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. Since then, she has served as the Chancellor of Fun in the MMM organization, which is an informal and haphazard group of entirely volunteer planners who sometimes create interesting 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.  I love that we all enjoy debating the merits of financial independence versus retiring early.  And I love that in the end, this blog is not 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.  I wrote this blog post because when the rest of the world is going crazy all around you and you suddenly realize with clarity what the whole point of Mustachianism is, you want to share it with everyone you care about as soon as possible.

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

First, a dose of confession.  I don’t always follow MMM’s advice.  In particular, I love politics and I watch way too much of the 24 hour news cycle on TV.  I justify it with all the usual excuses: it’s important, I want to be informed, this is an incredible time in history.  But, as with much of MMM’s sage advice, while I’m doing what he recommends against, his voice is in my head (or his virtual fist is in my face) reminding me why this is a bad idea.  I am still a work in progress.

Since the news cycle shifted from those ubiquitous tweets from you-know-who to worldwide calamity, it has become abundantly clear that I need to turn off the news.   My palms are sweating, my pulse is racing, it’s hard to sleep. You just might feel this way too. 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 lucky 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. I can make my expenses lower if I really need to. I have the luxury of staying home and gathering my loved ones close during these difficult times.  And even though my net worth is suddenly, shockingly lower; I have time on my side. Let’s remind ourselves of the stock market chart throughout history.  

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.  We are not immune to sickness or loss, disability or discrimination, tragedy can still strike.  But, let’s be grateful for what we have, and remind ourselves of our resilience. After all, even if the worst happens, we’ll still be okay.  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.  Yes, the whole point of Mustachianism. MMM retired at just 30 years old because he wanted to be the best Dad he could be.  He didn’t “retire” to write this blog, start a movement and change the world. He realized his needs and his wants were small.  Being a great Dad didn’t mean constantly travelling the world, or competing for the best private schools or private equestrian leagues.  It was taking his son on adventures in the neighborhood, teaching him to ride a bike, building forts, playing games, giving him the gift of his time. 

And, when you ask MMM now what he’s figured out about happiness, he tells us that to have a great life, you just need to put together a string of enough great days. While everyone’s great day is different, Pete’s includes time outside, exercise, time with family, socializing with friends and some hard work. 

And so, as we all face this global pandemic together, let’s think about what makes our own great day.  Chances are, it doesn’t cost much. The ones you want to spend it with might be locked inside with you right now.  The great outdoors still beckons with singing birds and the first signs of spring. There are great meals to cook, books to read, movies to watch, and chores to catch up on.  Our homes have never been this clean. And if we can’t meet up with friends in person, let’s call, text or video chat with each other.  

On a final note, let’s thank our amazing health care professionals on the front lines, those that are making sure our shelves are stocked with necessary food and supplies and all the “caremongerers”.  

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 in Ecuador at the first Chautauqua and has continued to stalk him at Mustachian and FIRE events ever since.  You may or may not be able to 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? No kids, travels the world freely, not a hardcore bicycle nazi like I am?

  • Mighty Investor April 14, 2020, 3:35 pm

    That was a welcome dose of optimism in these crazy crazy times. Thank you, Marla!

  • deb from Toronto April 14, 2020, 3:50 pm

    hello, I’d love to hear more about your story Marla, including your approach to world travel (which I sure hope to get back to as soon as possible) and how you prioritize this in your budget. Do you have a specific travel target ? Do you work or earn money/ live off dividends ? thank you

    • Marla April 15, 2020, 1:08 pm

      Hi Deb – I too hope to get back to world travel soon. While travel is a fairly large portion of my budget (20%), I keep the costs down through travel hacking and the FI luxuries of slow travel, travelling during non-peak times and always looking for deals. When I first retired, I travelled nearly half of each of the first 3 years. Now, I feel less desperate to get away and that there is lots of time to see the world. It’s been interesting to see how much less I “need” travel as a chance to relax/escape. The freedom that FI provides makes every day feel so much less stressful (present time excepted!).

      I do live solely off investment income (index funds) with a fairly substantial amount in cash. So far I have been spending less than I’ve budgeted. Thanks for reading and for your questions!

  • Bianca April 14, 2020, 4:03 pm

    My Man…err, Lady!!

    You are always the voice of reason in uncertain times. I’m so happy to have you as a friend and constant mentor but I’m also happy to share you with the the Mustachian folk so they can have this chance to learn from your wisdom. (She’s on loan only, Mustachians!! Find your own Marla!!)

    • Marla April 15, 2020, 1:09 pm

      Right back at you friend! Hope to see you in person soon!

  • TunaFishTuesdays April 14, 2020, 4:29 pm

    Great post and positive comments, Marla.

    My wife and I just retired this past June at 56 and 55, respectively, from 30 years of teaching. We’d always been frugal (early adoptees of Saint Amy and Tightwadism), but had we known stuff like the value of every $10 bill, etc., it could’ve happened 5 or so years earlier. Ah, well.

