Extreme Frugality: Retirement by Age 30-Something

Extreme Frugality: Retirement by Age 30-Something

Prior to starting my own blog earlier this year I closely followed the Mr. Money Mustache blog. The blog is written by a 30-something year old, Canadian born dude living in Colorado. He and his wife quit their jobs and retired at the age of 30 to raise a family by cutting their household expenses by up to 50% using extremely frugal methods and investing in some simple investments.  

Like many others before me, his blog completely changed my perception of money, lifestyle and retirement. “You mean I don’t have to work until I’m 65 years old?! Sign me up!” First off, the point of frugality for him is not to endure an ascetic, joyless life for the purpose of hording a few extra bucks. It’s a lifestyle choice in the pursuit of happiness supported by the idea that the best of life is more than a massive house and fancy car. While the ideology of “less is more” is nothing new, Mr. Money Mustache is ruthless in his approach to frugality, going as far as making his own badass bumpin’ radio out of free stuff. I love his outlandish ideas (although he would call them rational) and the way he scoffs at so many of the traditional purchases made by the general public. As a Chartered Professional Accountant I can’t help it but salivate at the way his lifestyle translates to amazingly sexy financial figures.

While his story is a rare one, it made me relook at my life and how I view the prospect of retiring in the next few years. Currently I’m a $168k mortgage and about $600k short in investments of where I need to be to retire…so there’s that… I also wouldn’t want to drastically slash my spending in half as I enjoy the small luxuries in my life. Suppose money wasn’t an obstacle, would you really want to call it quits at an early age?

For Mr. Money Mustache his decision was to quit his job so he could focus on raising a family. However, most people will work for quite a few years longer, and (hopefully) retire in their 60’s or 70’s. It seems like retiring at a young age would be ideal, but I often wonder if I’d get bored with all that spare time. I mean, a grown man can only play video games for so many hours a day! The truth is I’ve become comfortable in my daily/weekly routine schedule of getting up at 7am on the weekdays to work for 9 hours and sleeping in until 9am on the weekends where my time is mine. As you may have guessed by this 9am sleep in, I don’t have kids!

Besides a routine, work also keeps me mentally sharp and engaged, which is something I’ve come to appreciate over the last few years (on top of the pay check). To mix things up I’ve also taken on writing this blog and doing the odd side hustle to keep me motivated outside of work and increase my earning potential. Variety is the spice of life and I don’t think I’m exactly set to retire from my job just yet. Perhaps a more suitable approach for me would be to work until 40, at which point hopefully the mortgage would be paid off and live off side hustle gigs to fund my day to day living expenses.

Ultimately, it comes down to finding a balance in your lifestyle between work and play that allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds. If your current job leaves you counting down the days until retirement, it may be a long haul that requires you to consider your career options – there’s nothing worse than getting up and dreading the work day. If you’re lucky enough to have a job or career that gives you a sense of accomplishment and worth, despite the odd bad day, count your blessings and understand that what you’re earning is more than just a pay check.

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4 comments

  1. It’s funny but when I read MMM I don’t find any of his ideas outlandish – he has a way of explaining them that make them seem simple enough. I think, “hmmm, why don’t we all do that?” Most of us in 1st world countries are raised to believe that there is one way to live and the thought that there are other options is shocking.
    I hear you about the balance part. Working on it but believe that finding the right balance is a personal thing and different for everyone. Good luck with your journey.

    • Jonny

      MMM certainly does simplify things right down in his life, which I’m a huge fan of. I suppose he’s a lot more crafty and handy than I am, so some of his ideas on home improvement are way beyond me. I find common ground on a lot of his shared values and really enjoy his posts.
      The balancing part is difficult. I use to think unless I was working like a madman 12 hours, 6 days a week I was being lazy, however, as time goes on I’m fine with sacrificing the big promotion or advancing for more personal time.

  2. Yup I missed the retire by 30 memo. In 3 years probably not going to happen . my age will be 40 but as early as 37 if all the ducks fall in a row.

    Haha I always am a bit confused by people who say they don’t know what they’d do with more time and less work. Then again I have kids and all the free hrs would just be shifted to that with maybe a guarantee of 1 hr a day of me time. For reading or other pursuits

    • Jonny

      Kids are certainly a full time job!
      I use to fantasize all the time about retiring but I think I would go stir crazy unless I head something to keep me motivated!

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