Mr. Money Mustache » Mrs Money Mustache Early Retirement through Badassity Wed, 01 Apr 2015 12:00:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 You’ll Never Be Normal Again: My Terrifying Trip to Dairy Queen Fri, 27 Jul 2012 12:00:13 +0000 by Mrs. Money Mustache

Once again I am making an unauthorized post on MMM, as he is currently out in the wilderness, far from the Internet.  Beware, as this post has not been edited by my better half.  Improper paragraph formatting and poor grammar may lie ahead.  Sorry honey.

You’ll never be normal again” is the slogan on the t-shirts at TwinFreaks Crossfit.  I really like this saying as it implies that you’ve gone beyond Normal into the territory of the Totally Awesome and that this Awesomeness has been triggered by some kind of monumental discovery.

I’m not even close to awesome, but to some extent I was beginning to feel normal in my own little world.  In my every day life I’m surrounded by like minded friends.  Over time, the people that I am close to have ended up being people with similar values and outlook on life that I have found.  Of course, I still run into many that follow a more conventional path, but I only see bits and pieces of these different lifestyles.

And then there’s the Mustachians.  They just keep coming out of the woodwork and are some of the most motivating and inspiring folks I’ve met.  When you’re surrounded by Mustachians every day in comments and in the forum, you kind of start believing that maybe you’re not all that different.  In fact, you might have a long way to go before you’re even close to being as Awesome as everyone else.

My Terrifying Trip to Dairy Queen was my reality check.  I am different and in fact, I might be downright weird.

Location: My hometown of Ottawa, Canada.

My parents suggest an outing to the movie theater to watch a 3D movie with little MM.  The movie theater is a 30 minute walk away.  We drive.  No big deal.  I’m relaxed about the whole thing.

We get to the movie early and lo and behold, it’s quite empty.  A nice surprise for a big city like Ottawa!  I cringe through a bunch of ads and movie trivia as people start filing in with their giant bags of overpriced popcorn.  I’m not even thinking about how anti-mustachian this scene is, because I am enjoying it from a different perspective.  I can’t remember the last time I was at a super fancy movie theater like this one about to watch a 3D movie.  My parents are footing the bill, which is a bonus (incidentally, the cost of the tickets is $52.96 CAD for three adults and one child), and all the Neon and Glamor of this night out is making me feel a bit dizzy and hazy.  It’s like being at a movie theater for the first time and it seems pretty cool and futuristic.  This feeling of experiencing things from a new perspective is one of the huge bonuses of a low-key lifestyle, by the way.

After the movie, we watch the credits and are rewarded by a little bonus scene at the end.  This is an MMM family tradition.  Almost everyone has left the theater and little MM comments that they “all totally missed out”.  They sure did.  I guess they’re on to the next big thing… and so are we, apparently.

My Dad is getting antsy.  He has a secret evil plan in the works: A surprise trip to Dairy Queen!! The following ridiculous quotes ensue:

– it’s “on the way”
– you always NEED ice cream after a movie, right?
– you only live once
– yeah, there might be a closer one, but this is the one we always go to

We drive and drive and drive (Google maps shows the trip as 4.2 km in the opposite direction of the house with an estimated 11 minute drive time one way).  The entire time I am sitting there nearly hyperventilating with every extra minute of driving.  My heart is racing and I am getting all stressed out.  What is wrong with me?  This isn’t normal.  People go to Dairy Queen sometimes.  I’ve even taken my kid to Dairy Queen once or twice.  Why am I suddenly freaking out?

I suppose I had reached some kind of threshold and my happy haze of the night had finally worn off.  This little detour wasn’t part of the original plan.  It’s like buying a magazine by the check out line at the grocery store, except that instead of buying it while you’re there, you drive 4.2 km to the next grocery store to buy it.  It’s an impulse purchase and it was being presented as some kind of special treat to my child.  But wait, we already had our special treat: The Movie!!  Duh.

But wait, there’s more.

We finally arrive and I look around.  We managed to secure the last spot in a dingy, cramped parking lot.  Our headlights illuminate the 50-something couple eating their ice creams in the car parked in front of us.  They are staring at us like silent Canadians caught eating ice cream in headlights.  It’s eerie.

