Is Frugality the Right Road to Financial Independence


So you are looking for answers on how to make a more cost effective existence. Perhaps you have been lured by the cheap housing in an outer lying suburb, only to find yourself getting stuck in the traffic congestion or paying more for your commute into work. Perhaps you also have kids who need to be dropped off and picked up from school. These events dramatically shorten your work day, especially if you have a long commute. So what can we do about it?

Mr Money Mustache aka MMM suggests a frugal lifestyle, one where riding to your place of work is an option and limiting yourself to basic needs. All this is the sacrifice to financial independence, the dream, where you save enough to finally live the free and basic lifestyle you have always wanted. There is no question his popularity is inspiring but popularity comes at a cost and now MMM is struggling to be truly frugal by simply living off his fat stock portfolio. You see he has monetized his site and based on his traffic flow and affiliate choices he would be earning at least a six figure revenue from his site alone. As he doesn’t disclose this information I suspect the site is not barely making six figures but more mid sixes. Wow!

Never the less MMM is still reporting his basic spending which equates to around $30k a year for a family of 3. That figure is easily achievable once you take out the cost of housing and the fact there are no commuting costs. Sure its a basic living but one can find true happiness when the stresses of money are taken away and time is abundant. I congratulate him for attaining his goal of financial independence and the smartest thing he did was to start blogging all those years ago. Was this part of his master plan?

Sharing his story has inspired a cult following and incredible traffic numbers. For a long while he didn’t monetize the site and I’m sure spiralling website costs to service that traffic has forced his hand. Now with affiliate links at the ready he finds the masses trying to be more like him and are looking for ways to discover his secret sauce. Fortunately, there are plenty of links to click taking the readers to the best resources available on the journey to financial independence.

More recently reading his blog I have picked up costs that are listed as “business costs” that don’t form part of the frugal living disclosure. But buying things that don’t fit in the cap is a bit like cheating his readers. Can you live frugally and also be enjoying the trappings of a business funded lifestyle and the perks associated with this. It’s a bit like trying to survive on a deserted island with just your wits and survival skills, but then when you’ve had enough the camera crew call ‘cut’ and all the trapping of consumerism are at your disposal.

Traveling to destinations for ‘business’ interviews, staying at quality accommodation and the like doesn’t read like frugality to me, perhaps its a little more like being thrifty. Taking advantage of opportunities as they arise. Regardless MMM is living within his means and this has consistently been his mantra and his life journey.

What he should be telling his punters is to start their own movement, continue down their path to financial freedom and let them enjoy some of the spoils that this era provides. Moments after the Global Financial Crisis hit, the MMM blog became relevant to so many people and provided the perfect storm. As this storm blows over and people begin to realize that growth is easier than frugality it might be hard to capture that imagination again and continue to convince the masses that doing the hard slog for 10 years whilst you wait for financial independence is the best route.

If frugality is too extreme and fame and fortune isn’t your thing then stayed tuned because I’m heading towards a fulfilling life, not to excess, but a comfortable existence. Extreme living is so last year. This year its time for the realists to take charge and make something really happen.

Considering the Internet opportunities are rapidly growing and there will be another 3 billion users connected in the next 5 years. Whilst you are living a life of frugality, others will be profiting from the world of abundance. The abundance of opportunities by being online.

Perhaps if you start a blog today, keep up regular posting and build your tribe over the next 10 years you will also make your way to financial independence. Many already have, Mr Money Mustache did it so what’s stopping you?

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