    We’ve been so thankful these past ten months for the time we now have, and the gift of our days free to organize and orient as we see fit. And these hard times that are hitting the world are a good test of that nagging question…did we plan correctly? So far, the answer seems to be yes, and we certainly hope the same for all other Mustachians out there. Here’s hoping we all keep our eyes on the possible positives that Marla mentions.

    • Marla April 16, 2020, 11:26 am

      First there were Waffles on Wednesday, now Tuna Fish Tuesdays – what an amusing community we all share! As the daughter of two teachers (who were able to retire at the same age as you two!), I am so happy you have pulled the trigger! Congratulations! And while I am not a parent, I know many accidental covid homeschoolers who are most grateful for your service! Best wishes and stay safe!

  • Scott W April 14, 2020, 4:46 pm

    I’m not as smart with my money as many who follow this site especially MMM or as smart as I should be but I have been saving about 30% of my gross income for 2o+ years. While I think reasonable people can debate some of the issues in the personal finance world like whether to buy a home or rent I can’t see how anyone thinks the current COVID situation is an argument against early financial independence. Sure most people have lost 20% give or take of their net worth this year I still think times like this make saving and financial independence critical. People like us still have large nest eggs to support our families in times of need.

    One of the things helping me deal with the stress of the pandemic is that I have saved a lot of money for a rainy day.

    Thank you MMM for all you do!

  • Robert April 14, 2020, 5:31 pm

    I had the pleasure of meeting Marla this past September and am thrilled to see her first blog post!

    I don’t have any specific questions, just love that someone else is quoting the “If I woke up broke” post. I was asked numerous times about what happens next now that my early retirement since this crash came on my one year anniversary of leaving work: Okay. So what? The worse case scenario is I hustle for money. The current scenario has been anywhere from 18-21x annual living expenses, marketable skills if needed, and a diversified portfolio.

    Financial Independence or the FIRE movement isn’t dead. Retailers are shut down? Oh no. I can’t go spend money?
    Oh no. FI folks were made for this.

    I love the encouragement to go explore what you enjoy. We all only get one shot on this earth and should make the best of it!

    • Amy April 14, 2020, 6:22 pm

      Yes, I agree, FI folks were made for this! So far, we have been thriving to the point I almost feel guilty. We’ve been having family dinners, getting outside, playing games, and seeing friends with virtual happy hours. My gas tank is still full for a month now.

    • CPA4FI April 17, 2020, 2:58 pm

      I can’t agree more. THIS IS THE FI LIFE. Consumerism is on hold while we are forced to spend time with our families!

      • Rad April 28, 2020, 3:34 pm

        I saw a sign outside of a now closed church. It said something like: “We are all waiting for this to end so we can get back to work. Years from now we will wish this time with our families had lasted longer.” Or one at a still open hardware: “Remember all those odd jobs you told the wife you would do when you had the time?”

        I agree, consumerism is overated.

  • Hanno April 14, 2020, 6:17 pm

    Marla, beautiful article and thank you for the recap on a simple, yet ingenious recipe for a great life. After all, and as Mustachians know, the happiness of our life depends mainly on the quality of our thoughts, and while this is easier said than done I am personally grateful for people like you and MMM who help to remind us on this ancient wisdom.
    MMM, thank you very much for prescribing this medicine, which I started to take a couple years ago in Germany, before settling in the U.S. – Forever grateful for the insight and the change of perspective that has triggered.

  • Claire April 14, 2020, 6:38 pm

    I too took early retirement a couple of years ago. Since I live in a part of Canada with a hugely overheated real estate market, I had the decision: retire early and live off investments (while continuing to rent), or blow everything on buying a home and perhaps never have enough to retire on. I chose option ‘a’. So far it’s been great – up until the coronavirus.

    My question to you is, if you also rent (or live in a condo), would you have done anything differently if you had foreknowledge of COVID-19? I live in an apartment building where we must negotiate multiple common spaces to go outside, pick up the post or do our laundry. This has complicated my family’s efforts to be safe, and I’m finding I am feeling unexpectedly envious of my friends with houses, especially their private entrances and laundry rooms. I never expected to wonder (for example) if every time we walk out our apartment door we’re putting ourselves at risk of inhaling aerosols left behind by others in our unventilated hallways. It doesn’t help that some tenants are still somewhat casual about distancing!

    • Marla April 15, 2020, 1:19 pm

      Hi Claire – I too live in an overheated real estate market (Vancouver) and was lucky enough to buy in early and sold my house at a crazy profit. I am very happy renting now (a house). I think you have made a very wise choice (renting and investing) in spite of the worrisome issues caused by the virus. I understand how you may be questioning your current situation but I’m sure you’re doing everything you can to minimize risk, which is all you can control. We’re all in this together!

      • Karlhungus April 27, 2020, 7:17 pm

        What percentage of your initial stache came from the sale of your house ?

  • Gwen April 14, 2020, 7:19 pm

    MARLA!! Excellent post. Well worth the wait for your first post :D

    A very practical voice in a world of crazy. I hope I get to hear your practical voice in person this year at some point…… if you can sneak into the US :)

    • Marla April 15, 2020, 1:20 pm

      GWEN!! Thank you so much. Hope to see you in person this year too! Stay safe!