We line up to order.  There’s a machine that generously takes your coins in exchange for watching the coin take a roller coaster ride into the DQ abyss.  The grandparents happily hand little MM a few coins to pass the time.  It’s a long wait but we persevere.  With ice creams and their assorted disposable accompaniments in hand, we proceed to the parking lot to find a seat on the curb.  We choose a well lit location next to a giant truck that smells like gasoline, since all the other good curb spots are taken.  We eat our ice creams without a word.  Little MM is full.  I finish his cup and am surprised to find the ice cream tastes like crap.  Is this fun?  Is this what I’m missing out on?  This sucks.  Maybe everyone realizes it too, so we decide to head home.

As we’re driving home, my Dad turns to me and says: “I just need to make one more stop.”

Are you experiencing anti-mustachian anxiety as well?  Tell us your story!



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Mrs. Money Mustache Remembers Wed, 08 Feb 2012 16:43:29 +0000 It looks like we’ve just passed the ten month anniversary of this blog and are creeping up towards one year.  Just like with having a child, in some ways it went by quickly and in other ways it seems like this baby has been around forever.  The best part is the community that has been built here and I promise that soon you’ll have an even better way of sharing ideas through the forum (once I get this security and pharma hack thing handled).

Thanks to all of you for being supremely awesome.

Today I’m doing an unauthorized post on the blog while MMM snowboards in Tahoe.  I guess you could say that I’m hacking the MMM site.

As Mrs. MM, I have heard MMM preach the Word for years (nearly 18 years, to be precise), yet somehow these articles sometimes resonate with me more than hearing him tell me in person that I should be biking.  Some of my favorite posts are from the earlier days, so I thought I’d post links to my 5 favorite articles and encourage everyone to look back and comment.

Let the good times roll!

1. What would the Native Americans Do? 
I read this when I need motivation to get off my butt and become a true badass.

2. The Coffee Machine that can Pay for a University Education 
Ramit — are you reading this?

3. How much is that bitch costin’ ya? 

4. Frugality as a Muscle

5. A Millionaire is Made Ten Bucks at a Time

My Favorite MMM Quote: “…And we both believe that the modern world is an Absolutely Excellent place, a dense and flowery jungle completely packed with Mangoes of Opportunity that spray their Juices in our Faces every time we take another muscular step through the foliage.”


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Eliminate your dependence on foreign (and domestic) clothing Fri, 14 Oct 2011 12:11:28 +0000 Eliminating Lady Temptations: Step 4 (see other steps)
by Mrs. Money Mustache

This past weekend, MMM brought a big box up to our bedroom.  It contained clothing we had packed away into boxes way back in June, just before our trip to Canada, as we rented our house this past summer and wanted to clear out some of the clutter for our incoming tenants.  As I started sorting through this box to put things away, I suddenly felt defeated.  With clothing piled high all around me, clothing I hadn’t even looked at in months, I felt the excess of my younger years coming back to haunt me.

I don’t want all this stuff!  It’s too much.  A normal person does not need this much clothing!  I looked around at all the shirts, yoga pants, and sports bras and remembered all the random purchases I had made back when I thought that moving to Boulder and having a new active lifestyle meant buying new stuff.

What struck me at that moment is just how much I have changed.

Between the ages of 25 and 29, I spent a LOT more money than I do now, even while I thought I was being frugal.  We “only” went out to eat once a week, we biked to work 3 times per week (and carpooled the remaining 2 days), and we were saving quite a bit.  But, after having “The Talk” with MMM (after minor arguments about some of my habits), I realized that my two big problem areas were books and clothing.  The books part was easily resolved: I started using the library and in the process found a new love.  The clothing part was a bit harder. I probably spent $50-100 per month, for several years, on this habit. When you add that up, it’s several thousand dollars of clothes and shoes that marched themselves into my closet.

Now, you might be thinking “if you have enough money, why is that a problem area?”  Well, it’s because we had a Goal.  We wanted to be financially secure before having a child, to the point of BOTH of us being able to stop working to raise our child.  This goal was very important to us, and this obsession with buying clothing was getting in the way of it. And being with my future child was much more important than owning a bunch of activewear.  Plus, I knew that my addiction to clothing was not making me happy in a lasting way, and was thus a self-defeating habit that I often regretted.

So, I stopped.  I just stopped buying clothes.  I had a lot to choose from, so I went through everything and created a wardrobe of things I liked.  I didn’t even give anything away yet – it was all still so new.  But, I actually looked at all of it and realized just how much I really had.  I pulled out everything that was hiding in drawers, stuff that I had put away in boxes, and I analyzed each item and decided whether it belonged in my closet and in my life.  Interestingly, a lot of it failed this test – even things I had bought recently (often online) were not getting worn, as they didn’t fit or were not practical.  What a waste!  Once I had it all in front of me, I realized I had Enough.  I could live the rest of my life with this wardrobe.

