Mr. Money Mustache is an online personality, a character of Peter Adeney who offers financial advice that aims to help people live frugally and retire early. The Money Mustache blog slogan is "Financial Freedom Through Badassity," and his personal finance advice often requires an independent, confident disposition that's willing to sacrifice. But the promised payoffs are huge, and their example of success is Mr. Mustache, himself.
The blog features posts by Mr. Money Mustache, its extreme character, and the Realist, his checks-and-balance opponent. While the Realist would have readers skip the once-a-week McDonald's and, instead, save $10, Mr. Money Mustache insists on doing it hard and fast. He'd push a family with two workers making $60k a year, each, to save $5,000 per month as a basic rule.
Born in Ontario, Canada, Mr. Mustache-Adeney's working life started with a paper route and continued steadily until he graduated from college and moved to the U.S.
At this point, he writes, with enough financial independence to cover a down payment on a house, he bought a fixer-upper with his future wife. With two incomes and a small mortgage, "we were on a treadmill that was pushing us forwards instead of fighting one that pulled us back."
In the following few years, his and his wife's savings compounded until they arrived at the striking moment in their story: instead of splurging on new cars, or vacations, the couple simply retired. At 30.
Mr. Mustache started writing advice from a relatively unique perspective: as a person for whom these practices worked, even thought it doesn't for the vast majority. His posts aren't the usual college commencement quotes from billionaires who offer generalities that most people already know ("work hard," "save money," "don't be afraid of failure"). The writing on his website is honest, often annoyed but optimistic and full of sarcastic humor.
He writes as a person who beat the system and is sick of reading news about how this or that—or the economy, a poor excuse in his opinion—is hurting people's lives.
"Your current middle-class life is an Exploding Volcano of Wastefulness," he writes, and with this realization a person should be able to halve their expenses (and, consequently, double their savings). The Mustache family saved two-thirds of their income and retired at thirty. Is it really that simple? Is it true retirement doesn't need to wait until you are pushing 70 years old?
You may have read books about the FIRE movement ("Financial Independence, Retire Early") but Money Mustache says most of people get it wrong. "A fundamental truth in society is that most people are pretty bad at math. At the core, these FIRE ideas are simply about taking some solid math, combining it with principles of human happiness, and then distilling it down into a list of simple tactics that will get you way ahead in all areas of life. The benefits go way beyond money," he writes.
His list of steps to early retirement includes such advice as: erase debt; move close to work and avoid cars, especially unaffordable ones (he advocates bicycles strongly); cancel the TV service; grocery shop wisely (with lots of coupons); escape expensive mobile phones; and much, much more. Oh, and an important one: "practice optimism."
Mr. Money Mustache also provides a retirement calculator to help people stop working and become early retirees.
"Optimism tricks you into trying more things," he writes. Hope and positivity are crucial keys to Mustachianism, because the way involves more sacrifice than most people feel ready to make. Optimism makes it all possible: "What do you do with all that extra knowledge? You succeed."
That's about as close to a commencement address as the blog gets. Most of its articles trigger action because of their unromantic bluntness. You know you've succeeded when you can write a sentence like this: "My wife and I just saved about 66% of our pay without really noticing it, and in under ten years we woke up and realized we didn't have to work for a living any more."
"But fast-processor tablet-phones are important, and cars are necessary, and you know what they say about vacations benefiting your health, and etc," we all plead.
Mr. Mustache acknowledges all of this desire and want, but he calls it just that. He emphasizes a focus on happiness instead of convenience. You're ultimately left with a choice between working most of your life to live conveniently, or sacrificing instant pleasures for deeper happiness and an early retirement.
Even with investing in stocks, he advises you to simply buy an index fund with low fees and get back to enjoying life. "If index funds really are the statistically best bet, why are there still thousands of brand-name mutual funds and hotshot traders out there?" Mr. Mustache: "For the same reason that Las Vegas still exists and people still drive SUVs. Humans are irrational creatures..."
Mustachianism recalls the old wisdom that happiness is the appreciation of what one already has. Mr. Money Mustache doesn't want people to live with constant spending guilt. He wants his readers to escape the grip of debt and material obsession, and understand just how close—how very close—they are to financial victory and personal success.
When people think of gifting, they tend to think of the winter holiday season.
Suddenly, every store offers gift wrapping and the internet is a cornucopia of gift guides. I get super into it, making lists — like Santa himself — of who’s getting gifts r and who’s getting nuffin because they scorned me last time around. Black Friday and the winter sale season have trained me well - I’m now in the groove of saving in advance, prepping my budget, and keeping an eye out for major sales.
