Author Topic: A Year of Mustachianism  (Read 6603 times)

TRBeck

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A Year of Mustachianism
« on: July 24, 2014, 10:06:55 PM »
About a year ago, I stumbled onto the blog and promptly realized that MMM was perfectly aligned with my theoretical values but not with my actual lifestyle. Fortunately, having gone through a 100-lb. weight fat loss a few years back (and successfully maintaining it), I had some experience with pressing reset and getting things together in short order. My wife has been completely on board, and things have gone our way more often than not. We started in a bit of a hole, but we had some advantages on our side, too. So, one year on from my first read on the blog, here's how things have gone:

- Sold our paid-off small SUV; kept the small sedan and finished paying it off ($10,000 owed a year ago)
- Bought a bike (new) and a trailer (Craigslist); switched all of my driving - including commutes, groceries, and errands - to the bike
- Dropped AT&T, switched to Airvoice (net savings ~$130/mo)
- Dropped cable, subscribed to Netflix (net savings ~$64/mo)
- Changed car insurance companies (net savings ~$30/mo)
- Moved up the thermostat despite the TX heat
- Quit dining out entirely (I like to cook, so this was not a huge sacrifice)
- Got a Costco membership and moved to more bulk buying
- Quit complaining and started doing stuff

We paid off the car loan plus 5-figure credit card debt accrued while I was pursuing a graduate degree of questionable value. We also continued putting money into my wife's 403B plus education accounts for the kids and a nominal monthly amount in money market accounts. These were habits we started before hedonic adaptation set in. The thing is, we have dipped into these accounts a couple of times for stupid reasons, and the trick the past year has been to pretend they don't exist so that all we could see was the debt number. We paid off the last extant debt at the end of June, meaning we annihilated over $25,000 debt in 10 months. Since we acted all along like there was no money there, hitting a $0 debt was a double whammy. We looked at our bottom line, saw a comma in the plus column, and started turning handsprings.

We may have been able to move things along more quickly if we didn't tithe from our salaries, but as I said, this is about getting our lifestyle to align with our values. At any rate, assuming we can save at the same rate we have paid down debt on top of the small amount we have already set aside, we will be very happy, but I know we can do better. We still spend too much on beer (a product of tiny details exaggeration syndrome) and dry too many loads of laundry. We still spend too much on birthdays and Christmas. We could drive less (to that end, my wife just got a usable bike in honor of the debt elimination and plans to begin commuting that way whenever possible). But we have made tremendous progress, and most importantly, I felt a shift in our thinking and our approach to decision-making sometime in mid-winter, such that the default now is to not spend money, to find a way to do it cheaper, to find a way to do it ourselves. I like DIY, efficiency, and thrift anyway; I'm just thankful to MMM and the community here on the forum for ongoing inspiration and information regarding how to do it. It's been exactly the kick in the pants punch in the face I needed.

Some fringe benefits of getting the financial house in order:
- so much more time with our kids - less TV, less car time and restaurant coloring pages, more actual conversation and making craft projects and playing games
- additional fitness from cycling all the time
- knowledge about bike repair and other DIY projects
- remembering how much better homemade bread is
- reduction in alcohol consumption
- picnics (best Mother's Day brunch ever - overlooking the lake, eating shrimp and fruit salad and hardboiled eggs on a blanket and then playing soccer with the kids, all for less than the cost of gas to get to the damn restaurant)

There are lots of analogies to huge fat loss, including the fact that the hard part - maintenance and lifelong moderation - is yet to come, but right now the one that stands out is this: I got 99 problems, but my fat ass debt ain't one.

Thanks to all here on the forum and to MMM for helping us do a serious life 180.

Life is good.

T

deborah

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Re: A Year of Mustachianism
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2014, 10:26:52 PM »
Fantastic!!! You are a legend!

1967mama

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Re: A Year of Mustachianism
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2014, 01:51:43 AM »
Thanks for this fantastically motivating summary of your year! So impressive! Especially admire your "no restaurants" stance...this would definitely help our waistlines and our bank account.  Would be interested in hearing more. Have you considered starting a journal here?
« Last Edit: July 25, 2014, 01:57:54 AM by 1967mama »

marty998

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Re: A Year of Mustachianism
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2014, 05:50:21 AM »
I like seeing threads like this.

Well done!