That doesn’t mean that temptation didn’t strike every  once in a while.  If I went to work and saw a friend with cute shoes, I’d start thinking that maybe I deserved some cute shoes too.  But, instead of just going online to find a deal on cute shoes and clicking “buy”, I would wait.  I would say: “If I still want this in two weeks, I will get it.”  Sometimes I’d even go online and add it to my shopping cart (sometimes just that simple act was enough to make me get over it, although I wouldn’t recommend it as it can lead to disaster).  But sure enough, I found that the two weeks would pass without me even thinking about the shoes. I simply forgot and was on to something else, which I then forgot about in two more weeks.  My two week policy matured to became one month and more, and recently I waited 6 months before buying a new pair of pants.

But back to Olden Days Me: Eventually, I quit my job in Boulder and started working from home.  At that point, my urge to buy clothing completely went away.  I now had too much clothing and never had the opportunity to wear any of it.  I was finally brave enough to give a lot of it away and felt really good about the fact that people who really needed it would be using it.

For MMM, it’s easy to avoid buying clothing or pretty much anything else.  He literally feels mental pain when purchasing something and considers it for a very long time (often after writing out a sheet of equations).  For me, it was a lot harder and I had to slowly change my perspective on things.  The longer I do it, the easier it becomes and it is absolutely a life changing experience.

I have a long way to go.  I still make excuses to drive occasionally, even though I know I am perfectly capable of biking (and strangely, every time I bike I feel fantastic, so why do I even make excuses?).  I still live an incredibly lavish life and feel like I should be doing more to reduce my environmental footprint and correspondingly increase my happiness.  But, I’ve got it pretty good.  I am happier than I have ever been in my life and it all started that day when I decided to stop buying and start living.

So, as I sat there with all that clothing around me, the internal weeping turned to laughter.  My son came running into the room to see what was going on and we piled the clothes up high and started throwing them around and jumping into the pile.  Ultimately, by eliminating my clothing habit, I gained time with my child.  And, the value of that time is priceless.


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Mrs. Money Mustache: What do newborn babies really need? Fri, 09 Sep 2011 12:23:17 +0000 Eliminating Lady Temptations: Avoid the Urge to Buy for Baby
by Mrs. Money Mustache

Congratulations!  You’re having a baby!

Ah, babies… so small, so cute, so sweet, so…. expensive? Why is there a common misconception that having a baby costs a ton?  How much does it really cost? Answer: not much.

Yet, us ladies just love to shop for babies.  We must prepare.  We are nesting.  We’re not ready for the baby to come yet!  The room decals we ordered have not arrived, the special nursing glider is not assembled, the room hasn’t been painted with fancy pink stripes… what will the baby think? Why do we spend more time thinking about buying and decorating (supposedly for the baby) rather than the actual task at hand: preparing for labor?

For you second, third, or fourth+ time moms, stop reading right now.  You don’t need anything.  No arguments — nothing.

If this is your first baby, you’re mostly going to have to get mentally prepared.  That is the hard part. The actual objects you need for said baby are pretty minimal.

So, what did we do?  I am the type of person that researches everything, so naturally, I researched the matter.  What I found is that the Internet, my friends, and those scary things known as baby shower lists, grossly exaggerated what was needed.  First of all, it’s quite possible that you might have friends who have young children themselves. They might already have enough hand-me-downs to take you through the whole first year.  I’m sure it’s easy to spend $0 on your baby.  Perhaps it’s even possible to spend negative dollars!

Challenge Idea: if you do need to make a few purchases for an upcoming baby, try getting it from friends and from various used sources. And then sell some extra stuff you have lying around your house for the same amount of money.  Voila!  Zero dollar baby.

Here’s what your newborn baby needs:

1. Diapers

Sadly, babies are not born knowing how to use the toilet. So we choose between cloth or disposable diapers.  (Side Note: Look up Elimination Communication or check out if you’re really advanced).  For us, using cloth was a no-brainer.  I spent hours researching cloth diapers and it seemed confusing at first, but it is actually extremely easy.  People complain that it is complicated, that they have to wash them, that they leak, that it’s gross… get over it!  You’re going to get shit on your hands either way.  Once you find the right kind of diapers, it’s easy …

The Mrs. Recommends: Get a variety of cloth diapers for age 0-6 months. This helps you figure out what kind you like. Don’t get sucked up in the cuteness of cloth!  You can spend a ton. Keep it simple, be successful. I purchased: 10 prefold diapers, 6 “Kissaluvs” contour diapers, about 4 covers for all these, 1 “Fuzzi Bunz” pocket diaper, 1 all in one diaper, and a couple of others. TIP: Prefolds work great as burp cloths too.

