Front Range

Early Retirement

Meet Pete: the 38-year-old Longmont resident who is living the dream of someone twice his age. 

August 2013

Pete is retired—and he swears you can be, too. In fact, he dishes out retirement advice on his blog, Mr. Money Mustache, which has had more than 21 million page views. Scroll through to find missives on everything from ditching your car to increasing your stock dividends. mrmoneymustache.com

NAME: Pete,* aka Mr. Money
HOBBIES: Building/renovating houses, cycling, snowboarding, travel, parenting
FINANCIAL STRATEGY: It’s never too early to save. As a kid, Pete ironed his $20 bills and preserved them in a photo album.
*Pete goes only by his first name because he frequently writes about personal financial information.
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You retired in 2005, at age 30. What inspired that decision?
Both my now-wife and I worked in software—I was an engineer at Cisco in Boulder—and over our nine-year careers, we each made an average of $67,000 a year. Still, we were thinking about starting a family and thought it would be ideal to not have to work. That was the motivator.

How do you survive without working—and raise a kid who’s now seven?
When we retired, we’d saved about $800,000. We only spend about $25,000 a year, and I make some money in stocks and through a rental house we own. More important, our mortgage is paid off, I bike everywhere instead of driving, we don’t have a TV, and we cook instead of eating out. This is the best life we could lead. Spending less doesn’t mean less happiness—that’s the biggest misconception people have.

Those are good tips—but there must be a secret formula for early retirement.
If you live on 50 percent of your take-home pay and invest the difference, you can retire in 17 years—even sooner if you save more.

Why did you start the blog?
After we retired, our friends with jobs and high salaries were still living paycheck to paycheck. They kept saying, “How can you retire? That’s ridiculous!” It’s just a matter of adjusting your spending and buying less stuff.

What money mistakes are the rest of us making?
Incurring credit card debt is the biggest because interest rates are so high. If you can’t pay back your bill in full at the end of the month, it’s an emergency. Driving is
another mistake. People drive everywhere—even two miles to the grocery store. Between gas, maintenance, and insurance, you’re burning hundreds of thousands of dollars over a decade.

What’s your biggest indulgence?
Our house is kind of luxurious. It’s 2,600 square feet, all renovated—I did it myself—in a nice neighborhood. Also, we’ve switched to buying fancier food, like grass-fed beef and organic milk. It’s just tastier. We travel, too. We go on cross-country road trips—yes, I drive sometimes—and spend summers in Canada visiting relatives. Last winter, we spent seven weeks in Hawaii. I helped a blog reader build an addition onto his house, and then we stayed in it.

Run us through your typical day.
My days vary, but they never start with an alarm clock. I don’t like waking up unnaturally. I cook breakfast for my family, and then sometimes my wife and I go hiking. Maybe I have a carpentry project. I write the blog, too. I’m plenty busy. I don’t even know how I’d have a job anymore.