  • Kristin April 14, 2020, 7:29 pm

    Hi Marla. I could hear your voice in my head as I was reading your post. Thank you for writing this.

    • Marla April 15, 2020, 1:22 pm

      Hi Kristin! Thanks for reading – you are most welcome! Hope to see you in person one day soon! Take care!

  • Amy R April 14, 2020, 10:12 pm

    When Tim looked up and said “Marla wrote a post on MMM”, I figured he meant some other Marla. Well, there is NO “some other Marla”. You have picked a splendid time to start your blogging adventure. And, I hope your first post isn’t also your last post.

    What a gift to share your wonderful perspective with the world. Sending you love, my sweet!

    • Marla April 16, 2020, 11:28 am

      Awww, thanks my friends! Can’t wait to reconnect in person before too long! Xo

  • Florian April 15, 2020, 1:39 am

    Do you realy say schadenfreude in America?
    Does that mean it is typically German?

    Greetings from Germany

    • Greg April 16, 2020, 10:16 am

      Yes, Schadenfreude is used commonly in America. It’s a great word!

    • Marla April 16, 2020, 11:34 am

      I love the word – no easy translation into English (but I am Canadian, so I can’t comment on frequency of use in America). Greetings to you too, and thanks for reading! Stay safe!

      • Florian April 17, 2020, 5:30 am

        …and i thought, Canada is part of America…;-)
        Google translator suggests malicious joy.

    • Ashley April 17, 2020, 7:24 pm

      We actually have a song about schadenfreude: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCQGQ5qBQTA

      It’s from the musical Avenue Q and it’s hilarious.

  • kruidigmeisje April 15, 2020, 2:35 am

    our FIRE date was 1 april 2020….. (me at 51, hubby at 58). So it feels weird that the whole world tunes in with not going to work, a little comforting too (no uncomfortable questions about staying at home).
    We had planned a big bike trip – that is put on hold obviously. But the bikes, tent and gear will keep, so no sweat there. And we already have experience with living a good life with books, crafts, cooking, making a beautiful, sturdy and well insulated home ourselves, so that just feels comfy. @Marla:how do you find your projects where to spend your time on? Where to travel? What to do? What is your compass/logic in choosing? For us that is choosing between all the many many alternatives (for some it might be finding any).

    • Marla April 15, 2020, 1:31 pm

      Congrats on achieving FIRE!! Wow, some crazy timing! It sounds like you have a great attitude about your new circumstances in spite of how different they are to what you were planning. I stopped working 7 years ago so have definitely evolved in my thinking and activities over time. At the beginning I travelled a ton – no real rhyme or reason, just finding friends to travel with or visit and off I went. Then I went through a more introspective period of a couple of years reading a lot and kind of working on “finding myself”. I feel much wiser and more content now. Happy to enjoy simple pleasures and not to be in a big rush or prove to myself or others what a great life I’m leading. My advice for you is to just enjoy your freedom and see what unfolds for you! I hope you have an amazing bike trip and that you get to start it soon!! All the best!

  • BenK April 15, 2020, 4:32 am

    Thanks from Aus Marla

    I can’t believe all the sensationalist press about the the end of FI. This whole crisis just proves how correct the precepts are. And how much all those non-monetary factors in our lives actually do mean after all. Take care of yourselves my tribe across the ocean! !

  • Juan April 15, 2020, 6:41 am

    Hi Marla!
    Good to hear from you. Agree that the low information diet can be particularly helpful in these times, as well as many of the other principles of Mustachianism.
    I have been able to handle the whole situation fairly well so far (haven’t lost sleep over it, etc.). Much credit goes to having built a solid financial foundation, and having read posts such the “circle of control” and “outrageous optimism”.

    Stay well and hope to see you soon at one of the many events when events are a thing again :)

    • Marla April 15, 2020, 1:32 pm

      Hi Juan! I hope events are a thing again soon too and that we will meet again! All the best to you guys!

  • fireby35 April 15, 2020, 7:37 am

    Marla! Hello from Omaha. Nice post :)

    • D. C. April April 15, 2020, 8:42 am

      Yes, very well written, and with lots of great reminders. Thank you, Marla! I hope you write more blog posts. :)

    • Marla April 15, 2020, 1:33 pm

      Hello Omaha! Thank you!

  • STBJ April 15, 2020, 11:56 am

    Great post. I cannot FIRE because I did not get this figured out in time. However, I know my portfolio is bouncing back and since I am still working I increased my profit sharing contribution. I only use 25% of what MMM suggests but that 25% will allow me to retire comfortable and live a less expensive life now. Thanks for inserting the chart. It provides a great perspective.

  • Sean Merron April 15, 2020, 12:17 pm

    I see you in the back right Marla (and Brandon). Awesome post!!

    • Marla April 15, 2020, 1:33 pm

      Hi Sean!