When your baby hits 6 months, sell the newborn diapers and buy the kind you like for the next stage.  The MMM family used 14 Medium Sized Fuzzi Bunz diapers from 5 months until our son was potty trained at just over the age of 2. For overnight accident protection, we used cloth until nighttime toilet training was reached… no pull-ups required!

At that point, we sold the 14 Fuzzi Bunz for half their original price.  It was a great investment overall, saving over a thousand dollars in disposables! Look for used cloth diapers, if possible, and re-sell once you’re done with them.

2. A Place to Sleep

When I was born, I slept in a little pink bathtub. Cozy and just the right size. When our son was born, he slept in a fancy co-sleeper attached to our bed. Your baby can also sleep in your bed, as ours ended up doing on most nights. The key, in my opinion, is that the baby is close to you to make nighttime feedings easier and to allow you to get as much sleep as possible. Your newborn baby does not need their own room or a crib, since they are so small. Your baby does not need fancy bedding.

The Mrs. Recommends: If I had to do it over again, I would have skipped the co-sleeper and had the baby sleep in bed with us.  But, if that’s not an option for you, I would suggest using a Pack ‘N Play with Bassinet instead of the co-sleeper. After a quick search, the Graco Pack ‘N Play Playard and Bassinet seems to fit the bill. The secret here is that the “Playard” is not for playing — it’s a place for your toddler to sleep on the go, probably up to about age 2. Handy dandy. It’s simple and takes care of your baby’s sleeping needs for quite a long time. You easily can bring it to people’s houses and on trips. Plus, you can probably find one used.

3.  Clothing

There is absolutely NO need to buy new clothing for your baby. In all likelihood, you will get tons for free from friends that have already had babies. In our case, we literally received a Subaru Wagonful of clothing for ages 0-6 months. The parents were all too happy to get rid of it. It has since made the rounds to at least 10 other kids. If, for some reason, you don’t receive any free clothing, ask for it. If that doesn’t work, get some used from a consignment shop or buy bagfuls from craigslist. The point is, it is VERY easy to get used baby items. Our baby lived in footed PJs (he was born in January). I frankly saw no need for any other type of clothing, other than warmer stuff to throw on when we went outside. I’m not talking about a fancy baby winter coat here… I’m talking about blankets and body warmth. Your baby can fit inside your coat and would prefer to be there instead of in a stroller anyway.

The Mrs. Recommends: get all clothing used or from friends. There is no reason to buy a single stitch of new clothing for your baby.

4. A Carseat

If you drive, then it is required that you have a carseat. Most hospitals will check to make sure you have one before they discharge you. Many people will tell you that you need to get a new carseat, and I will not dispute this, as I understand their reasoning. However, we got a free carseat from a reliable  friend who told us it had never been in an accident. We used it sparingly for one year and passed it on to another friend. If you’re lucky enough to have your baby at home, or you can walk home from the hospital, you probably won’t need a carseat at all. We planned to walk home from the hospital, but an unplanned c-section foiled these glorious plans. Have I mentioned that I hate hospitals?

The Mrs. Recommends: get a reliable used carseat from a friend or if you can’t find one, buy a basic newborn carseat. Try not to drive around with your baby in the car very much. That’s the safest thing you can do for your baby.

5. Breastmilk or Formula

Breastmilk is free – hooray!! If things had turned out like I wanted, I would have breastfed my baby for 2 years. But, alas, due to our circumstances, we had to supplement with formula, so we bought formula and bottles. But, we only bought these things after our baby was born, as we originally didn’t expect to need them.

The Mrs. Recommends: Breastfeed your child, but be prepared for some potential struggles. Have resources set up BEFORE you have your baby. A reliable and friendly lactation consultant or contact information for La Leche is a great idea. If there are any problems early on, get help right away.

6. YOU!

Your baby needs you more than anything. If you can swing having at least 1 parent stay at home during the first 6 months of your child’s life (preferably longer), you not only save on daycare costs, but you give your child the greatest gift of all.

The Mrs. Recommends: have one (or both!) parents stay at home and save money on all the childcare expenses. Your baby gets YOU and you save money!  Win-win.

