His claim to fame is that he retired at age 30. He swears that you can achieve greater financial freedom too, if you follow his example by eliminating unnecessary expenses and investing wisely. He calls himself Mr. Money Mustache. And he says nothing is more essential to his philosophy and wealth-building strategy than riding a bike.
Mr. Money Mustache rides through the snow with 85 pounds of groceries. Pin this picture up next to your car keys. Photo: MMM
Mr. MM (his real name is Pete, but that’s no fun) has been dishing out lifestyle advice on his personal finance blog for two years to a faithful following that now numbers about 300,000 regular readers. In a recent interview with the Washington Post, he counseled prospective early retirees to live close to work and “of course, ride a bike.” In fact, MMM says, it’ll take you forever to retire if you keep wasting money on cars. He estimates it costs a person $125,000 and 1.3 working years’ worth of time to drive 19 miles each way to work.
Living so far from work that you “need” to drive is a result of bad planning, he says, and should be remedied — or “optimized” — as quickly as possible. Riding a bike is the boiled-down essence of everything he preaches. He rejects the idea that his readers can “just follow the rest of his advice, while ignoring the bike parts.”
“It’s time for this silliness to come to an end,” he wrote earlier this month. “You must ride a bike. We all must.”
I’ll let you read on your own about how driving a car is like throwing away 24 blackened salmon salads, and the three questions you should always ask yourself before getting behind the wheel.
Streetsblog caught up with Mr. Money Moustache recently to talk more about how sensible transportation decisions fit into an economically sound lifestyle — and, of course, early retirement for us car-free Streetsblog editors.
Tanya Snyder: Last month was Anti-Automobile April. What did that consist of? How did it go?
Mr. Money Moustache: Anti-Automobile April was a little experiment where I tried to make the readers of my blog track their own driving for the month. My hope was that they would become more aware of it and hopefully consider canceling some of their trips, combining some of the smaller trips into fewer ones, and most importantly, replacing some of the local ones with bike trips.
TS: You take a refreshingly reasonable view of cars — that if a trip’s benefits outweighs its costs, it’s worth it, but most don’t. But obviously, there are times when you find taking a car worthwhile. What are those times?
MMM: Yeah, I am certainly not an anti-car zealot. I secretly love those machines. I love driving them, sitting in them, and reading about them. And for some reason, I have the technical stats for almost every model available in the U.S. memorized.
But you just have to realize what they’re good for.