But with all that anticipation in winter, there’s almost nothing of the sort in spring. And, after going through my spending last year, I realized why I felt like all my money was going down the drain from April to June: this is a holiday-filled season too!
At first, I blamed it on hot-girl summer — and maybe in part, this was the case. Buying new clothes to refresh my stale pandemic wardrobe, and admittedly getting carried away with my post-vax excitement for going/doing/seeing everything all took hits at my budget.
In the future, I’ll make sure to prep more for summer because every year brings new exciting things to spend money on – especially outside.. Plus, as travel becomes more and more seamless with fewer restrictions, having a “summer buffer” will let me dip into my savings for trips that may come, not into my credit card balance.
I told myself I’d make those financial decisions for the summer, but it wasn’t just the summer. The whole spring was a financial pit and I didn’t completely understand why. After all, isn’t spring for cleaning, decluttering, and even making money by ditching things that aren’t serving you? Why then, did I keep watching my accounts get drained?
The answer is gifts. From Easter in April, Mother’s Day in May, Father’s Day in June, and more, spring is a parade of little holidays that sneak up on you with their obligatory gifting. And it doesn’t even end there for me – I have a ton of friends’ birthdays during these months! With Tauruses being known for their materialism (or maybe that’s just the ones I know), I always splurge on their presents. This leaves me with an empty checking account … kind of by surprise.
In the winter, I prep and save and budget. In the spring, I scramble and overspend. But not this year. This year, I’m very aware that it’s gifting season and I am planning accordingly.
Adele, a Taurus, courtside in all designer. See what I mean? Does she LOOK easy to impress? No, this is why I'm broke
How to Save For Short Term Goals Using Sinking Funds
According to personal finance blogs, one of the keys to saving enough for seasons like this is starting early. Establishing what is known as “sinking funds” is the most efficient way to consistently save for short-term goals. From everything to impending vacations to holiday gifts, sinking funds let you start planning early and reinforce good spending habits. No longer will you be surprised by recurring bills or how much a vacation really costs – the money will be saved, waiting for you to enjoy.
TIME defines sinking funds as a special kind of savings account. “A sinking fund functions similar to a savings account, but with a purpose and approach all its own,” says TIME. “A sinking fund is money you set aside for a specific upcoming expense. Unlike a general savings account or emergency fund, a sinking fund has a clear purpose attached to it — whether it’s to save for a vacation, down payment on a home, or a big-ticket splurge. The financial educator Haley Sacks has a sinking account just for astrologists. If you have a big expense coming up, you might consider creating a sinking fund to take the stress out of saving for it.”
I’m taking notes — and even considering starting my own astrology sinking fund — and I already made one for “Spring Surprises.” For any savings goal, keeping a separate savings account apart from your checking account is the first step to making sure you’re actually contributing to it. Seeing that number get closer to your goal is great motivation. For sinking funds, I make many different savings accounts, all with specific names according to the goal. I even add the goal amount and the month it’s “due” to the account name so I know when each is coming up. This gets me excited to see the fruits of my labor and keep contributing consistently. It also makes it easier to budget for my sinking funds each month with a dedicated amount.
Sinking funds are great cash flow tools that keep you in control of your purchases. According to Clever Girl Finance, a popular personal finance blog for women: “When you don't have a sinking fund, you may be forced to make these purchases through another source of funds, i.e., your emergency fund, your savings account, or your credit card. A sinking fund helps you to plan for large purchases. It also helps you stay on track with your savings goals, keeps your debt low, and allows you to make purchases freely without feeling the pinch.”
This added security lets you spend money on gifts guilt-free. Once it’s in your sinking fund, you can spend it for its allocated purpose without having to worry about other expenses or going into debt. You’ve planned for this. And now you can be generous without the unexpected stress of draining your checking or even your own spending money.
What to Buy This Spring
With all the little holidays that accumulate during the season, it can be easy to be surprised by them. Sinking funds take care of the financials, but an extra step of planning never hurts. Figuring out what you actually want to buy in advance lets you track prices and take advantage of sales, rather than buying whatever marked-up mother’s day bouquet you come across last minute.
Be the best gifter of the season by simply being prepared. You can find unique gifts for all your loved ones on Uncommon Goods.
