The Medicine of Mustachianism (a guest post from Marla)

Camp Mustache Seattle, one of Chancellor Taner’s ongoing assignments.

Foreword from Mr. Money Mustache :

Marla is a long-time friend who I met on one the very first of the Ecuador Chautauqua trips. She has been the Chancellor for Fun at the MMM organization since then. This informal, haphazard group is entirely made up of volunteers who occasionally create unique events.

Marla wrote this on March 18th, which makes her optimistic perspective from that moment in time even more appropriate today as we emerge from the chaos.


The Medicine of Mustachianism

By Marla Taner

I love face punches. I love the shockingly simple math of early retirement. It is great that everyone enjoys discussing the pros and cons of early retirement. This blog isn’t really about money.

And it’s not because my portfolio just lost more than 30% and it’s not because my friends and family are enjoying their moment of schadenfreude. This blog post was written because, when all the world is falling apart around you and it suddenly becomes clear what Mustachianism is all about, you want to share this information with everyone you care about as quickly as possible.

Yes, it’s true. After nearly seven years of “retirement”, and watching When Harry Met Sallyfor the 1000th time while self-isolating, it took the Corona Virus to inspire my first blog post.

First, a little confession. MMM’s advice doesn’t always work for me. In particular, I love politics and I watch way too much of the 24 hour news cycle on TV. It’s not hard to justify with the usual excuses: I believe it’s important, it’s important, it’s an amazing time in history, etc. As with MMM’s wise advice, even though I do what he suggests, his voice (or virtual fist) is always in my head reminding me why it’s a bad idea. I’m still learning.

Since the news cycle has shifted from ubiquitous tweets from you know-who to global calamity, I have realized that I must turn off the news. It’s difficult to fall asleep because my palms are sweaty and my pulse is racing. This could be you feeling the same. Here’s some medicine for that:

The Low Information Diet

Second, take a a dose from the optimism gun by reading The Practical Benefits of Outrageous Optimism.

Finally, learn what to do (and not to do) in times like these by figuring out How Big Is Your Circle of Control.

We are the fortunate ones. What I earned during my career was far greater than the average world income of $5000 per annum. By being frugal and running against the herd, I saved more than 50% of my income over a 15 year career.

My expenses are low. If I feel the need, I can reduce my expenses. I can stay home and be with my family during difficult times. Even though my net worth has dropped suddenly and shockingly, I still have plenty of time. Let’s look back at the history of stock market charts.

Inflation adjusted S&P500 price, (not even including dividends!) Image source Macrotrends.net

Yes, I realize that being lucky does not insulate us against hardship. Tragedies can strike at any time, and we are not immune from sickness, loss, disability, or discrimination. Let’s not forget to be thankful for what we have and remember our resilience. We’ll be fine, even in the worst. In fact, my favorite post was this one that inspired me to pull the trigger on FIRE in 2013:

If I Woke Up Broke

Finally, a dose of what’s really important. That’s the whole point behind Mustachianism. MMM retired at just 30 years old because he wanted to be the best Dad he could be. MMM didn’t retire to start this blog and make a difference in the world. He understood that his needs and wants were very small. A great dad didn’t necessarily mean traveling the world or competing in the top private schools or private equestrian clubs. His greatest joy was being able to take his son out on adventures, teach him how to ride a bicycle, build forts, and give him the gift of time.

And, when we ask MMM what he has learned about happiness, he says that you only need to have enough great days to live a great lifestyle. Pete’s day includes exercise, time with loved ones, socializing with friends, and time outside. Each person’s great day will be different.

Let’s look at what makes us great as we face this global pandemic together. It doesn’t usually cost much. It might be right there with the people you love. With the first signs of spring and singing birds, the great outdoors is still inviting. There are many things to do, including great recipes, reading, movies, and chores. Never has our home been so clean. If we are unable to meet up in person, let us text, call or video chat.

Let’s end by thanking the health care professionals who work on the front lines to ensure that our shelves are full of the necessary food and supplies.

Mustachianism really is the best medicine.

*thanks Nora Ephron.

with all due respect to laughter.

My thanks to Mr. Money Mustache for providing his favorite stalker with this platform to share my thoughts. Marla Taner met MMM at the first Chautauqua in Ecuador and has been following him ever since at Mustachian events and FIRE events. You might not be able find her on Facebook.

MMM here again: I am going to try to invite Marla back here to respond to any questions here in the comments. What would you like to ask a 40-something Canadian early retiree who has been at it for so many years, and lives a totally different lifestyle than me? You don’t have kids and you can travel the world without being a bicycle nazi like me.

Mr. Money Mustache
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