  • seattlecyclone April 15, 2020, 12:18 pm

    Hi Marla, good to hear from you! I remember meeting you at a rainforest lodge in Peru. I was on a trip meeting up with some friends who happened to be serving in the Peace Corps in South America at the time, and you were on your way to the Chautauqua in Ecuador. We were on a boat ride together, got to talking, and of course Mustachianism and FIRE came up. I was struck in that moment by how small the world really is.

    I’m glad you’re still living the dream. I just left the corporate world myself last year. This pandemic isn’t what I envisioned for my first spring of FIRE, but better times are surely ahead.

    • Marla April 16, 2020, 11:39 am

      You will always be my favourite “small world” story! The funniest part was how your friend kept asking what “Financial Conference” I was attending in Ecuador because I was too embarrassed to admit I had booked a trip all alone to meet a blogger I admired. Congrats on your new phase in life, hope to cross paths again one day!

  • Barrett April 15, 2020, 12:27 pm

    Marla, what things about your favorite days happen because you have reached financial independence, and which ones are things that also happened while you were working your way towards it?

    • Marla April 15, 2020, 1:42 pm

      Hi Barrett – such a great question! I always say “The Fog of Work” by Doug Nordman at themilitaryguide.com is my favourite blog post for just this reason. I had so many amazing days before FIRE, but I’m not sure I appreciated them at the time. All of the great moments happen all the way along if you just look for them – I just think the hamster wheel of work left me tired and always looking toward the future rather than really living in the moment. I would tell my younger self to not give quite as much of my self to my career. Be a great worker, but not let it bleed into evenings and weekends nor take up too much mental space even when not at work. The best moments before FIRE were spending time with friends and loved ones and those are still the best moments now! All the best on your journey!

  • Chuck Albacore April 15, 2020, 12:28 pm

    Hello from Maine, Marla. Nice job on the article.
    If you’re Chancellor of Fun, what’s my title?

    • Marla April 15, 2020, 12:58 pm

      “The most interesting man in the world” of course!

    • Carl April 15, 2020, 3:59 pm

      Is this The Wolf of MMM Street in disguise? If you have no idea what I’m talking about carry on.

      But, shouldn’t you be Larry Lobster?

  • Rosalind April 15, 2020, 12:48 pm

    Have you any tips on how to find ways to travel safely overseas as a single female? That’s to say, without paying the exorbitant prices of organised singles tours, but still with nice, fun people. Once the world gets back to international travel again!

    • Marla April 16, 2020, 11:44 am

      Hi Rosalind! Yes! Start by meeting some fellow Mustachians and/or FIRE folks (meetups, Camp Mustache, Camp FI, or ChooseFi local groups). Suddenly you will have friends to travel with or visit! I would also note that I have travelled alone internationally and felt very safe. When you travel alone you tend to meet other solo travellers. Let’s hope we can all get back out there soon!

  • caren magill April 15, 2020, 1:05 pm

    My first question is – why don’t you have a blog of your own? You’re an amazing writer!

    Next question, are you still living in Canada? If so, can you mail some ketchup chips to the US? This no-man’s land doesn’t have access to such delicacies!

    ~ hopelessly hungry in Texas

    • Marla April 16, 2020, 11:48 am

      Hi Caren – thank you for the compliment and encouragement! Ahhh, ketchup chips, the gourmet Canadian delicacy! If only the border wasn’t closed!

  • Derreck April 15, 2020, 1:37 pm

    Marla made some wonderful points. Now is a great time to experiment a new recipe in the kitchen, pick up that guitar or other musical instrument, read a recommended book, or watch a movie. My job has a book club and we read an inspirational (usually business or success focused) book once a month and share our findings/thoughts on a Friday lunch videocall. I’m also blessed in that I get to spend more time with my five month old daughter and wife.

  • Kyrie Robinson April 15, 2020, 2:21 pm

    Hi Pete & Marla
    Thanks for the inspiration. The news has been dragging me down lately, and after reading your column, I cancelled my 3 newspaper digital subscriptions and deleted all my bookmarks. I did a news-fast in 2016 after the election, and it was great. Getting back on the news bandwagon 2 years ago was not a good decision in hindsight.

    I was able to quit social media 10 yrs ago with little trouble. But I find it harder to quit news entirely bc people keep sending me links in text or email and I get sucked back in. Any thoughts or advice about that?


  • Dharma Bum April 15, 2020, 3:09 pm

    One of the best pieces of advice I received from MMM on this blog was to IGNORE THE NEWS.

    Ever since I started ignoring the bullshit that spews out 24/7 from mainstream media outlets like television, radio, and print, and from secondary and fringe sources (like whackjobs on YouTube, psycho blogs, etc.), my perspective on life has become way saner and logical. Almost nothing we hear on the so-called news is even remotely true.

    How do I know this?

    Well, I just wait a bit, and then whatever the doom and gloom that was predicted on the news days and weeks earlier just doesn’t actually materialize.

    Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!! We’re all gonna die. PANIC! PANIC! PANIC!