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Never spiral out of control when spring comes again. Make a smart purchase decision for you, your lucky giftee, and Ukrainian refugees by choosing Uncommon Goods for all your gifts this season.
Kim K is acting up again — nature is healing.
After Kanye West recently went on an online tear trying to win Kim back by … weaponizing his fans against her and her boyfriend — the logic is flawed, especially since West was simultaneously parading his relationship with Julia Fox — a judge declared Kim Kardashian legally single. Silly me, I thought this would be the end of the whole ordeal. I naively hoped that I would get some peace, quiet, and respite from the Kardashian/Jenner/West/Barker/Fox/Davidson/whoever-else brood for at least a little while.
Once again, I was wrong.
Kim Kardashian recently made it Instagram-official with Pete Davidson in a very on-trend photo dump. And — predictably — this went viral. This is … whatever. Good for them. However, at the same time, a video of Kim’s advice to business owners also went viral.
In an interview for Variety, the magazine asked Kim for her "best advice for women in business." In response, Kim said — in all seriousness and without a hint of sarcasm or self-awareness — “Get your f—ing ass up and work.” She continued: “It seems like nobody wants to work these days. You have to surround yourself with people that want to work. No toxic work environments and show up and do the work. Have a good work environment where everyone loves what they do because you have one life.”
If this sounds like bad advice, it’s because it is. In fact, none of it really means anything substantial. At best, it’s vacuous and unhelpful. At worst, it's ignorant and completely insensitive.
Emerging from a global pandemic that ravaged the economy with high rates of unemployment and confused work boundaries for those who could work, Kim’s assessment of people “these days” is outrageously out of touch.
In fact, most people are working more. Studies show: “Nearly 70 percent of professionals who transitioned to remote work because of the pandemic say they now work on the weekends. And 45 percent say they regularly work more hours during the week than they did before.”
While the rise of remote work promised more freedom and flexibility, it actually placed increased pressure on employees. They face rising workloads — especially in shrinking departments that laid off some employees due to budget cuts — and less ability to advocate for themselves. So, even if Kim is right and people don’t “want to work,” they’re working anyway. And they’re working more than ever.
According to Paul McDonald, senior executive director at LA-based staffing firm Robert Half, "While remote work affords employees greater flexibility, it also makes disconnecting extremely difficult. Many people feel pressure to keep up with rising workloads and are putting in long hours to support the business and customer needs.”
This pressure, combined with hastily-set-up remote systems means employees have been left in limbo, clocking in at the end of the world. “Simply handing an employee a laptop and downloading Zoom or some other collaborative software is not enough to help employees manage their work and lives through the pandemic and beyond,” says Cali Williams Yost, a nationally recognized expert on workplace flexibility and founder of the Manhattan-based consultancy Flex+Strategy Group.
Due to the prevalence of hustle culture, these boundaries are even more blurred. Unfortunately, the glorification of non-stop hustling was omnipresent during the pandemic. Remember when we first started lockdown and everyone was like, “write a book,” or “get a six-pack.” Somehow, that expectation still stands, and now those who got crypto-rich or exploited people’s pandemic vulnerabilities are looking down on the people who didn’t.
Kim is the latter. Her various business ventures all depend on selling consumer insecurities back to people. The self-image she constructed for her brand is one that promises her fans they can get a piece of her life, her success, her looks if they only spend more and more money.
According to Kim, her job is burdensome. She defended herself, saying: “When you do product shots (or) when you (post) things that are work-related posts, it's still a job and it's still really hard. Success is never easy. If you put in the work, you will see results.” But once again, this is overly simplistic, oblivious, and ignorant.
Not to say that she hasn’t leveraged the privileges she’s been given, but that’s just it. Kim Kardashian was born in proximity to wealth and fame, all of which provided her with the opportunities she has now leveraged for her success. And some of these opportunities have come at the cost of other people — i.e. her whole aesthetic and how it was built on a foundation of anti-blackness. As a fair-skinned woman, Kim was praised and uplifted for embodying aesthetics that Black women have been shamed and degraded for. So her success is not merely a result of her desire to work, her individual actions. Rather, it’s because she had all the prerequisites to success. But not everyone can just reach out and choose a life of access, ease, and abundance.
To be honest, the Variety question was kind of a setup. Kim’s relationship with work is not like most people’s, so no advice she would have given would be relatable. Sure, it didn’t have to be so shallow or perpetuate toxic ideas about work. But the lesson here is clear: don’t take work advice from Kim Kardashian.