148 comments

Weekend Edition: Why are you Writing this Blog, Anyway?

earthWow, that post about the Internet Retirement Police really stirred up some controversy! We had a wide variety of comments, ranging from those egging on Mr. Money Mustache, to those shooting him down for overstepping his reach by suggesting that we change the dictionary.

“Sure, if we call you ‘Retired’ as you insist, will you stop publishing dud articles like this?”, said one guy

“Now that you’ve successfully redefined retirement, it’s time to tackle hubris”, said another.

Behind the scenes, things got even messier, with accusations of insanity, cowardice, and other smelly stuff.

While I’m quite pleased to have such high emotions on tap in the normally bland media of a personal finance blog, I thought it might be helpful to pull back the secret velvet curtain for a moment so those who are confused by posts like yesterday’s can understand what’s really going on. After all, at any given moment, the majority of readers on a site like this are relative newcomers.

You see, while it may occasionally appear so from a brief skimming of the text, Mr. Money Mustache is not really a Smug Asshat, as has been presumed in Hacker News comments. In real life, I don’t think I’m an extraordinary man or even much of a badass.  But this blog is about living life with gusto, and part of that involves a vibrant portrayal of life itself.

Don’t get me wrong – It’s all real, and this is truly how I try to live these days. For example, every meal to me is a Feast, every evening is a Celebration, and every night I crash into bed like the Hometree and sleep like a Thousand Babies. That shows up in the writing style as well, where the Superlatives sparkle so intensely that they occasionally capitalize themselves, and the detractors of the Mustachian lifestyle are mortal foes, flopping around tragically in pools of their own drool and urine, and so in need of satirical mocking that we can barely figure out where to start our descriptive sentences.

But why am I writing about it in such a polarizing way? Why do I need to write about it at all? Does Mr. Money Mustache feel compelled to defend his lifestyle by writing constant explanations and feeling threatened any time someone speaks out against it?

No, silly. In real life, it’s not about trying to look good to the world, or chopping down the comments of naysayers. You should know by now that I love efficiency and optimization. If I wanted to prevent people from writing mean stuff about me, I would simply use the amazing time-saving technique of not having a blog.

I don’t really care what the Internet Retirement Police say about early retirees. In fact, other than a few tasty morsels that people point out to me, I don’t even know what is being said because I don’t read other blogs and forums – this one already takes up more than enough time.

It’s also not about trying to make money or sell things – Sure, I’ve enjoyed the experience of learning how to create some earnings as a self-publishing writer, but it is not what keeps the blog alive.

The real reason this blog exists, is simply to save the entire human race from destroying itself through overconsumption.

That’s a pretty short mission statement for such a big goal, but you gotta keep it simple, right? And although I fully acknowledge that it sounds crazy (in fact, I describe it that way to make it sound as crazy as possible), it just might be more feasible than either of us think.

Let’s break it down to see what’s really going on:

  • I stumbled upon a lifestyle that is both incredibly satisfying and extremely rare in this country.
  • It turns out that this lifestyle works well for other people as well, not just me.
  • It also turns out that if everyone embraced it even in the slightest, it could solve most of humanity’s problems.
  • As an added bonus, I find it extremely fun to write about all of this.

So obviously, I’m going to start writing down some shit, right? Which is exactly what happened in April, 2010.

Interestingly enough, the message started catching on. People started transforming, and word started spreading. It became an exponential trend, and a very good one. You could even say Mustachians exhibit some cult-like behavior, which is true for almost every movement that spreads rapidly through society.

What creates a cohesive movement? While not realizing it at the beginning, some of the properties of this blog were pressing the cult buttons that are built into most of us. A relentlessly confident and optimistic ‘leader’. A sense of identity among members, and an “Us versus Them” game that allows our more badass lifestyle to be a mark of pride for us, just as the lazy learned helplessness of standard consumers is a mark of shame. And of course some pleasant entertainment to go along with all of it – witty remarks and good old-fashioned Swearing. If it doesn’t please everyone, that is just as well – sometimes you need to prune the unsuitable parts of the audience by scaring them off, in order to leave room for an appropriately dedicated and fun-loving club of survivors to get things done.

It was accidental, because that’s just the way I like to tell stories. But it was also real stuff – I really do believe that a battle must be fought against the default idea of maximum thoughtless debt-fueled consumption that gets served out to every citizen these days.

And what if the meteoric rise of Mustachianism doesn’t immediately take over the world as we all currently expect? No problem whatsoever. I look at this blog as a lifetime exercise in mass persuasion. If I can’t get the message just right today, I still have about 70 years more to keep refining the presentation to make the benefits more unavoidably obvious. We’ll get it right, all in good time.