    It’s fraudulent information at worst, and seriously misleading tripe at best. News has become a bizarre form of masochistic entertainment. If you like torturing yourself, then watch, listen to, or read the “news”.

    I took “early retirement” over 2 years ago, and have been crazy busy with one thing or another since then.
    Extensive travel, multiple home renovations, my children’s weddings, my father’s funeral, my mother’s old age care, cleaning out and selling her house, my children’s graduations, my daughter’s business reorganization, and numerous other projects have definitely occupied the majority of my time. In a good way. I was able to do and pay attention to things that I never could have, had I been “working” at a traditional full time job.

    Now that we have all been forced into “quarantine” and “self-isolation” and “social distancing”, I’m actually kind of enjoying the extended periods of downtime to read a ton of books, analyze and re-balance my portfolio, cook seriously great meals every day (using multiple types of heat sources, including a gas stove, fire pit, barbecue, and smoker), watch high quality television productions (American and international, and “Tiger King” – oh YAH, what a guilty pleasure), classic and new movies, interesting documentaries, read archived MMM posts and Jim Collins posts, watch and listen to different podcasts, go for super long walks every day and haul back groceries in a back pack, and do more “face-timing” than I care to.

    As the weather improves, I’m looking forward to getting a head start on my yard work and house painting. The 20 year old Harley Davidson is also just itching to be ridden, so in between outdoor chores, I’ll take it for some extended cruises. (Yes, I know, I still need to get myself a real bike – one that uses human power! This summer, for SURE!).

    So, early retirement has been great practice for the so-called pandemic. By not listening to the news, I am theoretically unaware that the market tanked, and even if it did, by the time I checked, my stuff wasn’t too far off where it had been. As MMM reminds everyone, it’s an opportunity to re-balance and pick up a few bargains in the process, while optimistically looking forward to the dawn of a new day when all of the doom and gloom will be behind us, businesses will be up and running again, and life eventually gets back to normal. Normal for the non- retirees, that is.

    I’m already at my normal, thanks to the sage advice of our fearless leader, MMM.

    Time to cook dinner now.

    See y’all.

    • Dave April 15, 2020, 5:24 pm

      Ignoring the news is crucial. Their job is to shock readers with terrifying headlines. Then in the actual article they bury the real data that would be boring to a reader

      • Obzen April 15, 2020, 7:14 pm

        This is all truer than you might suspect. I read somewhere recently, I can’t remember where, that the sea change came in the last ten-ish years or so when they figured out how to track the specific clicks of specific people and how to monetize all that. Because of that they were better able to figure out what specific kind of content generated the most traffic, and more specifically that the content that generates the most content, and thus money, is that which generates outrage and fear the most in people. (And this is without even factoring in all the stuff that’s coming out about social media’s techniques for manipulating users dopamine levels, etc.) I’m sure you can see the implications of that. It explains quite a bit about the tone of politics these days, explains how something like the present situation could blow up so big.

        But further I realized that’s what the internet has become today. (and even the traditional media is joining in on this) The Internet has become a giant human irrationality amplifier. Like crack cocaine for people who are prone to joining the movement of the mob and/or are prone to “mass sociogenic illness”, or mass hysteria as it’s more commonly known.

        Interesting times indeed….

    • Ms Blaise April 17, 2020, 12:58 am

      I always love your posts Dharma Bum.

  • carl April 15, 2020, 5:41 pm

    Marla! While I’m sad that I probably won’t see you as regularly scheduled (2 weeks), it was good to see you here!

    Let’s have a big party when the world comes back to normal. And that shit better be in 2020!

    • Marla April 16, 2020, 11:52 am

      I am with you on the need for a big party when this is all over! So sad so many fun plans must be postponed. Take care in the meantime!

  • Katja April 15, 2020, 6:35 pm

    Great post thank you!! I’ve been following you for several years and love the whole FIRE movement. All of your advice resonates with me and I have sent your website to numerous people. Not everyone lives like this however but those that do are more comfortable riding out this most unfortunate storm. A lot of good will hopefully come from this as people realize that health, family and great friends are what matter most. Be safe all!!

  • Court April 15, 2020, 7:24 pm

    Thank you Marla for this lovely post! Where in Canada are you located? We’re just outside of Calgary and would love to connect if you happen to also be in Alberta?! Always looking to meet more local Canadian FIRE folks.

    • Marla April 16, 2020, 11:54 am

      Hi Court – you are welcome, thanks for reading! I am in Vancouver. I think I have heard you on podcasts though?

    • pachipres May 21, 2020, 5:51 pm

      We are FI and live in Saskatoon. Send me an email and we can talk,! lobe1@hotmail.com and it’s Lorna

  • Sandra, Italy April 15, 2020, 11:14 pm

    Hi Marla,
    Loved this post, it really resonated with me! Looking forward to the next, maybe delving deeper into your travels :)

    • Marla April 16, 2020, 11:57 am

      Hi Sandra! I’m so glad you liked it. Sending best wishes to you in Italy! Andrà tutto bene!

