This post may be old news to those of you who are already long time fans of the Mr. Money Mustache blog. But the hubs and I recently started reading it and found it really jived with our existing philosophies on work, hobbies, and money.
If you’re not familiar, MMM’s basic idea is that most retirement and savings advice is wrongly geared at an overly-consumerist lifestyle. If you can cut down your spending (by walking and bicycling instead of driving expensive cars everywhere, by enjoying the outdoors and recreation instead of expensive entertainment, by doing your own chores and home improvement projects instead of hiring others to do so) you can dump that money into aggressively paying off your mortgage and investing in low-fee index funds. Doing this can allow you to retire early – way early, like, in your 30s.
(Click “continue reading” to see more Mustachian thoughts!)
Now, that’s not to say MMM philosophy doesn’t have its drawbacks. (The hubby and I have joked about starting a satire version called Dr. Dollar Douchebag with advice like “Want to retire early? Try being more rich. Also, try being less poor.”) MMM is a bit cavalier in his advice about telling people to live walking/biking distance to their work, like it’s always a super-easy thing to do (in downtown Austin, you could do that, but your house would cost 5x as much as living in the burbs for 1/4 of the space). And his staying-with-family-as-travel and never-eating-out-at-a-restaurant policies, while they may work for him and his family (whose main goal is to spend more time with their child); they’re definitely not the same goals as the hubs and I, proud DINKs who enjoy our luxury experiences.
Overall, though, we’ve really enjoyed skimming through the blog and picking and choosing a few new tricks of the trade to help us become more efficient money-savers. For example, instead of simply throwing away or donating several items in our garage that we were ready to part with (an old wine fridge, motorcycle gear, a chair) we put them on Craigslist and got nearly a 100% return on them. And next weekend, the hubs will be self-installing a radiant barrier and additional blow-in installation in the attic to help reduce energy expenses.
If you’re looking for a few easy places to cut-back yourselves, here are a few of the easiest changes we’ve made over the years (both before and after the discovery of MMM).
- I’ve been cutting the hubby’s hair for the past year or so. If you have a set of electric clippers with a few different guards, and a pair of barbering scissors, men’s haircuts aren’t that hard. Say your man gets a $15 hair cut (with tax and tip) twice a month – if we put that extra money to our mortgage each month instead, we’d be able to pay off our mortgage an entire YEAR earlier than if we just pay the minimum payments. Not bad.
- We dumped our fancy gym. We had been paying $70 a month for the privilege of using 24 Hour Fitness’s treadmills a couple times a week. We’ve started exploring the walking and running trails of our local parks instead. If it gets too hot this summer, we’ll join the neighborhood association fitness center, which costs $10 a month/pp with no signup fees, and slightly older and less fancy equipment. Invested for a 7% return over 10 years – that’s over $12,000 saved, or enough to take 3-4 really great vacations.
- We make our own Christmas presents where possible. The hubby has a huge family – 12 adults and 7 kids among just his parents, siblings, and sibling’s immediate families. My close family includes another 9 adults and 5 kids. So we use our hobbies to make gifts. This past year, we harvested honey from our backyard beehive and gave all the adults a jar of honey, homemade honey-roasted pecans (with pecans from our yard), and homemade beeswax gift soaps. The year before we bought picture frames in bulk and then printed great photos of the family from our wedding to fill the frames. Assuming we save $30 per adult, that’s $540 a year we can reallocate to at least five really nice dinners out together. Done.
It’s unlikely we’ll ever be quite as hardcore as Mr. Money Mustache. But saving a few extra dollars here and there never hurts, and it’s definitely nice to find a blog that sees our tendencies towards DIY home improvement, buying used when possible, and cooking the vast majority of our own meals as “sensible” instead of
“cheap” “frugal.” 🙂