As a final summary, here’s what the MMM family used for our little one from 0-6 months.

  • mini co-sleeper (bought new) — this later made the rounds to 10+ kids — baby spent a lot of time in bed with us, so this was not really needed.
    • Cost: $130
  • little baby clothes, socks, blankets, assorted small toys (received free second hand from awesome friends) — these also made the rounds — again, we received a lot of clothing and only used a very small amount.
    • Cost: FREE
  • car seat (received free from friend) — given to a friend — we did drive occasionally, so this was needed.
    • Cost: FREE
  • maya wrap for carrying little one (bought used on craigslist) — sold on craigslist for $30 — we used this until our son was about 2 for walks, hikes, and around the house.
    • Cost: $40, Sold for $30, Net Cost: $10
  • about 20 cloth diapers, mostly new — sold for almost same price purchased.
    • Cost: $150, Sold for $150, Net Cost: $0
  • boppy pillow (received as gift) — re-gifted — we used this for breastfeeding as well as for lying down and sitting up
    • Cost: GIFT
  • bouncy chair (received free from friend) — given to a friend — our baby liked it a lot
    • Cost: FREE
  • baby bathtub (received as gift), although you use a small sink or simply bathe with your baby instead
    • Cost: GIFT

Total Cost: $320 – $180 sold = $140.

To be fair, we did end up renting a pump from the hospital and buying formula and a few bottles, but as I mentioned earlier, these were unexpected costs. We also had to pay for the actual birth of the baby, as insurance did not cover all costs. However, since we all have a unique situation and I’m hopeful that your birth and breastfeeding experience is better than mine, it is easier not to factor all of this in. In total, the cost was still minimal compared to what the average family spends. Anything else can be purchased (preferably used) on an as needed basis.

Bonus Challenge: Try and use less than we did.  It should be pretty easy.

Next time, we’ll chat about what babies don’t need. Months from now (as my articles are currently fairly sporadic), we might cover cloth diapers in more detail, the ridiculous tradition known as a “baby shower”, as well as what the 6 mo to 1 year old crew needs (again, not much).

Happy baby-making!

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Mrs. Money Mustache Receives Many Gifts for Her Birthday Wed, 03 Aug 2011 12:19:10 +0000 Eliminating Lady Temptations: Step 2   (see Step 1)
by Mrs. Money Mustache


I recently celebrated my birthday.  I turned 37.  The day started off lying in bed with my little boy, who turned his sweet face to me and gave me a morning hug and kiss and then wished me a happy birthday.  Perfect already.  Shortly thereafter, I received a call from my brother who sweetly reminded me that I am now officially in my late 30s.  Luckily, I’ve always loved birthdays and turning one year older.  I feel young, healthy, and happier than ever.  I know myself better, I feel a little bit wiser (mostly thanks to my gray hairs), and I’m learning what’s really important in life.  In the MMM family, we celebrate birthdays for at least a week, because well… why not?  Of course, the celebrating isn’t full of unwrapping and surprises, as is typical of many birthdays.  It’s about a lot more.

Over the years, I’ve heard many women complain that their spouse forgot their birthday or they didn’t receive the special necklace or diamond encrusted love ring that they were hoping for. “Where’s my $150 dinner at the fancy restaurant and my day at the spa… How could my sweetheart forget my Birthday Gift!?”

Stop doing this, ladies!  First of all, if you’re married or in a committed relationship, your financial futures are joined – so he’s spending YOUR money on the gift anyway.  Second, a gift doesn’t mean much if you have to ask for it.  Third, channel your Inner Lioness and give yourself the POWER to make your own birthday or holiday plans.  Why rely on someone else for your happiness?

I’m pretty outspoken about my birthday. If I want to receive any attention, I announce it like a countdown and if I determine that gifts are in order, I get them myself.  It’s more fun that way.  That’s how the Mother’s Day Garden Project began, as well as my annual birthday haircut.  Even the Mister decides he deserves a birthday gift from time to time.

Being married to MMM means that the gifts are different, but they are actually much, much better.  Over the last 17 years I’ve received: a big handmade wooden heart with a poem on the back, a Rock Shox suspension seat post for my mountain bike, handwritten letters and notes, a latte every single morning for the last 5+ years, equally shared parenting, garden boxes, various renovation projects done to my specifications, incredibly funny e-mails, a hike to the spot we were married every year on our wedding anniversary, and candlelit dinners (and even breakfasts!) every single day.

