On this very special day of frenzied, pointless consumption in the USA, I’d like to tell the story of a recent love affair I had with a very frugal man. This man changed my life – and the amount of money I waste – quite profoundly.
Mr. Money Mustache is the pseudonym of a mild-mannered Canadian man who, with his wife, retired at 30 years old just by saving and smartly investing 75% of their income over a decade. They did not make gobs of money and they worked fairly regular jobs. But by re-imagining what true wealth is, they chose to live with much less stuff than most of us do. In exchange, they bought themselves complete freedom starting at the age of 30.
They forfeited cars for bicycles. They very rarely ate out. They have found creative, natural ways to party with their friends, instead of dropping major cashola at bars. Also, they shaved off all sorts of small expenses like unnecessary cell phone plans and energy use.
This might sound like deprivation for those of us raised on Sex & The City, but when I read about how they choose to spend their money and time instead, they honestly sound like they’re having a lot more fun than most people I know.
I came upon this Mustachian philosophy when, within a two day span, I had let go of four yoga classes (dramatically reducing my income) and found out that my rent was going up $400/month. Suddenly I was like… shit. My sister Leda and I were talking about it and she said I should check out Mr. Money Mustache’s blog.
I gobbled up about 400 of his blog posts over a month and simultaneously made significant changes to my spending. Here’s a list of my original savings plan:
No more coffee out = $45
Rare dinners out (no alcohol, eat before leaving the house) = $150
No cab rides = $60
Wash undies in sink (less laundry to do) = $15
Drinks in public places = ??
Bring water with me = $5
No Lisa donation (a spiritual teacher I like) = $23
No therapy = $300 (was reaching a natural end anyway)
No Planned Parenthood donation = $20 (I wound up keeping this)
No Netflix? (decided to keep)
No buying clothing = $100
No buying shoes = varies
Library for books = $20
Barter for business advice
Buy legumes from Trader Joe’s = $10
Greens from farmers market
No paid yoga classes = $20
No Citibike = $12
Minimum monthly savings = $778
In addition to these changes I started riding my bike so much I didn’t need to get a monthly Metrocard. I stopped taking spontaneous and expensive weekend getaways. And I have found countless other small ways to save.
I have reduced my cell phone data and dropped its insurance. Also got rid of long distance on my home line. Got rid of a couple subscriptions I don’t use. Changed some of the pricier groceries I purchase. I bet in reality I’m spending at least $1,000 less per month than I was before making these changes.
But that’s not even the fun part. The fun part is that the less I need to be happy – less shoes, less spency dinners, less $12 glasses of Cava, less exotic vacations, less technology gimmicks… the lighter, freer and happier I feel. I am for wont of nothing. Which makes me feel like I already have everything.
Just thought I’d leave this here for inspiration, in case you are feeling sucked into the black hole of black Friday. Remember this: You are already whole. You are already rich. And spending less might be the best way to remind yourself that.
*Mr. Money Mustache’s first post (you can go forward in time from there)