the best deal (as long as your finances are in order).
It can be a very worthy decision to put off 1 percent of savings for the year towards your happiness instead.
The extreme frugality expectation for restaurants? Never go!
Your best friend decides on having a birthday dinner to celebrate the special day, should you say no?
A true friend’s birthday celebration should be a very high priority in your life. You can order the cheaper menu options and drink water to make it work!
What Can You Gain From Extreme Frugality?
By sacrificing to build up your investments and bank accounts by utilizing everything you spend money on, you can gain the following:
Mustachians recycle heavily and barely waste anything! They ride bikes to reduce their carbon footprint and add insulation in their house to create better temperature management – reducing electricity use. These are only a few…
This fundamental mindset transformation truly reduces the impact you leave on the environment!
Ability to Say Yes
“Opportunities come infrequently. When it rains gold, put out the bucket, not the thimble” – Warren Buffet
Filling up your coffers with financial stability places you in a unique position when opportunities come your way. That unique position is the ability to say yes to great opportunities because of your patience and sacrifices leading up to them!
Who doesn’t get inspired to find incredible ideas that help save money over and over again like the lawn mower mentioned above?
The creative juices of Mustachians innovate how they live on a daily basis. It makes life much more fun and challenging while leaving the “clowns” behind!
Accelerate Financial Independence
Fellow Dukes, we all want to build a financial kingdom.Based on your income and your situation, the pace at which the kingdom is built is decided for you.
We can make decisions that increase the pace, extreme frugality is one of those decisions!
Risk Tolerance (bc you have money to fall back) cant do what when you don’t have any money
It’s much easier to have a tolerance for risk, specifically in the stock market dips or purchases, when you have money to fall back on.
Not only are we talking stock market dips here, but even stress can be severely reduced.
There is just something comforting about being able to make investments or take a calculated risk without the worry of financially sinking your ship or halting all kingdom construction.
Is it Right For You? The Duke of Dollars Perspective
More Effective Earlier in Life
We feel that living on the right side of the bell curve at the earlier stages of your financial journey leads to better results. The beginning stages of building income, emergency funds, and filling your retirement accounts with coins is tough!
Income increases as your career grows for most, and getting the foundations set early compounds greatly throughout the later years.
We aren’t saying that it adds more benefit since the chart speaks for itself on years to retirement, but it is easier before you have a family and definitely more effective to get that stable footing when climbing the financial independence mountain!
“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it. “
Doesn’t have to be all or nothing
The bell curve easily demonstrates this perspective.
We believe that you can change your focus, or position on the bell curve as needed.
Are you in debt and looking to pay it off? It may make sense to be extreme! Are you making enough money to max all your retirement accounts and invest outside of them? Extreme may not be required. You control the dial that determines the position you take on that monthly budget, in other words, you can set the expectation and principles based on your situation and need – changing the level of frugality you implement as needed.
Our recommendation for your life is incorporate the principles you truly believe in as they will stick. For you, this might mean drying your clothes and riding your bike but enjoying a nice restaurant meal a few times a month.
At Duke of Dollars we won’t judge you, but encourage you to live the life you want with the decisions you make. Make them wisely!
We wrote about milestone maps and the benefits of breaking down financial independence into steps. To achieve some of these milestones, you may need to cut your spending heavily. Always remember to reward yourself afterward for doing so (motivation!).
Mustachian life has been a phenomenon in the FIRE community. Mr. Money Mustache has made a huge impact on many lives – it isn’t easy being a top blog with so many great ones out there! The mindset to live frugally and enjoy the little things in life is a wonderful one, and as we have mentioned can also cost you if always acted on.
We wanted to give both sides of the story.
There are both pros and cons to living to get the most value of every dollar spent, and I feel we can all agree on it is much better for your future than being on the left side of the curve.
What do you think about extreme frugality? What are your objections to our costs or gains? What have you gained from it? What has it cost you?