This year, the gifts were plentiful once again:

– waking up next to my sweet little boy’s sleeping face
– listening to my child’s awesome story of his dream within a dream
– a delicious morning cup of coffee and run (I mean an actual run, as in running) to the store to get milk just for me from MMM
– an amazing birthday breakfast from my mom (asparagus was involved)
– talking to my brother on the phone
– a luxury morning shower
– a cool after-rain walk with MMM to get my gluten-free birthday cake mix
– listening to my mom and son secretly making me a birthday cake
– a handmade birthday book and several cards from Little MM
– spending quality time at my parents’ beautiful cottage with family that we hardly ever get to see
– laying tile and chatting side by side with MMM, while Little MM enjoyed a paddleboat ride with his grandparents
– an impromptu birthday song mid-day
– looking though my baby photo albums with my dad
– sore muscles from my hardcore workout at Crossfit O-Town’s free Saturday morning class

It couldn’t have been any better.  So, if you’re expecting a birthday this year, make a list of what you’d like to do.  It could be a walk with the family, a trip to the library, time to write a list of goals, a hike with a friend, a dinner with cake at home, or a day all alone.  Start a birthday tradition.  Bake your birthday cake with your kids.  Do something that has meaning for you but doesn’t cost anything.  Or, if you’re feeling competitive, try a birthday challenge and get a group of friends or your family to partake.  At a recent extended family dinner, we discussed some great physical challenges for past and upcoming birthdays.  Excellent idea!

What do you want for your birthday?

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Mrs Money Mustache: Eliminating Lady Temptations Sun, 05 Jun 2011 14:39:27 +0000 Eliminating Lady Temptations
An Indefinite, Ongoing Series by Mrs. Money Mustache

Being a Lady myself, I’ve fallen prey to lady spending in the past and occasionally find myself suddenly “needing” lady things out of the blue. Such as cute shoes, for instance.  I have also witnessed many seemingly normal and intelligent women declare that they need to go in for a manicure ASAP because their nails simply look horrific! Egads!

It seems that ladies like to spend money on products and services that help them achieve a sense of belonging or importance in society.  Things that make them look good and feel good.  Things other women have.

I can understand the feeling.. but these usually end up being short-lived “feel good” purchases that are later regretted and could have been replaced by something else that is totally free.  Moreover, women often compliment each other on these purchases, therefore reinforcing these beliefs more and more.  Why do we do this to ourselves?

Case in point: I have quite a few gray hairs that I have chosen not to color.  I have had many, many women tell me that I need to get these taken care of pronto!  But yet I have had an equal number of men compliment me on my gray and tell me they think it is beautiful.  I think the men may have it right, for once.

And what about the children?  Yes, the children!  As mothers, what are we teaching our children?  In my opinion, we are teaching them something that is potentially very destructive: that we place a lot of value on how we look, that we will pay to look a certain way, and that we reward ourselves with services or products that help us look or feel good.  We are teaching our children to become consumers and that their very happiness depends on it! The existence of spas for little girls is proof enough that we have a serious epidemic going on here (look it up, they really do exist).

In this series, we will be discussing several tactics for eliminating lady temptations from our lives.  These lady temptations include, but are not limited to: spending on shoes, clothing, make-up, books, manicures/pedicures, massages, fancy outings, etc.

Before we start, let’s begin by addressing the original source of modern Lady Temptations: The Shopping Mall.

The best and easiest way to start your recovery from the Temptations is to NEVER, EVER go shopping just for fun… EVER.  If you are a recreational shopper, please stop immediately. There is no such thing as “Retail Therapy”. Go for a walk, pick some flowers, hug your family.  Get your groceries from a Grocery Store or a Farmer’s Market (not Target).  If you’re going to buy shoes (after establishing a definite need), go in and get the hell out.  Be efficient.

And now on to today’s lesson: make-up.

Step 1:  Eliminate your need for make-up

I’m the first to admit that I don’t know as much as some ladies about this substance.  I do know that some women love to buy it — often very expensive stuff that promises to reverse aging and turn you into the most beautiful woman in the world.  In fact, the plethora of available products for your skin and hair is mind-boggling.

But doesn’t make-up usually make you look older? And, wouldn’t putting a bunch of chemicals on your face actually be bad for your skin and potentially age it prematurely?  What about wearing a hat when it’s sunny? Wouldn’t that work better?

