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Why Simply Living Sideburns?

I’m going to start with a big, uncomfortable truth. I’ve made some shitty financial decisions in my life.

Most of them happened in my early twenties, when I was somehow convinced that I could move out my parents’ house and live on Starbucks barista pay and finish my last year (which turned into three years) of college all at the same time. This was in New York, a city well known for ridiculous rent. 

By my mid twenties, I was making just enough money to be paying all of it back toward my earlier mistakes.

Now I’m 30, and free of all debt except student loans (which are manageable, but I’d like to get paid off), and looking bright eyed and optimistically toward the future. I’m determined not to live within such a tight margin again. And on May 7th, 2012, the East Bay Bicycle Coalition linked to www.mrmoneymustache.com as part of their Bike to Work Day celebrations. The article was about how much money biking can save you, but I hungrily consumed the rest of the site, going back and reading every article since the beginning. I finished this last night, on 5/27. It’s been quite a journey.

I’ve been congratulating myself for the things I already do, kicking myself for the things I’ve known I should be doing but haven’t, and learning a hell of a lot. What I love about MMM compared to any other finance blog I’ve read is that his version of the good life is sustainable and good for the environment. It makes sense in a very old fashioned way – live within your means, don’t waste, don’t buy anything unless you really need it, and then, if you must buy something, try to get it used. Don’t fill up landfills with packaging, and don’t eat fast food!

I think that the trap that I fall into is that I work hard and don’t make a lot of money, and then my bitterness about that reinforces that little voice in the back of my head that tells me to indulge myself by buying pricey meals whenever I have extra in my account. But no – if I want to have a good life, I need to save, and get rid of those student loans. I can do that even at my current income, and if I get to the point where I’m pulling in more, I’ve already developed the frugality muscles to put that extra money in helpful places.

Even before learning about Mustachianism, I had gotten rid of my car, gotten into biking, and bought (or found for free) most of my furniture on Craigslist or from yard sales. I had begun to put a healthy chunk of my check toward my 401k. I’m a natural homebody, preferring my homestead to paying for social events. My big expense has been food, because I *love* good food. But if I want to eat well, I need to cook it, or convince someone in my house to. 🙂 And even at Walgreens’ prices (which I will quit paying after I make use of our free Costo membership next week), buying bags of unsalted mixed nuts as snack food is *much* cheaper than buying crappy junk food, and it makes me feel much more even-keeled throughout the day. Bananas are relatively cheap, too, even organic ones, and don’t involve such a sugar crash. 

I’ve got some expenses coming up – a trip to Seattle in August that I’m already committed to (and damn excited about), and at some point, I need to get a multi-geared bike and trailer so that I can do smarter bulk shopping trips. That means it’s even more important that I save my cash and do my homework on how to make these purchases as frugally as possible. 

I chose the name “Simply Living Sideburns” for this blog because at one point, Mr. Money Mustache references such a character. He prefers the mustache. In real life, as in finances, my mustache is patchy and a work in progress. But I maintain Tenth Doctor-esque sideburns year round, and would rather go bald than shave them off. My frugality sideburns are hopefully just as luscious.