So THAT is why you’ll occasionally see Mr. Money Mustache doing verbal battle with these internet foes or evil bits of the retail world. It’s also why he has a superhero name instead of just my standard real-life name. It’s because we have a big mission ahead of us. Big goals. Whipping your own spendypants consumer ass into shape so you can have the option of early retirement when you’re ready for it, as well as growing our authority to be broader and more intense, until it is sufficiently powerful to whip our entire fuckin’ society into shape.

Big goals like that call for big words and big concepts. And you can’t accomplish something so patently monumental while still taking yourself too seriously. People will immediately dismiss the idea as impossible. But with the aid of metaphors and fiction, we can all read along and enjoy the story without worrying about all those serious details.

Until everyone wakes up one day, and Whoops, we’re all Badass Mustachians, ready to walk outside and begin our day in a bright new world. How did that happen?

 

  • Frequent Traveler February 18, 2013, 7:28 pm

    MMM: Your blog is great reading and I look forward to each new one. You have many strengths, but what I appreciate the most is your consistency, and your consistent philosophy. You seem to have the ability to maximize the utility of everything you spend your time and money on. I like the way you are able to find ‘the good’ in everything. When you declare something ‘no good’, you have constructive criticism and ways to avoid, make better, re-work, re-purpose and move on.

    I am delighted to see that you have a strong following of many people early in their careers who are trying to save and live a good lifestyle, work less and enjoy life more. Saving more earlier, holding down consumption and enjoying the power of compounding can work for everyone.

    We have been semi retired 3 years and have not looked back. We travel and much as we can and enjoy at least one long road trip and one international trip each year. Plus many short ones. We plan our travel and activity to allow us to stay gone until we are road weary and ready to come home.

    Your ideas and blogs on efficient cars and LED lighting have been put into action in our house with great success. We were already energy efficient with almost all elements of our lives, but now we worry not about gasoline prices. We feather-foot down the road with our 4 cylinder cars. I started experimenting with LEDs and I honestly better enjoy every room where we installed them.

    I admire your building and handyman skills but do not try to copy as I just don’t have those skills. I do the basics but know enough to call professionals when it comes to anything beyond. I can better increase our quality of life thru putting the time into managing our assets and making good investments.

    Thanks for the good work and keep telling it like it is!

    Reply
  • Caine February 18, 2013, 10:08 pm

    I appreciate the positive slant you provide. I belonged to an early retirement forum and many of the people were extremely nasty. I got the idea the up and comers were excited and eager to learn, others were self loving, egoists, who wanted to show off they’d “made it”.

    Reply
  • UK Money Motivator February 19, 2013, 3:44 am

    In the UK, retirement is intrinsically linked to a pension in the majority of peoples minds. When I talk about my plans to retire early, I tend to be on the receiving end of raised eyebrows by these people, so I try to explain it in the terms of Financial Independence (or Financial Freedom). By being frugal, (not cheap – just sensible with the spending, like MMM), I am headings towards being free to choose to work when and where I want!

    After 11 years in the UK Military, with only(!) 5 years left to go until I could collect a reasonable pension and ‘retire’ from the Armed Forces (collecting my pension from age 40) some of my peers thought I was mad to quit and want a stable lifestyle.

    Now, living close enough to work to ride my bike, my living expenses are lower, and I have 5 years in which to raise my salary to compensate for the lack of pension income. Plus I am less likely to lose a leg in a foreign country!

    The things I am learning from MMM will help, so he can define the word however he pleases (although he does spell Aluminium wrong!)

    Reply
  • Tony@WeOnlyDoThisOnce February 19, 2013, 6:09 am

    “It also turns out that if everyone embraced it even in the slightest, it could solve most of humanity’s problems.”

    Ain’t that the truth!

    About a year and a half ago I, too, stumbled upon the concept of extreme frugality and (possible) early retirement. If your blog did not exist, many of us would be fumbling around for information still!

    Keep telling your story, man. Seems like quite a few people still want to read it (even the naysayers interestingly enough!).

    Reply
  • Joe February 19, 2013, 11:15 am

    I don’t know man. I think it’s the recent downturn that made frugal living such a big topic recently. Once everyone gets back to making a lot of money, they’ll spend a ton again. Well, maybe not. You are doing an awesome job though and you deserve the huge audience. I’m always trying to learn from you.

    Reply
  • Kevin @ Invest It Wisely February 19, 2013, 6:39 pm

    I originally came over here from Jacob’s blog, which was a really big eye opener for me and one of the big motivations behind striving for my own independence and taking a leap of faith. I didn’t know that there were retirement police out there. ;)

    By my own standards I wouldn’t consider myself retired, yet, as I would consider myself at that point if I had enough investment income to pay for our current standard of living. However, I’ve been able to make a good living on my own, building my own products, working on my own company, and it’s been great. We really do have unbelievable access to opportunities in today’s day and age, and I’m grateful for that.