I have heard that make-up can help make a person feel good, but it is really just a mask that women wear.  Sure, I can understand wanting to hide a giant zit under some skin colored product, but even then, one tiny bottle of a product could last you a year or two, couldn’t it?  I once purchased a bottle of foundation in high school that lasted until I graduated college.  You make-up purists out there will yell at me and tell me that “foundation doesn’t last more than 6 months at room temperature!” Well, I’ve just proven you wrong.

What about blush?  Doesn’t everyone want a nice rosy glow?  Well, how about going for a run or doing a few push-ups before going out instead?  That’ll do the trick every time.  Do you want bright glowing eyes?  Get some sleep.  Red lips?  Give them a little nibble and you’ll be just fine.  Want to radiate from the inside out? Smile!

The funny thing is that most women buy make-up in order to feel and/or look better.  Personally, I feel like a fool when I wear make-up.  The only thing that makes me feel and look good is being clean and healthy.  Nothing makes you feel better than biking around town and getting a natural glow, washing your face, exercising, smiling, drinking lots of water, eating organic apples.  Try it.

Take inventory of your make-up right now.  You may have a lot more than you thought.  Tomorrow when you wake up, try not wearing any at all.  Go out for a brisk morning walk after a full 7-8 hours of beauty sleep.  Take a shower.  Drop and give me 20.  Smile.  Then, take a deep breath and just go.  Leave your mask behind.  Write in and tell me how you did.


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Mrs. Money Mustache: The Secret Life of Frugality Mon, 09 May 2011 15:09:58 +0000 —-
Introduction: Welcome to the first post by Mrs. Money Mustache herself. Long a lurker on this blog, she finally has some things to say to balance Mr. Money Mustache’s manly voice.
There are many people that dream of retiring early.  I was never one of those people.  The idea of retirement in my 30s didn’t make any sense to me as I was just starting out in an exciting new career in software.  When Mr. Money Mustache spoke of retirement, I would think to myself: “Why?”  I like my job.  I like going to work and hanging out with co-workers, some of who happen to be my friends.  I’m challenging my brain and feel good about things.  I am happy. 

You might feel the same way.  I’ve met many people that do.  They are happy working and for them, it’s a good life.  Why retire?  For me, the reason appeared when we were ready to start a family.  I became frugal and saved money so I could be home with my child.  It was a no-brainer, as they say.

Early retirement is not about having a lot of money.  It’s about having choices.  It’s about finding yourself.  You need to discard that old stuffy image of retirement where couples buy an RV and take up touring the country, or just sit around at home and occasionally play golf.  Early retirement is a lifestyle and it is unique for everyone.  Frankly, I don’t really like the words “early retirement”, as it doesn’t convey the true meaning.  For me, it was life-changing and unexpected.  It changed me in unthinkable ways.  It brought me all kinds of things: happiness, balance, change, freedom, time, travel, family, motherhood, and health.  But, most of all, I found myself.

When you’re in the midst of all of this money-saving, a change comes over you.  At first it’s subtle and you barely notice it, but after practicing all these Mustachian principles for a few years, you find yourself suddenly free from society’s expectations of you.  You’re in another realm altogether.  You don’t care if you wear the same pair of pants three days in a row.  You don’t care if you don’t know last night’s hockey scores.  You might actually start to feel sick in big department stores from all the excess.  And, you are beginning to feel happier.

It takes a while to reach this level of anti-consumption, but if you keep it up, you’ll get there.  And, when you do, things start to make a lot more sense.  Saving money becomes ridiculously easy.  You will suddenly realize why depression and health problems so often go along with debt problems.  You learn about yourself because you’ve shed your skin of consumer culture.  You’ve taken a step back and you can finally see yourself and everything around you much more clearly.  You figure out what matters and what doesn’t.  And, you learn this much earlier than most people which means you have the rest of your life to be happy. 

One of the best compliments I ever received was when a wise older woman told me that I had figured out what life was all about much earlier than most.  We all know what life’s really about in theory, but until you can truly separate yourself from how we’ve been molded by society, you don’t really get it.

It often strikes me as quite incredible that our culture could have gone a completely different route — one where there was a greater sense of community and less emphasis on money and spending.  It also amazes me that in many ways, the ways we used to live were much more satisfying.  When you hear stories or read books about people who have less, who are sometimes struggling to make ends meet, there is always a common thread: a sense of community.  Groups of women sitting around canning tomatoes together and laughing, kids running around outdoors inventing games, farmers tending to the fields and helping each other out.  This might not seem like your idea of a good time, but these kinds of activities and unity feed our souls.  We don’t get much of this anymore and when we do, it is often based in an activity that revolves around spending money. 