  • stephan April 16, 2020, 8:17 am

    Great post! Critics of Mustachian overlook that the main point is mentally, about developing a mindset that appreciates the daily pleasures, seeks to build skills, welcomes some hardship, and understands the folly of using money to buy happiness.

    I have followed many of the advices here, and as a result have been more, not less, prepared for this crisis. Thank you MMM for that!

    • Dan April 19, 2020, 5:26 pm

      Agreed, even if the market were to go back down again from its current partial rebound and some of the less FI Mustachians had to go back to work for a while they could buy when the market is down. Thus either way Mustachians are prepped for this. 😃

  • Shane April 16, 2020, 8:19 am

    I want to ask Marla if she read the book I sent her, and when are we gonna hike the AT while having discussions of how to solve all the world’s problems?

    • Marla April 16, 2020, 3:06 pm

      Shane! OMG, our fireside debates could get extra fiery these days! I’m so glad you two did so much amazing travel before all this craziness! Of course I read the book – I’m sure I thanked you!? If we don’t hike the AT I hope we can solve the world’s problems in person some time soon.

  • Molly McLaughlin April 16, 2020, 10:20 am

    “Our homes have never been this clean. ” Speak for yourself LOL.

    • Cameron April 20, 2020, 12:20 am

      Yeah, I hear you there! My kids are making sure my house is *never* clean… plus they’re so deprived of attention due to me working from home, all my free time is taken up playing with them. My house has never been this *dirty*!

  • Jason April 16, 2020, 12:10 pm

    Hey Marla, Jason from the first Chautauqua here! Great post, glad to hear all is well for you~ Hard to believe it was…what?…6 years ago?

    • Marla April 21, 2020, 8:31 am

      Jason! So nice to hear from you. Hope you are doing well in these crazy times! Stay safe!

  • Roy Ware April 16, 2020, 1:05 pm


    I am glad you mentioned that this web site is not just about retiring early. It is mostly about having more freedom to create your own lifestyle and to THINK about what you want and what you value. THINK gets all caps as it seems like it is a skill in low supply. MMM has encouraged you to try a new way. Thanks, Roy

  • Jimmy April 17, 2020, 3:07 pm

    Great post! During this pandemic, it has given us a lot of time to hang out with our family. And to give us time to really catch up on the things we have been putting off around the house. Luckily for me I am still working, but this pandemic has given me time to start a blog. I just started and it is not much, but it is about my path to FIRE as a first responder.

  • Mary April 17, 2020, 5:44 pm

    My husband and I read the book Your Money Or Your Life about 30-40 years ago. As we go into this time of virus, I am so happy that we have lived the way we have. No debt. Own our million+ home. (recently made 2 Airbnb spaces in said home which this year would have made us 50,000 if virus didn’t happen) Anecdote: the woman who cleans for us who lives paycheck to paycheck just bought a 70,000$ vehicle which she can’t afford. This lifestyle that y’all promote is one of conscientiousness and integrity. I love following you!!

    • Chip April 18, 2020, 9:25 pm

      Your anecdote would be a lot more interesting if it spoke to how you helped the woman who cleans your house understand and recover from her folly. People generally do those things from a lack of education and influence, not simply because that’s “who they are”.

    • Married to a Swabian April 19, 2020, 5:01 am

      Mary, the book you might want to read next is, “Nickel and Dimed” by Barbara Ehrenreich. It came out out over 20 years ago. Unfortunately, the huge gap between the haves and have-nots in the US has only gotten much larger since then. I agree with Chip, your tone-deaf anecdote is disturbing. Hard working folks living paycheck to paycheck deserve compassion and additional support, not scorn. What are you doing during the pandemic to help this loyal servant who scrubs your many toilets while you drink vino?

      • Jeff Kruzic April 24, 2020, 7:37 am

        I think a few above here may be a little hard on Mary with her post line about her cleaning lady. ( Anecdote: the woman who cleans for us who lives paycheck to paycheck just bought a 70,000$ vehicle which she can’t afford.)

        It is an unfortunate reality that people in the lower hand-to-mouth living situation make terrible mistakes with managing money that HELPS to keep them where they are in life. Yeah, I’ve gotta say that during this COVID-19 experience, watching the people on the news that are flat broke after missing one paycheck need to look at their spending.

        How many of these people have smart phones, cable TV, and car loans? If you really want to help them, convince them that they should RID themselves of these excesses until they can recover financially and get in a better position.

        I own the book “Nickel and Dimed” and have read it several times. It’s a great book and yes, the divide between the haves and the have nots is growing, and not always due to their financial mistakes. However, I wish they taught people in school how to manage money, what’s really important when you’re on a tight budget, and what is media-driven bull shit!

        I wish them well in this crisis, and hope that we all get through this, if possible, in a better place.

        • Elaine May 6, 2020, 3:43 pm

          And for all we know Mary may have tried to help her cleaning lady. I tried with one of my clients who owns a great big hocking Ford F-150 because she can’t afford it. Her reply was that she feels safe in it. And she continues to get newer ones. One day she’ll run out of money and not know why, but I tried (more than once).

