What does cycling have to do with “early retirement” – the bike-filled manifesto of Mr Money Mustache

14 Jun

I cannot remember exactly how I stumbled upon his blog, but Mr Money Mustache (MMM) is an American fellow who is married, has a kid, and retired from the rat race at a very young age. Before I stumbled across his blog I had no idea that these kinds of ‘early retirement’ money blogs existed. They are many, and they are varied.

Mr Money Mustache’s manifesto or philosophy is based around reducing costs while saving 50% of your income from working. He reckons that you really shouldn’t spend money that you earned yourself – only money that your money has earned for you (i.e returns on bonds, stocks, real estate etc).

The reason I like him so much is that cycling is a cornerstone to his cost-saving strategies, both in reducing transport costs and increasing your own health and wellness. Health is a big deal in the United States because of the tendency for health issues to result in big costs (really, you can’t just go on a waiting list and get a public hospital to fix you for free).

The value for me, is that he constantly reminds his readers that they do not need to spend big dollars on things to make themselves ‘happy’. This probably also applies to my habit of spending far too much on bicycles and associated accessories! Obviously, being in the States some of his investment strategies don’t add up for Aussies, but the anti-consumerist message definately rings true for me.

Here are some of my favorite posts of his, specifically regarding bicycles, cars and consumption from oldest to newest:

Get Rich With… Bikes

The fundamental reason for the Bike’s status as the Greatest Invention of All Time is its unique combination of simplicity, efficiency, and incredibly good health benefits.

But another side effect is that bikes are good for your wealth. Let’s start with the bare minimum: any mileage you put on your bike instead of your car saves you about 50 cents per mile in gas, depreciation, and wear and maintenance. From this savings alone, doing a couple of bike errands per day (4 miles) in place of car errands will add up to $10,752 over ten years.

Mustache on the Move: Am I really the Most Badass Person in my Whole Town?

After considering all the alternatives, the only rational explanation I could come up with, for the fact that I biked to the store while everyone else drove, even in the most perfect imaginable bicycling conditions, is this: Mr. Money Mustache must be the Single Most Badass person in Longmont, Colorado.

This happens to me frequently when I ride to Midland or even to IKEA to buy something like bedsheets, or order something that will be delivered cos it wouldn’t fit in my car anyway (the custom made couch in our living room comes to mind).

Get Rich with….Craigslist

…not only should you use Craigslist instead of a retail store to buy every manufactured thing you need. You can also use it as a free way to “store” your unused goods. I didn’t hesitate to sell my papasan chairs today, because I know if I ever need them back, I can open up Craigslist and find plenty more just like them at any point in the future.

This post has me thinking about reducing my bicycle stash. There are plenty of bits and pieces that I have sitting around for projects that just aren’t progressing. A lot of it is easy enough to replace. I really should just get rid of it all now.

The True Cost of Commuting

I don’t think Australians are as insane about car-commuting as some Americans are, but there’s potential for it to happen with people moving further out into the suburbs in order to own a little-used backyard and two car garage (though I’ll admit a two-car garage would be useful for me for the storage of kayaks and bicycles!)

Muscle over Motor

Because of the power of Muscle over Motor, you should be deeply suspicious of anything with a motor. A motor represents a shortcut to getting something done. That sounds good on the surface, but you must consider what you are shortcutting.

Maybe one of those manual push-reel mowers is in my future. It will take up less space than a petrol mower to start with, which is why I sold my last one when we moved. Having a hand-mower to maintain the street verge and the grass in our small yard would probably be practical and sensible enough.

You Can’t Cure Obesity with Bigger Pants

put those damned tight pants on and keep wearing them. When they bite at you, it’s a reminder to take the stairs instead of the elevator, eat a piece of grilled salmon instead of a chocolate bar and bologna sandwich, and to start walking and biking more. Those tight pants are your biggest ally in addressing the underlying problem – if you give them up, you’ll be allowed to forget what the real problem is: your lifestyle has become unhealthy and you’re doing everything with a dull saw!

Safety is an expensive illusion

Here he looks at the ‘small car’ arguement, and biking vs driving in a sort of safety cost/benefit analysis. I only wish that people at work would apply this to their Occupational Health & Safety mantra which sees the building stairwells permanently locked in case someone trips and lodges a Workers’ Compensation claim!

Anyway, there is a lot of stuff on his blog and I found it all very interesting. It’s an insight into how irrational an ultra-consumerist society can become. MMM is an eternal optimist though and he offers constructive suggestions to solve problems around debt and over-spending.

1 Comment

Posted by on June 14, 2012 in Reasons to Ride


One response to “What does cycling have to do with “early retirement” – the bike-filled manifesto of Mr Money Mustache

  1. Velophile Australia

    August 16, 2013 at 8:55 am

    I just spent the past hour reading his site and saw the pingback to here. It’s definitely sensible advice and it seems strange to me, being the ultimate frugal living and money saving person, that this sort of thing exists and isn’t common knowledge for all people.. 😉


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