Author Topic: Mustachianism For the Blue-Collar Family  (Read 2938 times)

toonstop

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Mustachianism For the Blue-Collar Family
« on: April 03, 2018, 07:56:00 AM »
Hello all!

I have a questions about the practical application of Mustachianism for the blue-collar family. I already wrote in an email, so I will simply copypasta my submission into the body of this post.

Quote
Hi there, [Mustachians]!

My name is John. I'm a blue-collar worker in the state of Michigan employed by a screen printing shop.

I wanted to ask if there are any good, specific resources for a blue-collar worker to employ Mustachianism as [it seems to be designed]. I ask because the advice I see on the site largely seems directed at people who ended up in high-earning occupations after getting a good education specific to those fields.

I am no college graduate. I have been blessed to live in a completely debt-free situation, and I am quite hardline about keeping it that way. My wife and I between us currently save $400/month between out two jobs, and we do not touch that money since we make sure to maintain a healthy liquid spending account for incidentals.

Now, I do live a bit of a distance from work, and I am an entrepreneur, which requires additional travel for the purpose of my business. (My most active project is an art class I run that presently produces $75 from two hours of teaching. It's proving fairly profitable, and I take care to only make the most necessary investments to expand either the class, or my brand as a whole.) This results presently in the apparent need for a car, which proves to be a special sort of headache rather often.

Ultimately, Mr. Money Mustache, my desire is to illustrate from home at an exponentially higher rate of pay than this blue collar job will ever afford me, thereby eliminating such heavy dependence on a car. I foresee this change happening in the next couple of years at my current rate of effort.

All the same, are there changes I could or should make now? Should I change my employment to be closer to home? Are there harder questions I should ask myself about my spending? Or is it just a matter of weathering the current season of my life until my business inevitably replaces my occupation?

Hope my email presents something half-decent to think about. Thanks for helping the world out with your insights!

All the best,

John

Feel free to ask clarifying questions or to offer feedback right off. I look forward to hearing from you all!

G-dog

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Re: Mustachianism For the Blue-Collar Family
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2018, 08:14:48 AM »
Regardless of income - the principles are the same (high income makes it easier though, no doubt).
1. Spend less than you earn
2. Track your expenses
3.a. Index investing is your friend!  Get any employer match if available (401k, can do as self-employed too), use tax-advantaged accounts (401k, IRA). Invest even if your employer doesn’t have any program. 
3.b. Pay yourself first - a portion of every paycheck goes (automatically) to savings (any liquid account)
4. The higher your savings rate - the faster to FIRE (% saved vs actual dollars)
5. Learn to tell the difference between what you need versus what you want
6. Many frugal choices lessen your impact on the environment (bike vs. drive; lower your energy bills; buying used; gardening; eating less meat; etc.), your physical health (biking; gardening; DIY), and your social network (potlucks or game nights instead or restaurant or bar nights; DIY with friends)




AMandM

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Re: Mustachianism For the Blue-Collar Family
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2018, 08:51:23 AM »
Hi, toonstop, and welcome to the forum!

We're another family that doesn't have IT-level income, and sometimes it feels like the FIRE crowd makes blithe assumptions about how much can be saved. G-dog is right that the principles are the same, so in that sense there isn't any blue-collar-specific advice. Still, there's no question that lower income means longer till retirement.  If you can live on $20k, and you make $100k, you can FIRE in about 6 years. If you make $40k, it'll take a lot longer.

It sounds to me like you are saving regularly $400 a month while building a business that will eventually increase your income significantly. That's great when you consider that most businesses lose money!  If you want detailed advice about increasing your savings during this transition time, you could post a case study in the Case Studies board of this forum.

Good luck!

historian

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Re: Mustachianism For the Blue-Collar Family
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2018, 09:34:19 AM »
Thanks for posting this toonstop!  I'm in a somewhat similar boat (while I do have a Master's degree).  I don't make a ton and cars are essential (huzzah the Midwest).  My wife is a SAHM (to our soon to be four kids), so there is only my income.  With the kids there are expenses as well, so saving isn't as easy.  I'm working on being more mustachian, but it is difficult.

seattlecyclone

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Re: Mustachianism For the Blue-Collar Family
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2018, 11:07:48 AM »
I agree with the others that the basic principles are the same regardless of income level. One side effect of the shockingly simple math is that when you're saving a relatively low percentage of your income, cutting your expenses or increasing your income just a little bit can make a measurable difference in the time until you can expect to reach FI. For a higher-income person already saving the majority of their income, this really isn't the case. Going from a 70% savings rate to 75% cuts 18 months off your projected retirement date, less if you've already got a decent stash started. But going from 10% to 15%, that cuts off eight years. That's huge! You might see some higher-income folks around here saying that an extra $5 here or there for a small luxury doesn't make that much difference to their retirement date, and they might be right. You can't necessarily say that. Something to keep in mind.

One suggestion: take stock of whether the $75 per class you get from teaching is really enough to pay for the car that you imply you might not need otherwise. Cars are expensive little things and people often underestimate just how much. You may decide that this teaching is what you really want to spend your time on even if you make almost no money on it after expenses, but it's good to go into it with that knowledge in your head.

AMandM

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Re: Mustachianism For the Blue-Collar Family
« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2018, 11:15:38 AM »
One suggestion: take stock of whether the $75 per class you get from teaching is really enough to pay for the car that you imply you might not need otherwise. Cars are expensive little things and people often underestimate just how much. You may decide that this teaching is what you really want to spend your time on even if you make almost no money on it after expenses, but it's good to go into it with that knowledge in your head.

