In honor of finally launching a successful crowd funding campaign which you should definitely support, I wanted to talk a little bit more about money issues. The other day I read an article by a fellow going by the name of “Mr. Money Mustache.” Now I have to say I was quite intrigued by some of the things I read on that blog, but shortly thereafter I had a change of heart. See, I get where he’s coming from and I generally agree with most of what he says, but I see a few problems with his strategy for early retirement. I am living proof, which I will show by explaining how I measure up to his main points of advice.
Start by getting rid of your Debt Emergency if you have one.
By debt emergency he’s referring to student loans, credit card debt, mortgages, etc. Incidentally, I have no debt. I haven’t owed money to anyone pretty much since I left America. Now obviously this fact has made my life much more relaxing in comparison to what it would have been like if I did owe something other than rent every month. Suppose I did have debt, however. Suppose I had $30,000 in student loan debt, just for shits and giggles. Simply saying, “Go pay off your debt” is a little bit harder than it sounds. Granted, you could prioritize your spending to help you pay it down faster, but the way he presents it is a bit flippant.
Live close to work.Move to another city if you enjoy adventure. Don’t borrow money for cars, and don’t buy stupid ones. Ride a bike wherever you can.
Okay that’s nice but get this- I actually lived in a free apartment from 2006-2009. During that time I either lived about 10 minutes walking distance from work or my metro pass was entirely paid for. Even now I use only public transport, which is still relatively cheap. I spend zero money on gas. I still don’t feel like I’m anywhere near financial independence.
Cancel your TV service.
I literally haven’t turned on my TV in at least a year.
Stop wasting money on groceries.
This is a bit hard to do in a country with such terrible inflation, but I generally don’t buy super expensive products.
Give your kids the opportunity to achieve greatness without being pampered.
No kids, so I’m definitely saving money there. Actually I’d like to achieve financial independence in order to have kids.
Lose the overpriced cell phones.
Still using the same HTC since 2012. Pay as you go and it costs me about $3 a week at most.
Learn to appreciate the life-boosting joy of using your own body to get things done.
I don’t see how masturbation is going to lead to financial freedom.
Learn to mock convenience.
Here he’s referring to paying more for convenience. This is something you really have to look at on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes convenience is worth the cost if you’ll actually do something more productive in the time you stand to save. Generally I can’t say that I’m spending any noticeable amount of money on “convenience.”
Bitch, I live in fuckin’ RUSSIA!
So my point is that in general I pretty much do everything this guy recommends, aside from investing, and I’ve been doing these things for the past eight years or so. To be fair I have done a lot of traveling, but that could be offset by the fact that for a period of nearly three years I wasn’t paying any rent, and I also paid no cost for daily transport until the autumn of 2011. Those benefits also offset those years when I received very dismal pay, from $700 to $900 a month. I can think of some genuinely wasteful expenditures, but to be honest if that money were returned to me it would only amount to maybe $2500, max. I don’t see a down payment on a house there. So even bearing that in mind, I ought to have retired a year or to ago according to this guy’s formulation.
My point is that financial freedom is a little bit harder than some people think. I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who really need the advice he’s giving, but I’m living proof that you could be exceeding his recommendations on several counts and still be nowhere near the kind of freedom he’s apparently achieved. Generally he seems like an upstanding guy and I’m certainly intrigued by what he says about investing and saving for retirement, but when you have no place to live and very limited employment prospects in the States, you can’t afford to be thinking about retirement. Everything needs to be short term.