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.
As anyone who has ever sold a house will tell you, you must prioritize curb appeal. Before a potential buyer even considers looking inside your house, they notice the outside first. Does it attract the right kind of attention? Does it take away from the feel you're going for? If you plan to sell sometime soon, you must think about these things. Here are some landscaping options to increase your home's curb appeal, so you can get the best price on your home.
Extensive Plants and Greenery
A barren front yard won't get you the price you want on your home. So, invest in at least a little bit of greenery to keep the surrounding area from looking too dead. Shrubs and bushes tie the house to the lawn that precedes it, and flower beds bring a pop of color to an otherwise drab structure. You can also strategically plant some trees to improve the overall feel of your home's exterior.
As we mentioned, your lawn is one of the most prominent features of your home's exterior. A patchy, dried-up lawn will quickly drive your home's price way down. Some of the best landscaping options for your home's curb appeal involve improving your lawn for the next inhabitant. Overall fertilization, ground aeration, underbrush removal, proper mowing—all of these lawn care tasks contribute to a greener and more lively area that invites people to see your house, rather than stay away from it.
There's nothing like a broken and disheveled pathway to make someone think twice about buying a property. Just as you want the entryway in your house to be welcoming, so too should the pathway leading up to the house be inviting. The pathway from the street to your front door provides plenty of real estate to get creative with. You don't have to settle for a boring concrete pathway. Consider something more eye catching, like a cobblestone path or intermittent brick patterns, as a way to better welcome potential buyers.
Usable Outdoor Furniture
Landscaping doesn't just involve the ground you walk on; also included are the items you use as extras to the overall look. Outdoor furniture is one such extra that you don't necessarily need but can look quite attractive if done correctly. Staging is important with outdoor furniture. Old, broken-down pieces will only look like more work to the potential buyer. A few comfortable chairs, a bench, or a table with an umbrella really go a long way to improving your outdoor aesthetics.
A good tip for deciding on curb appeal items is to decide what you personally would want to see as a part of a welcoming home's exterior. You don't need to go overboard, but a little bit of forethought could net you quite a lot of extra cash in the sale.
Many people strive to support their community by donating their time or their money. When you find a meaningful cause, you might be quick to cut a donation check. Though it's admirable to be quick to act charitably, you should be wary of several common mistakes made when giving to charity. Being mindful of these mistakes and learning tips for making informed charitable choices can help you make the most out of your generous check.
Acting Quickly Out of Emotion
Mission statements are meant to be compelling. If you're an emotionally driven individual, it's natural to pull out your wallet at the sight of a sad puppy on TV or when informed about food insecurity over the phone. Unfortunately, not all charities are as effective or official as they may seem.
Take your passion for helping others one step further by making sure your chosen charity is legit. Speaking with a representative, reviewing their website and social media accounts, and looking at testaments online can give you a better idea of whether the organization is worth your donation.
Forgetting to Keep Record of the Donation
Don't forget that you can reap some financial perks from giving back! With the proper documentation of your donation, you can acquire a better tax deductible.
If you donate more than $12,400 as a single filer or $24,800 as one of two joint filers, you're eligible to deduct that amount from your taxes. So, when a charity asks if you'd like a receipt of donation, always answer yes.
Donating Unusable Materials
Most charities can utilize a monetary donation—it's the physical donations that usually cause some issues. Providing a local nonprofit with irrelevant materials or gifting them with unusable products are surprisingly common mistakes made when giving to charity.
Always check your intended charity's website for a list of things they do and do not accept. The majority of places will provide a guideline to donating or offer contact information to clarify any questions.
Strictly Giving at Year's End
As more and more people get into the holiday spirit at the end of the year, nonprofit organizations see an influx of donations. While it's great to spread holiday cheer via a monetary donation, it's important to keep that spirit going year-round.
With regular donations, charities can more effectively allocate their annual budget. Setting up an automatic monthly donation with the charity of your choosing can maximize your impact. You can account for a monthly donation by foregoing a costly coffee every once in a while.
Knowing how much you should spend on home maintenance each year is hard to figure out and may be preventing you from buying your first home. The types of costs you'll incur depend on the house you buy and its location. The one certainty is that you should start saving now. Read on to figure out how much to start setting aside based on the home you own.
The Age of Your House
Consider several factors when budgeting for home repairs. If you've purchased a new home, your house likely won't require as much maintenance for a few years. Homes built 20 or more years ago are likely to require more maintenance, including replacing and keeping your windows clean. Further, depending on your home's location, weather can cause additional strain over time, so you may need to budget for more repairs.
The One-Percent Rule
An easy way to budget for home repairs is to follow the one-percent rule. Set aside one percent of your home's purchase price each year to cover maintenance costs. For instance, if you paid $200,000 for your home, you would set aside $2,000 each year. This plan is not foolproof. If you bought your home for a good deal during a buyer's market, your home could require more repairs than you've budgeted for.
The Square-Foot Rule
Easy to calculate, you can also budget for home maintenance by saving one dollar for every square foot of your home. This pricing method is more consistent than pricing it by how much you paid because the rate relies on the objective size of your home. Unfortunately, it does not consider inflation for the area where you live, so make sure you also budget for increased taxes and labor costs if you live in or near a city.
The Mix and Match Method
Since there is no infallible rule for how much you should spend on home maintenance, you can combine both methods to get an idea for a budget. Average your results from the square-foot rule and the one-percent rule to arrive at a budget that works for you. You should also increase your savings by 10 percent for each risk factor that affects your home, such as weather and age.
Holding on to savings is easier in theory than practice. Once you know how much you should spend on home maintenance, you'll know what to aim for and be more prepared for an emergency. If you are having trouble securing funds for home repairs, consider taking out a home equity loan, borrowing money from friends or family, or applying for funds through a home repair program through your local government for low-income individuals.