  • Dan April 18, 2020, 7:24 pm

    I’m not exactly a young retiree, age 54. But I’ve been following MMM for three plus years. Have lived a Mustachian-In-Training lifestyle since January 2017 while working a good paying full time job and maxing out my savings. It’s been hard for me to “give-up” my profession as an engineer. The plan was to retire in October just before my 55th birthday. But since most of my former company’s customers are in the aerospace industry they are having a major downturn. Therefore yesterday Friday April 17th was my Official FIRE Day. WooHoo !

    • Marla April 19, 2020, 1:42 pm

      Congrats Dan! Sorry to hear your FIRE date was due to unfortunate circumstances, but what a gift to be ready for the unexpected. All the best!

    • Katie Camel April 24, 2020, 6:05 pm

      Woohoo!! Congratulations!! Enjoy retirement! :)

    • WTK April 26, 2020, 7:33 am

      Hi Dan,

      Have a great retirement journey!


  • Trip Seibold April 21, 2020, 11:18 am

    Great post Marla!

    What line of work were you in during your 15 year career? Which year was the first Chautauqua where you met MMM?

    I’ve been retired for over 31 months now (wife at over 37 months). Not that much has changed for us and our 2 little ones.

    FYI – I’m running for office in Texas in November 2020

    I wish you and your family prosperous, long lives,
    Trip Seibold

    • Marla April 22, 2020, 9:01 am

      Hi Trip –

      Sounds like you’re making great use of your post-FI time – good luck with your election! The first Chautauqua was in 2013 and I worked in Marketing in the pro-sports industry.

      All the best to you!

      • Trip Seibold April 25, 2020, 3:52 pm

        Thanks Marla!

        I’m putting what I can into the election and trusting that whatever result comes is what is meant to be. Most importantly, I’m having fun with it.

        I find it serendipitous that your career was in marketing for pro sports.

        My two primary areas of focus for social change are mental health education & wellness and financial literacy education.

        I wrote a blog post nearly 3 years ago about having professional athletes (& musicians & television stars) be powerful advocates for financial literacy. It’s titled Leveraging the NBA to Improve Financial Literacy. MMM is an excellent ambassador of quan for so many people, but his reach only goes so far. If we truly desire to reach the masses, then alternative solutions need to be pursued.

        Our educational systems [at least in the US} certainly aren’t doing the job of teaching our younger generations about personal accountability and good decision making with regards to money. Nor are the households.

        So where to turn? I say turn to exactly those voices in marketing who are currently sending the high level consumerism messaging throughout our society.

        What are your thoughts about this? Could it work? Do you happen to have any connections with pro athletes (active or retired) or college athletes that may have an interest in being a voice of reason?

        Peace and long life,
        Trip Seibold

  • Brian Ashworth April 24, 2020, 6:17 am

    I’ve been retired from full time work for 6 years and part time work for three years.

    The way I look at things the ONLY problem I have is that I can’t travel internationally at the moment.

    I have always had around 30% of my funds in a low risk option which means I have 5 – 6 years money while the ‘growth’ assets recovers.

    At the moment my expenses have dropped significantly; No meals out (never been a big fan of takeaways so just more home cooking); Can’t have holidays, Less driving; Lower petrol prices, No movies.

    I feel sorry for the people who haven’t retired

  • Katie Camel April 24, 2020, 6:04 pm

    Aw, I LOVED this post! Thank you, MMM, for having Marla as a guest poster!

    Today at lunch, my fellow nurses and I were lamenting the challenges of this pandemic. We didn’t utter a single word about our jobs – we’re all thankful we have jobs – but NO ONE wants to be near us. We desperately miss our friends and family (those we don’t live with), but we know we can’t risk exposing them to anything we’ve been exposed to at work. It broke my heart to decline my niece’s Easter invitation. And I am aching to visit my family. I am equally aching to see my friends — I can’t tell you what’d I give to roast marshmallows and laugh with one of my best friends. Yes, we chat often, but it’s not the same. Quality time with the ones you love absolutely makes for the best days.

    As awful as I feel for all the restaurant owners and workers, I’m not a huge restaurant patron, so I don’t miss that aspect of life too much. A little. Not much. If anything, I miss dropping into my favorite coffee shop to enjoy a cappuccino and maybe a slice of their deliciously rich chocolate cake. And I miss more trails being open for walks/hikes/runs. Waiting in line to grocery shop is annoying too.

    But this will end at some point. We’re still luckier than most people on this great earth, that’s for sure! Stay safe, all!

    • Dan April 25, 2020, 7:51 am

      Thanks for the congratulations on my recent FIRE.

      I’m pretty sure your niece understood why you had to miss Easter.

      We do appreciate everything the nurses, doctors, first responders, and other medical care workers are doing. Know it’s not easy. But stay as safe as you can.

    • Marla April 25, 2020, 11:38 am

      Thanks so much for reading Katie. If my post brought you even a little bit of cheer, I am very glad. Sending you and your colleagues big virtual hugs and buckets of gratitude. Stay safe!

