Following up on my previous discussion on influences, I have to mention Mr. Money Mustache, hereafter abbreviated as MMM. This guy’s got to take credit for popularising a more frugal lifestyle in a way that someone as hardcore as Jacob from ERE can’t do. MMM’s profile’s been slowly building and in fact he was even the subject of a feature in the New Yorker recently. Of course, any time the trashmedia kraken picks up the topic of frugal living the whiners crawl out of the woodwork to talk about how hard it is to make the loan payments on their ridiculous cars on a salary of merely $85k a year. But I digress. Also, it’s probably unfair to categorise the New Yorker as a tentacle of the kraken.
Where MMM differs from many other financial independence writers, in my opinion, is his emphasis on relentless optimism and really pushing the idea that teaching yourself to live with some discomfort is good for you. This is vital to your life if you’re going to reach financial independence earlier than others do. After all, by not spending money to consume all the nice material goods that are available these days you’re sacrificing, right? I use this in the sense of giving something up as a tradeoff for something you want more, not in the sense of giving something up period. By recognising how awesome things are right now and how much better they’re getting (optimism), and also that by enduring discomfort you’re building up an internal fortitude that means you’ll be stronger later, you can be happy in your frugal living. Anyway, making good choices that will help you in the future won’t make you an unhappy person.
MMM’s also really good on noting that lowering your consumption is a good environmental choice. In more recent years, he’s explicitly stated that his goal is not just helping people get their finances into better shape, but convincing people to stop wasting so many of the earth’s resources, in a very broad sense.
I was actually trying to think of a few criticisms of MMM to make this article less of a glowing review, but none are really jumping at me just now. There is something that bothers me a little regarding the community that’s grown up in his forum, but I’m not going to hold the guy directly accountable for that. After all, holding people accountable for user-generated content on the net is usually a bad move.