How to be Happy, Rich, and Save the World

How to be Happy, Rich, and Save the World

Mr. Money Mustache

Can we Change the Diapers of the Entire Rich World?

With this being the fall of 2016, I just passed the 11-year anniversary of my retirement from real work (Mrs. MM escaped her cubicle a few months earlier than me). Coincidentally, this Mr. Money Mustache gig just had its 5.5th birthday, which means that I’ve been writing about being retired for fully half of the time that I’ve actually been retired.

You’d think that this would get boring at some point, and indeed my production of new blog posts is slower now than it was in the early years. I only sit down to type additional shit into the computer when I really want to tell you something and happen to have the free time to do it.

But the desire to keep working on the overall project never gets any weaker, because it’s such a big one that allows me to learn so much in the process. If you’re a nerd like me, imagine having unlimited free time, money, and good health to spend the next 60 years working on and learning whatever you want. This is living life in a state of Permanent Nerd Nirvana.

The project, of course, is to try to get the people of the world’s rich countries excited about separating the idea of lifetime happiness, from the idea of buying expensive shit with which to pamper yourself. We use early retirement, personal fulfillment and social status as the carrot, and being a wussypants clown as the stick. It’s a human psychology problem as much as it is a financial or technical or political one.

So anyway, part of the deal is trying new stuff, in order to reach new groups of people. According to Google Analytics, about 21 million supposedly-unique people have visited this website since it was first created, and almost 90% of us are in the United States.

That’s 5% of the country’s population at best, which even assuming a fictional 100% adoption rate would still leave at least 95% of us as Sucka Clown Consumers subject to the risks of buying a new GMC Acadia and driving our kids 1 mile to school in it. Recent observations of my own neighborhood confirm this estimate. Badass bicycle-based living in the fresh air is way up, but we still need way more of it.

One of my recent attempts at this advocacy was giving a daunting presentation to a big scary theater full of people at an event called the World Domination Summit (as noted in the earlier article about doing difficult stuff). Since the attendees of this event are generally fans of author Chris Guillebeau, many of them had never heard of old Mr. Money Mustache before.

So the challenge in this case was to present a concise summary of financial independence and early retirement, how and why you’d want to do it, and why this is a actually good and ethical thing to pursue. I tried to make the case by walking through the following three logical steps:

  • Almost everyone (currently) sucks at money
  • Getting rich enough to retire takes way less time than most of us think
  • Work is better when you don’t need the money

Although the talk isn’t super-sparkly and polished, I’m still pretty happy with the overall thing and it was quite well recorded*. I figured hey, since I put so much work into this thing, I might as well share it with you. You can then poach any ideas from it when presenting Mustachianism to your own stubborn friends and family members, or even make them watch the whole 28-minute thing. Also, since companies and local TEDx talk organizers occasionally pester me to come give talks at their venues, I can now respond, “Nah – how about I stay home and go on some hikes with my family while you just watch this video?”

So here’s a link to the full recording on Chris Guillebeau’s Vimeo page (you can ignore that weird name on the title screen – it should say “Mr. Money Mustache” ;-)


WDS 2016: Pete Adeney from Chris Guillebeau on Vimeo.

Chris originally shared that video through this page on his own website – there is a nice intro/discussion around it there.

Also, here’s a link to my slides and transcript, which I wrote in Powerpoint then converted to a public Google Slides presentation. Copy, plagiarize and share those ideas around as much as you like. You can even personally give my entire talk to your own company if you like – I found it was a lot of fun to deliver.

That’s it – no real article today as another sunny day beckons. But I am hard at work on more experiments and persuasive entertainment for you, as the project continues.

* The stage production at the WDS is pretty amazing. Gigantic, glitzy with top-of-the-line people, lighting, and equipment. The only sad part (for me) is that I now realize they recorded it with a camera that’s up high in the seats. Meanwhile, among many other rookie mistakes, I was looking down to talk to the first level of the audience, which are the only ones you see due to the bright lights on your face. In the video, it looks like I am talking to the floor. Also, since I talk with my hands and not my face, I would have preferred to have them use a full-body shot instead of that awkwardly-close shot so much. But whatever – still better than anything I could have recorded myself!

view Mr. Money Mustache