    • Carrie April 25, 2020, 11:40 am

      Katie, your post resonated with me. I’m also a nurse who missed my Easter trip to spend time with my nieces and nephews due to working through the pandemic. I work in oncology with patients receiving chemotherapy, so they’re more than usually susceptible to the virus. I work in a large inner city, in the county with the most cases in our state. While trying to distance myself from too much media nonsense the MMM way, I try to balance the flow of information vs media-induced terror, so that I can properly educate my patients, many of whom must use public transit and perform shopping themselves due to lack of social support. You and I are fortunate during this time, indeed ❤️

      I have been behind on MMM reading during this busy time but wanted to say thanks for posting, so that I could read and share in solidarity. Hang in there! We’ll be back to grooming our mustaches more regularly soon 🙂

  • Josh Overmyer April 24, 2020, 8:58 pm

    It was great to finally meet you last year, and thanks again for allowing me to stay on your couch when I came to visit Bianca in LG. We didn’t get to talk much, but I felt like we have a LOT we agree on. I agree with everything you’ve written here!
    Thanks Pete for sharing! It was good to hang out with you last fall, too!
    I look forward to many future “hanging out” times ahead of us all.

    • Marla April 27, 2020, 11:08 am

      Hi Josh! Thanks for reading! I too look forward to chatting more in person when hanging out resumes. All the best in the meantime!

  • CaptainFI April 26, 2020, 10:18 pm

    Great article, thanks for sharing Marla. I also feel that ‘mustachianism’ is my secret super power for dealing with a difficult time like this. Having an extremely (well, comparitively!) low cost of living and simple lifestyle, coupled with a nice fat emergency fund and liquid investments in shares means us Mustachians are well set to weather the storm. I have seen a drop in dividend yield and had some reduced dividends paid out this month, but not as bad as the capital value of my portfolio fell; either way, I don’t much worry about either of these as I am still about 2 years from financial independence. I’m going to keep working hard, living well below my means, punch myself in the face every time I use my clown car to commute to the airport and aggressively double down on ultra low fee total world index ETFs. Whilst I am still working I see this for the amazing opportunity that it is to buy shares on sale.

  • Stephanie April 28, 2020, 12:56 pm

    Marla thank you so much for this post. It’s so important to have people like voice the sound of optimism during these times. You’re right, this is probably the best time to follow the Mustachian train. I’ve been so focused on what’s lacking in my life right now and trying to make up for it that I’ve forgotten about all of the good things in life that we still have.

  • Kevin April 29, 2020, 12:05 pm

    Thanks for the uplifting article, Marla! I know you mentioned you had large cash reserves for times like these, but have you been intentionally spending less to compensate the 30% dip in the market? I’m curious how you’re handling this pandemic on the financial side of things. Thanks!

  • Dan May 1, 2020, 3:14 pm

    Since I’m pretty aggressive about self isolation I’m spending less. The market has sprung way back from 30% off. But some people think 🤔 this is far from over and the market has come back too far too fast.

  • frank Hinde May 3, 2020, 1:12 pm

    Good post.

    I retired Jan 9th 2014. We found the need to go travel crazy in the first few years, but being cheap we realised that is makes much more sense to take long trips (like 2 months) and see a lot of places at the destination. For example in 2016 we went to Thailand but while there it made sense to go do China and the Philippines as well..:)

    The only trouble with these kids of trips is they are exhausting! So much so that we find we now travel every 2 years and recover during the off year.

    Our travel budget runs about 32% of the total and (like many people) our spend since the lockdown has plummeted.

    So yeah, savings dip by 30% and so has spending.. Net result.. No difference…. Keep on being retired..:)

  • marko May 3, 2020, 8:13 pm

    Thanks so much for this article. The second-last paragraph prompted me to do a writing exercise about what makes a great day for me… this led to me writing for 2 hours (!) …. out came all the insights and realizations that have been coalescing during this forced downtime…

    long story short, I think I’m much closer to the life i want than I realized. much of that realization came from your article, and the thinking it caused me to do. thank you! <3

  • brucegrimm May 19, 2020, 6:50 am

    great read! I am in a spot where I can potentially have the freedom if controlling my schedule as a full time basketball trainer. Being in Indiana, having the skillset, and being great with kids has helped me build a foundation at roughly $4,000 a month. But with 3 kids it’s hard for me to pull the trigger , though I know I’d add more training sessions. I think of health insurance, the varying 2 to 3 slower winter months , though last winter I was still maintaining 15 to 17 sessions during this time. I really think I can get to 5500 to 6000 9 to 10 months out of the year and 3 to 4 the other 2 months. Any advice, helpful tactics, or gameplan would be appreciated! *I work as a commercial insurance agent as well. though it is must 40 hours in the office.

  • George Choy July 10, 2020, 4:22 am

    Thanks Marla
    My wife and I became financially free when she was 39. It’s been a few years for us now.

    We’ve avoided watching and listening to the news for a few years now. Mostly We just look at websites that curate content on property investing – as that is our main source of income.

    Thanks again. I hope all is well.


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