You don’t need to have money to discover this.  You don’t need to retire.  But, for me, becoming frugal in order to save money helped me discover this hidden secret of life.  I have found myself and have found a lifestyle that benefits me and my family.  I can teach my child early on that you don’t need money to be happy.  Not just by telling him about it, but by showing him.  I can choose hikes instead of manicures and camping trips instead of Disneyland, and I know that I am much happier for it.

You can live this secret life too!

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Having “The Talk” with a Current or Potential Mate Mon, 25 Apr 2011 21:11:41 +0000 My wife actually invented this post and I think it’s a great concept to write about.

You see, Mrs. Money Mustache* is an indispensable part of our shared empire of frugality. Believe it or not, she was generally just as excited as I was about making an extra payment on the mortgage. Or buying and selling stuff on Craigslist whenever possible instead of resorting to retail. And she’ll tend to cough just as loudly as I will when she hears about someone borrowing money to buy a new car, or driving somewhere that could easily biked comes up.

“Where can I find such a dream mate, for myself” you ask? You may already have one – read on!

When we were just a young couple, we carried along the financial habits from our earlier lives. I was pretty much the way I am now, but young Miss M. was more of a normal person. When we moved to Colorado and she landed a good job, she celebrated the new lifestyle by acquiring a taste for stylish outdoor active clothing. And a latte and snack each workday at the coffee shop near work. And the odd book from when interesting titles came along. Even I got into the spirit of things, celebrating a job upgrade of my own with a gleaming new motorcycle in 2001. We felt separate financially – each of us felt we were doing well, but we didn’t really have any joint goals.

The problem was, those packages from Athleta and Amazon kept coming, even when she already had every season covered with sharp gear options. So did the books. The lattes and snacks weren’t going anywhere since you need one each day. And the $10,000 motorcycle soon depreciated to $5000 even though it only had a few thousand miles on it.

So one day we had the Talk. It was a talk about our future, how we both seemed so busy with work, yet we hoped to have children in a few years. I was already into the idea of living off of investments someday, so I threw out the idea of retiring early.. as in BEFORE starting a family. Was it possible? Some simple math showed that it definitely was (see the later post called “The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement” for some of the numbers).

Then we dug out the last year worth of credit card statements. This woman has a thing for spreadsheets, so every category of expenses was totaled in various ways. What we learned is something that probably applies to most people: we were spending way more than expected on seemingly very small things. Like $700 per year on fancy coffee, and over a grand on clothing despite the fact that our closets were already full when we started. Books were several hundred per year too.

But it’s hard to give up fun and reading is great – the key was that we noticed ways to get the same enjoyment with drastically less spending. We could get the same books from the LIBRARY. We probably didn’t actually need more clothing, especially if we would be quitting the jobs soon. We still liked restaurants, but maybe they could be a special occasion rather than a daily habit.

Now here’s the golden nugget of this post: At that moment, a switch flipped in my future wife’s mind and she was suddenly very excited about becoming a Mrs. Money Mustache herself. “Who wouldn’t give up a few books and clothes and lattes if it meant getting to work less while you have kids!?“, she asked.

The second neat cash catalyst was showing her how to set up her own investment accounts on I had already been stashing money away in my account there for a year or two, but once she had her own and was able to start transferring in paychecks, everything took off. I started getting nightly reports of the deposits and stock performance, and we’d compare our “net worth” summaries on the website.

Ever since the magic switch, our agreement on family finances has been golden. There are no arguments over money if you both share the same philosophy and goals. And now as parents of a young child, things are much less stressful when there are no worries over budget or lack of available time to spend with him.

It’s also nice to have such a complicated common interest. We can talk for hours about future plans, how to be able to afford them by being even more frugal or shuffling money this way or that, and about how incredibly bright things are looking in general. It would probably sound pretty mundane and self-congratulatory to an outsider, but it beats arguing about who didn’t do the dishes.

So if you want to move quickly with your own wealth plans, you’ll need buy-in from your own little Mister or Missus.

If you’re single, you also have lots going for you too – low expenses, free time to put in overtime for extra earnings if you enjoy your job, and the potential to go to Hardcore Black Belt frugality modes that married people could only dream of, like keeping the furnace off until December or having back-to-back Buy-Nothing months.

But unless you remain single forever, you too might want to prepare for The Talk eventually, and think about how any potential mates would respond if you do whip out the big Money Mustache on them at some point in the relationship.
*(it is a sign of ultimate respect that she earns this title).

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