Mr. Money Mustache — Living Beautifully on $25-27K Per Year


Photo credit: Mrs. Money Mustache

Photo credit: Mrs. Money Mustache

“You’re not supposed to optimize for money; you’re supposed to optimize for happiness.”
– Mr. Money Mustache (AKA Pete Adeney)

Mr. Money Mustache (@mrmoneymustache — Pete Adeney in real life) grew up in Canada in a family of mostly eccentric musicians. He graduated with a degree in computer engineering in the 1990s and worked in various tech companies before retiring at age 30. Pete, his wife, and their now eleven-year-old son live near Boulder, Colorado, and have not had real jobs since 2005.

This begs the question of “How?” In essence, they accomplished this early retirement by optimizing all aspects of their lifestyle for maximal fun at minimal expense, and by using basic index-fund investing. Their average annual expenses total a mere $25-27,000, and they do not feel in want of anything.

Since 2005, all three of them have explored a free-form life of interesting projects, side-businesses, and adventures.

In 2011, Pete started writing the Mr. Money Mustache blog about his philosophy, which has grown to reach about 23 million different people (and 300 million page views) since its founding. It has become a worldwide cult phenomenon, with a self-organizing community and incredible news coverage. This episode explores his story, philosophies, and routines.


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Want to hear another podcast about earning and saving wealth? — In this episode with Ramit Sethi, we dig into the nitty-gritty tools, software, and experiments he’s used to turn a college side project into a multi-million-dollar business with 30+ employees. (stream below or right-click here to download):

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

Connect with Mr. Money Mustache (AKA Pete Adeney):

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Early Retirement Extreme
The Rideau Canal Skateway and BeaverTails in Ottawa
FinCon Expo
The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement
What is a Vanguard index fund?
Great News — Early Retirement Doesn’t Mean You’ll Stop Working
Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert
Top 10 Cars for Smart People
How to Carry Major Appliances on Your Bike
Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design by Charles Montgomery
Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance
The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz
Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger
Dune by Frank Herbert
Gratitude by Oliver Sacks
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakes
Less Is More: An Anthology of Ancient & Modern Voices Raised in Praise of Simplicity by Goldian VandenBroeck
The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss
The Scold: Mr. Money Mustache’s Retirement (Sort of) Plan. by Nick Paumgarten, The New Yorker
The Life-Style Guru of Frugality (Pete’s point-by-point rebuttal to the above New Yorker profile)
Better, Faster, Stronger: Silicon Valley’s Self-Help Guru by Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker (my own equally imperfect profile in the same magazine)
Will MacAskill on Effective Altruism, Y Combinator, and Artificial Intelligence
Kevin Kelly: AI, Virtual Reality, and The Inevitable
A DIY Case Study: Building a Fancypants Detached Studio
Getting Started in Carpentry — Tools of the Trade
Books by John C. Bogle
The Simple Path to Wealth: Your Road Map to Financial Independence and a Rich, Free Life by J.L. Collins
Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence by Vicki Robin, Joe Dominguez, and Monique Tilford
The Smartest Investment Book You’ll Ever Read: The Proven Way to Beat the “Pros” and Take Control of Your Financial Future by Daniel R. Solin
The Little Book That Still Beats the Market by Joel Greenblatt
The Big Secret for the Small Investor: A New Route to Long-Term Investment Success by Joel Greenblatt
You Can Be a Stock Market Genius: Uncover the Secret Hiding Places of Stock Market Profits by Joel Greenblatt
Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises by Timothy F. Geithner
More Money Than God: Hedge Funds and the Making of a New Elite by Sebastian Mallaby
Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis
Picking Warren Buffett’s Brain: Notes from a Novice (about my time at the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting)
What is the S&P 500 Index?
Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Timothy Ferriss
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
When Energy Saving Becomes an Emergency
Mr. Money Mustache’s Big Mistake
7 Reasons to Eat More Saturated Fat
Happiness is the Only Logical Pursuit
Moral Letters to Lucilius Letter 18: On Festivals and Fasting

Show Notes

Pete describes a typical trip to the grocery store. [06:28]
What are the average annual expenses for Pete’s family of three? [07:52]
When was the moment Pete realized he had such a devoted fan base? [08:39]
Is Pete a cult leader? [11:17]
If so, what are the tenets of Mustachianism? [12:30]
Pete talks about retiring at age 30. [13:49]
The math behind why you only need twenty-five times your annual spending to retire forever. [14:51]
Why most people who retire early still work — by choice. [17:28]
What misconceptions about Pete’s message are most common among critics and the media? [18:42]
What did Pete have for breakfast? [21:08]
Optimizing happiness on a personal level vs. succumbing to what society says will make you happy. [22:04]
Why spend more on a car than you would for investing in your future? [24:33]
Influential and recommended books. [28:19]
Is there a difference between Pete Adeney and Mr. Money Mustache? [35:05]
As a native Canadian, why does Pete choose to live in the United States? [36:54]
Pete responds to the New Yorker profile about him. [39:15]
Some thoughts on the math behind saving time and deciding which resources are worth consuming. [40:50]
When his expenses remain stable, what happens to the surplus money Pete saves? [44:53]
On removing negatives vs. adding positives: what are the questions Pete asks himself when making a purchasing decision? [46:33]
A recent happiness-boosting expenditure. [49:01]
We agree with Kevin Kelly about the rewards of manual labor. [50:54]
How does deciding to become a parent influence the math behind personal consumption? [55:03]
Pete and his wife pay their son for each mile he rides his bike (with interest on what he decides not to spend). [57:24]
Recommended resources for investing and personal finance. [59:49]
Who comes to mind when Pete hears the word “successful?” [1:11:38]
What are some of the luxuries Pete’s family enjoys — and which had the most positive impact on their lives? [1:15:16]
Favorite documentaries and movies. [1:17:36]
If Pete gave a TED Talk on something for which he’s not known, what would the topic be? [1:18:43]
What does Pete’s exercise regimen look like? [1:20:01]
Bad frugal/financial advice heard most often. [1:23:01]
Favorite failure? [1:25:31]
Without donating or investing it, how would Pete selfishly spend $100,000? [1:32:35]
What would Pete’s billboard say? [1:34:45]
Pete’s biggest challenge at the moment. [1:36:12]
In the last few years, is there anything Pete has significantly changed his mind about? [1:40:43]
Parting thoughts and a request to try voluntary hardship. [1:42:03]

People Mentioned

Jacob Lund Fisker
Daniel Gilbert
David J. Schwartz
Stephen Key
Will MacAskill
Kevin Kelly
Pablo Picasso
Ferris Bueller
John C. Bogle
Jim Collins
Warren Buffett
Joel Greenblatt
Tiger Woods
Charlie Munger
Neil deGrasse Tyson

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