Getting Rich: from Zero to Hero in One Blog Post
Hi there. If we haven’t met, my name is Mr. Money Mustache. I’m the freaky financial magician who retired along with a lovely wife at age 30 in order to start a family, as well as start living a great life. We did this on two normal salaries with no lottery winnings or Silicon Valley buyout windfalls, by living what we thought was a wonderful and fulfilling existence. It was only after quitting the rat race that we looked around and realized why we had become financially independent while most people, even with higher incomes, end up stuck needing to work until age 65.
I figured a post like this was long-overdue, since about half of the readers of the blog are pretty new, and casting around wondering where to start on a giant blog like this with over 300 published articles. Then we can stick this article up in the menu for all future rounds of newcomers.
“I hear Mr. Money Mustache writes some useful stuff and many people are building happy, wealthy lives for themselves using his advice”, they are saying, “but I am a busy person. How can he make me rich Right Now!?”
Great question. Let’s begin.
For almost two years, I’ve been preaching a different brand of financial advice from what you see in the newspapers and magazines. The standard line is that life is hard and expensive, so you should keep your nose to the grindstone, clip coupons, save hard for your kids’ college educations, and save any tiny slice of your salary that remains into a 401(k) plan. And pray that nothing goes wrong in the 40 years of career work that it will take to get yourself enough savings to enjoy a brief retirement.
Mr. Money Mustache’s advice? Almost all of that is nonsense: Your current middle-class life is an Exploding Volcano of Wastefulness, and by learning to see the truth in this statement, you will easily be able to cut your expenses in half – leaving you saving half of your income. Or two thirds, or more. Sound like a fantasy? Not to readers of this blog.
What happens when you can save more of your income? As it turns out, spending much less than you earn is the way to get rich. The ONLY way. And the effects are surprising: if you can save 50% of your take-home pay starting at age 20, you’ll be wealthy enough to retire by age 37. If you already have some assets now, you’re even closer than that. If you can save 75%, your working career is only 7 years.
So remember my freaky magician story up in the first paragraph? There was not really any magic – I just saved about 66% of my pay without really noticing it, and in under ten years I woke up and realized I didn’t have to work for a living any more. Our son was born shortly afterwards, and he recently had his seventh birthday party. And we’re still going strong.
But how can you save so much?
The bottom line is this: by focusing on happiness itself, you can lead a much better life than those who focus on convenience, luxury, and following the lead of the financially illiterate herd that is the TV-ad-absorbing Middle Class of the United States today (and most of the other rich countries). Happiness comes from many sources, but none of these sources involve car or purse upgrades. No matter what the herd or the TV set tells you, this is the truth. Far from being a social outcast, this new perspective will make you a hero among your friends. This is not a fringe activity anymore – millions of people are fixing their lives these days. And the earlier you can accept it, the sooner you will be rich.
Is that all too fluffy and philosophical? OK, fine. Here’s how to cut your life costs in half. Start by getting rid of your Debt Emergency if you have one. 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. Cancel your TV service. Stop wasting money on groceries. Give your kids the opportunity to achieve greatness without being pampered. Lose the overpriced cell phones. Learn to appreciate the life-boosting joy of using your own body to get things done. Learn to mock convenience. Practice optimism.
That should do it – about half of your expenses, gone in one paragraph. Keep going, as many readers do, and you can save closer to 75% of what you make – especially for those with above average incomes.
But then what do I do with all the money?
You invest it. In stock index funds, in paying off your own house, in rental houses if you are interested in local real estate, and in other sources as you continue to learn about making money work for you. My own retirement income comes from a dead-simple asset allocation: one high-end rental house with no mortgage, and some 401(k) and taxable stock accounts which pay quarterly dividends. More recently I have started experimenting with peer-to-peer lending for higher returns on a small percentage of the portfolio, but that’s another story.
How long will the money last?
If you can get 25 times your annual spending saved up and working for you, that is enough to live off – forever. Don’t worry about the details – just do the saving for now, and watch as your lifestyle transforms and your worries about safety melt away. This blog is not so much a financial nuts-and-bolts blog as it is a story about lifestyle and attitude transformation. And believe it or not, your attitude determines your lifetime wealth much more than your knowledge of financial nuts and bolts.
So welcome! I’m glad you’re here, and let’s get started. For the long-time readers – let’s keep going!
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