    I definitely do think that many others can benefit from the knowledge, just like I benefited myself, and I’m glad there’s guys like you and Jacob that are willing to share!

    Reply
  • Erica February 20, 2013, 7:09 am

    Just want to say thanks for all the articles. I found you a couple of months ago and my eyes have been opened to new possibilities. I find your personality on the blog (or some calls it “hubris”) very charming and entertaining – write on! Can’t wait for more articles from you!

    Reply
  • MrMonkeyMoustache February 20, 2013, 7:50 am

    “I don’t really care what the Internet Retirement Police say about early retirees. In fact, other than a few tasty morsels that people point out to me, I don’t even know what is being said because I don’t read other blogs and forums – this one already takes up more than enough time.”

    Some muppet is using your name over at http://earlyretirementextreme.com/ then :). At least they linked back to your site.

    A big thumbs up to the blog. Some more “How-to-do-it” articles would be great. For me the PEX plumbing article has provided the most benefit of all your posts.

    Reply
  • Bec February 22, 2013, 4:01 am

    Just letting you know MMM you have a bit of a ‘cult’ following here in Australia. I’m sure that you, Mrs MMM and mini MMM would have lots of places to stay if you ever decided on a holiday ‘down under’.

    Love your blog, dig your message. Thank you!

    Reply
  • Monevator February 22, 2013, 10:25 am

    After a while, blogging is like they used to say about writing. You blog because you have to.

    If you save the world along the way you get my props! :)

    Reply
  • Ric Sake February 23, 2013, 10:33 am

    Great post, as was the retirement definition. As Sid Vicious says “Better to provoke a reaction than to react to provocation”.

    Reply
    • Mike February 23, 2013, 12:10 pm

      +20 for a Sid Vicious quote.

      Reply
  • madeline February 23, 2013, 1:48 pm

    “It is better to look ridiculous that to be absolutely boring.”

    And if you find Mr and Mrs. MM boring OR ridiculous,I’d say you may not have noticed THEY are retired and perhaps YOU are not!! I love all the posts even the ones I can’t do just yet.. a breath of fresh air!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  • BD November 28, 2013, 4:55 am

    Speaking of leading a cult, I want to add a little prayer here, it’s to Discordia (Eris), obviously the goddess of *discord*:

    “Lady, protect my enemies. Let them remain strong enough to continue blocking my path whenever I might otherwise run into danger. Let them know they have helped me almost as much as my friends.

    Lady, protect my enemies, locked inside their closed minds with the shades drawn tight and the doors barricaded against fresh thought, which might *poof* them like sunlight on the vampires they’re becoming.

    Thank you for their sensitive knee-jerk reactions. I enjoy making them dance when I’m bored. Don’t let me gloat when I scare them so easily. If I were small and grey and cold, I’d get scared too.

    You might let them know how pathetic they look in their pointy-headed-bigot caps, hatred congealed on their faces like drool.

    Should they ever become brave enough to abandon their brain’s musty attics and come out into the sunshine, please make me big enough to not hold a grudge.

    Amen.”

    I often find solace in this little prayer and I think you can use / rephrase it for your own spirituality, if needed.

    Reply
  • Greg October 26, 2016, 9:43 am

    Hey, I fucking love this blog. I’m working my way through from the very start, one post at a time in bursts for almost a year now. It’s a lot to get through but it has made a huge difference in my attitude and approach to our finances. We have our own self-made wildfire of debt and credit cards, pricey private uni tuition and all the rest – maybe when I get all the way to the end I’ll ask you for a case study. I’ll brace myself for the punches in the face :-)
    But, speaking of making it all the way up to the present day posts – I hope that I find you haven’t changed your attitude, or gone soft when I get there. I love this gusto, the swearing, the optimism – all of it!
    Go MMM!!
    👍🏼

    Reply

Leave a Reply

To keep things non-promotional, please use a real name or nickname
(not Blogger @ My Blog Name)

The most useful comments are those written with the goal of learning from or helping out other readers – after reading the whole article and all the earlier comments. Complaints and insults generally won’t make the cut here, but by all means write them on your own blog!

Cancel reply

connect

welcome new readers

Take a look around. If you think you are hardcore enough to handle Maximum Mustache, feel free to start at the first article and read your way up to the present using the links at the bottom of each article.

For more casual sampling, have a look at this complete list of all posts since the beginning of time or download the mobile app. Go ahead and click on any titles that intrigue you, and I hope to see you around here more often.

Love, Mr. Money Mustache

latest tweets