The Co’s Katherine Gougeon explores social and cultural details that have an outsized ripple effect. Follow her @kgougeon.

 

mr-money-mustache

 

With tax returns on the brain, vacation bills on the horizon, and a shipment from J. Crew in the mail, I find myself drawn to Mr. Money Mustache like a moth to a flame.

The hugely popular personal finance blog, dedicated to ‘leading a frugal yet badass life of leisure’ is authored by Peter Adeney, a Canadian ex-pat who retired comfortably at age 30, simply by saving a large chunk of the modest income he earned in his 20s. Now 41 and living mortgage-free in Colorado, Peter’s indulgences include an organic diet, copious family vacations in nature and around the world, and ‘quantity time’ to spare for hobbies, athletic pursuits and loved ones.

Characterizing middle class life as an ‘exploding volcano of wastefulness’, Mr. Money Mustache points the finger at two culprits: heaping on debt and living beyond your means. The blog maintains that the key to building wealth isn’t earning more: it’s saving more. “Learning to separate happiness from spending money is the quickest and most reliable way to a better life,” writes Peter, who over the years, has shed the desire for new cars, cell phones, convenience foods, crappy plastic toys for toddler birthday parties, lawn care products and Disney vacations.

Why do we love this guy? The Mustachian approach to financial freedom is lifestyle-based, often funny, and way-left field of traditional money blogs. A few random pearls:

Accumulate wealth before having children These days, kids kind of happen in your 30s. If you attempt that feat with nothing but a well-networked career and a hangover, your life will suck. 

Practice Voluntary Discomfort and learn to mock convenience Many people build their entire lives around avoiding discomfort. Driving short distances, luxuriating in hot showers, and consuming prepared foods are examples of lifestyle habits that can make you soft while putting a dent in your savings.

View tight clothing as a motivation to lose weight versus an excuse to go shopping Too-tight pants are your biggest ally in addressing the underlying problem – if you give them up you’ll be allowed to forget the real problem: your unhealthy lifestyle.

Never borrow money to buy a car: If you can’t easily pay for the desired vehicle in cash then you cannot afford it.

Cut out unnecessary daily expenses and recurring fees. Gym and yoga memberships gathering dust. Cable TV when Netflix and Putlocker will do. By trading your Starbucks habit for some home brewing, you can eventually save enough to pay for your child’s university education.

The more of Mr. Money Mustache you read, the more you realize Mustachianism isn’t really about the money. It’s about knowing what Mustachians know: happiness comes from many sources, none of which involve car or purse upgrades.