TRBeck

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Re: A Year of Mustachianism
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2014, 01:42:32 PM »
Thanks for the props. Some more background:

- We are both mid-30s. Two kids, ages 2 and 5.
- I am a teacher; my wife is a youth minister
- We are renting our home currently and debating the merits of buying or continuing to lease in the next couple of years (I'm in favor of waiting until we can put a large chunk down and get a 15-year lease that we can knock out in short order).
- We have a geographic advantage: we live in a small city, and I have to work pretty hard to find an errand that requires riding more than 5 miles in any direction from home. Given that I was in decent physical condition to begin with, it was no problem for me to take up cycling.
- Some things in the plus column for getting even better at saving money:
  1. Our youngest is now potty-trained. No more diapers and less laundry going forward.
  2. I'm a former vegan and am able to eat lentils or beans for lunch with gusto, so I think we can trim the fat from the grocery budget even further.
  3. Now that we owe no money, we can justify buying in quantity when staple groceries go on sale.
  4. My wife will be able to cycle to and from work easily for evening meetings and other work commitments outside of her regular hours. She takes our youngest with her to the preschool at our church on weekdays and is not quite up for the trailer yet, but down the road, who knows? Should save us a decent amount of gas going forward.
  5. We're up for anything when it comes to DIY. Anything that can be done in the kitchen we do, including beer, laundry detergent, and soap, and small furniture and sewing projects appear to be the next frontier.
  6. I'm looking at some side gigs, particularly selling my homemade shave soap.

Life is good.

T

trailrated

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Re: A Year of Mustachianism
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2014, 02:18:54 PM »
Such an inspiration, thank you for sharing. It is amazing to see how adopting new habits changes your life around so quickly. Cheers to you and your family!

Richie Poor

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Re: A Year of Mustachianism
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2014, 04:55:42 PM »
Well done TRBeck!

Your demo information sounds similar to me. Mid 30s, married to a youth minister, living in Texas.

I would second your idea to save up 20% for a down payment and get a 15 year note. When you do the math and see the interest that you will save it is really satisfying. My house payment ended up being less than renting.

Good luck with the shave soap!

Calvawt

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Re: A Year of Mustachianism
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2014, 12:29:39 AM »
Great story.  I enjoyed the before and after aspect.  Thanks for sharing, I look forward to posting the same in a few months!

Eric

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Re: A Year of Mustachianism
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2014, 01:19:13 AM »
Awesome T!  I know where you're coming from.  I've made a lot of big changes too (about 1.5 years for me).  The best part?  They're so easily sustainable.  There's practically no chance of falling back into old habits because instead of being on auto pilot, I'm just simply thinking about it.  Simple and profound at the same time.

NearlyThere

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Re: A Year of Mustachianism
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2014, 02:03:20 AM »
Great Journey TRBeck! I'm 15 months into my FIRE journey and the changes are unreal. Not that I was a spender before, but I am super focussed right now.

The more I save, the less I want. For example I could go out today and pay cash for a super car, but knowing I can do this makes me lose interest. I am happier saving this money right now.

Congrats on the weight loss. That in itself is an amazing achievement.

TRBeck

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Re: A Year of Mustachianism
« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2014, 12:36:45 PM »
Congrats on the weight loss. That in itself is an amazing achievement.
Thanks. There's no doubt that experience has helped me. My hair was on fire when I hit three bills at 6'2", and I used a very extreme fat loss diet to get down under 200 pounds. The process of hard-core dieting prepared me for the moderation and day-to-day decision-making necessary for weight maintenance when the most extreme restriction was over. It also taught me about the difference between hunger and casual eating. Obvious parallels to spending here.

Thanks for this fantastically motivating summary of your year! So impressive! Especially admire your "no restaurants" stance...this would definitely help our waistlines and our bank account.  Would be interested in hearing more. Have you considered starting a journal here?
No restaurants has not been too tough, really. The few times we have had to go out to eat while traveling, the experience has ranged from just okay to pretty disappointing. We eat well at home, and inexpensively. We're better cooks than folks at most restaurants, except maybe for high-end places we would never go anyway. Our kids feel more comfortable and eat better at home, too. Good for the waistline as a side effect, for sure.

Awesome T!  I know where you're coming from.  I've made a lot of big changes too (about 1.5 years for me).  The best part?  They're so easily sustainable.  There's practically no chance of falling back into old habits because instead of being on auto pilot, I'm just simply thinking about it.  Simple and profound at the same time.

Yes. Mindful spending and saving. Simple. But to quote Thelonious Monk, "simple ain't easy."

DMoney

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Re: A Year of Mustachianism
« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2014, 12:44:38 PM »
Congrats!  A true badass!!

socalwkr

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Re: A Year of Mustachianism
« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2014, 02:19:51 PM »
This is really motivating!  Great job on both fronts.  I have been trying the bike more but it is hard with kids, trailers and hills but no excuses. 

Gone Fishing

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Re: A Year of Mustachianism
« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2014, 11:40:55 AM »
Good work!  We're right at the 12 month MMM reading mark as well.  We have always been pretty frugal but decided to kick it up a notch after reading MMM.  Went from 50% savings rate to 60% and shaved a few years off of ER.  Amzing what can happen when you really go after it!

MBot

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Re: A Year of Mustachianism
« Reply #14 on: August 04, 2014, 08:23:36 PM »
Very inspiring! That's a great summary.

I'm a college pastor in the Canadian north (my day job/salary  is from doing heart ultrasound, my husband is a civil eng technologist). It's good to hear from those who are also walking the tithe/give generously/attack the debt line at the same time. 

Hearing about the great memories made on a holiday spending very little is also inspiring. We have relatives visiting in a couple days and want to be very proactive about having the experience not revolve around buying/consuming.