I have a relative who owns a big honking truck. He uses it to pick up fallen trees and deliver cut wood as a side hustle. One day he sat down and did the math and realized that he was barely breaking even.  So now instead of a side hustle he has a free hobby (which is fine with him--he loves turning wastewood into firewood).

In the OP's case, I thought the teaching was part of the buildup of the illustration business, but maybe I misunderstood.

phred

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Re: Mustachianism For the Blue-Collar Family
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2018, 12:02:27 PM »
Can you teach the art class from home?  This may allow more hours for teaching.  Can you teach on You Tube?

If you've been screen-printing for a while, does past work give you any ideas of products you could screenprint and sell (without any copyright infringement)?

Over the next year learn how to invest in the stock market (paper trade).  Many will suggest index funds, but those are not so good if we go into recession.

Spring is about here; time to plant a veg garden

Basenji

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Re: Mustachianism For the Blue-Collar Family
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2018, 12:15:04 PM »

SwordGuy

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Re: Mustachianism For the Blue-Collar Family
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2018, 08:55:38 AM »
Here are some things I'm doing to improve the odds that I transition to being a financially successful artist:

1) Teaching classes is a good way to get your name and work out in front of people who actually care about your art and who have disposable income they will spend on art.

2) I see you're in Michigan.  I'm assuming that you have one or more community colleges in your area.   The ones in my area don't pay worth a damn, but I've taught at them anyway.  Here's why:
   a) They do lots of free (to me) local advertising.
   b) They tend to bring in lots of raw beginner students.   Some of the beginners will be willing to pay for more advanced courses you offer on your own, at your own rates, outside of the school.
   c) With enough students, you can get top-notch artists to come do a workshop in your area that you'll be able to attend at a fraction of the cost it might otherwise run.   For example, I contacted an internationally known enamelist and found out how much he would charge for time and expenses to run a class.  Then I found that a place to teach it and enough students to fill it up.   The cost to take the class 4 blocks from my house was LESS than it would have cost to take it in his studio in his home town.  My mom had moved to his hometown, and that "less than" figure includes me staying at her place AND her paying for the gas money to drive there!    I just let the students know that the price would vary depending upon how many people signed up (and paid).  We set a max $ amount (meaning the class would be cancelled if it went above that price).  Worked like a charm.  Plus I made friends with the artist (he's a great person) and now I'll be his teaching assistant during a class this fall at a major craft school.  In effect, I'll get a paid vacation to do what I would pay to do for fun.  :)
  d) Students in classes may want to buy your work.   Retail sales are good, especially when someone is paying you to show them as samples.
  e) You'll get experience teaching that can up the odds of you getting to teach a workshop at one of the craft schools around the country.   Arrowmont, John C. Campbell, Touchstone, Haystack, and many more.   Not only do these schools pay, but you'll meet other artists in many different mediums.  There's no telling what kind of ideas you might get for your work or the friendships you'll make.   And when it comes to getting your work published in someone's show or book, it never hurts to have them already know about you and the work you're doing.  And the school paid you to market yourself, too! :)

3) Professional conferences or associations.   I don't know your field so I can't suggest any specific ones to check out.  You can make great contacts, friends, and learn a lot.  Don't just show up, volunteer (and follow thru!).   That triples the benefits you can get back.

4) Publish.   Internet, professional association conferences, newsletters or journals.   In time, get a book done.  Videos.  Blogs.  Get your work and yourself out there.

5) Be kind and helpful to everyone.  Aside from it just being the right thing to do, you never know when an act of kindness you did without thinking about it will be remembered for a decade or more, then get repaid with interest.


Maenad

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Re: Mustachianism For the Blue-Collar Family
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2018, 02:49:55 PM »
I grew up in a blue-collar family, and my parents were very frugal, so I'll see what I can remember. A lot of this comes from their complaints about their friends wasting money. :-)

1. Starting your own business is great! My dad started one and when he got laid off my senior year of high school was able to just slide over into doing that full time and ended up making more money.

2. Disability insurance - very important with a lot of blue-collar jobs, which tend to be harder on your body and you're more likely to get hurt. We had a tight year once when I was a kid due to my mom getting laid off and dad getting injured.

3. Buy everything second-hand that you can - hit the thrift stores when you need clothes if possible, etc. One caveat - if you're on your feet all day, high-quality shoes are a must, even if they cost a lot. Red Wing Shoes makes awesome work shoes/boots that will last for decades.

4. Can you garden? My mom grew and canned tons of veggies. We also had apple trees and a pear tree for a while.

5. Echoing what @G-dog said, spend your evenings in - potluck dinners with friends, play board games, etc. No gambling, no smoking, little if any drinking. In nicer weather grilling at a park is cheap and fun, and there are also lots of museums and stuff with low or no admission charges.

6. Take advantage of "blue-collar networking", as my brother calls it - trade favors with others in the trades. Any repairs or improvements around your house will cost a lot less when you can call a friend rather than a stranger.

7. I also remember that I didn't have a lot of expensive toys like a lot of my peers, but what I did have were a) books, and b) toys that engaged my imagination. No iPad necessary.

Thank you for prompting me to remember how much effort my parents put in to give me a great childhood. I think I need to give them a call now.

SwordGuy

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Re: Mustachianism For the Blue-Collar Family
« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2020, 11:30:47 AM »
@toonstop , how are you doing a few years later?