To Each his Own – Which Type of Financial Freedom Is for You?

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07 Mar To Each his Own – Which Type of Financial Freedom Is for You?

To start off today’s article, I would like to present the following two characters for your consideration.

Character M

A software engineer by profession, M has built up a sizable egg nest. He did so by being extemely brutal with his spendings. At the age of 30, he choose to turn his back in corporate life and opted for early retirement.

M is a master saver. He buys his groceries in bulk, hates cars and gets around on his bicycle. Last year, within his household of himself, his wife (who also retired early) and his homeschooled nine year old, they spent a grand total of 25k (on the back of a $400k passive income).

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If I had to use three words to describe him, the words would be frugal, frugal and frugal. He is frugal not because he has to, he is frugal because he chooses to. With his family, they lead simple, contented and financially free lives.

Character R

The exact opposite of M, R is a man prone to excesses.

He believes that money is made to be spent. Rather than thinking of how to save more, which is defeatist thinking, one should be thinking of how to earn more. After all, there is only so much one can save, while earnings is potentially unlimited.

He believes that one should spend freely on the things that matter, while cutting down mercilessly on the things that do not. He espouses the merits of being able to afford life’s luxuries, the greatest of which is being able to spend freely on the things and on the people that matter to you.


Now which of the above character resonate with you more? If you had to choose one, which scenario would you want to put yourself in?

If you are a personal finance enthusiast, chances are you might have already realized who I have been referring to. Both M and R happen to be widely read and highly successful personal finance bloggers from the United States. The similarity however, ends exactly there.

Mr Money Moustache

Better known as Mr Money Moustache, Simon Adeney is character M. He first started writing in 2011, and since then has published more than 300 articles on saving money AND living a rich life on his platform.

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As he shared in this New Yorker article, a Moustache is the symbol of an alpha male, and it is way of conveying extreme confidence.

People need to be told to get to work on things. They need a boss so they will stop making excuses.

When it comes to personal finance and savings, there is no greater boss than someone who shows the way.

The blog was born out of exasperation, he wrote. While the middle class constantly lament about how squeezed their lives are, how difficult it is to save and plan for retirement, and how much they would sacrifice to escape from the rat race, their spending patterns showed otherwise.

These comments were generally made over expensive pints of microbrew at a restaurant, or on Facebook between announcements regarding the purchase of brand new dealer-financed Subarus, snowboarding trips, and road biking equipment.

His success is evident. His tribe bears testament to it. People who subscribe to his teachings call themselves Mustachian. They gather in his forum to share their experiences and successes. They band together to mock and turn their back against the traditional consumption based ‘anti-mustachian’ way of life.

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Mustachians against the World


Ramit Sethi

Equally established but on the exact opposite end of the spectrum is Ramit Sethi of the ‘I will teach you to be rich‘ fame. Audacious claim, but given the following he has, there might have been a small tinge of truth to it.

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A Stanford graduate, he is as unbearable in character as Mr Money Moustache. Both admonish and banish non-believers, and Ramit does it with a huge dose of sarcasm and self righteousness that it is often entertaining (provided that you are not the one at the receiving end).

His material is predicated on a core concept called Big Wins.

Rather than focusing on the minute details of life, Ramit preaches focusing on the big picture.

In one of his more popular articles, he wrote about the psychology of spending on lattes. Spend on the $5 lattes if you have to, but in doing so, channel the cognitive energy you have freed up from trying to exercise self control into acquiring new skills that can potentially make you tens of thousands of dollars.

Like starting a business on the side, or learning to negotiate a salary increase for that extra 10k per annum. (think of the amount of lattes you can drink!)

There are a few big wins in life, Ramit says.

If you simply get them right, you almost never have to worry about the little things. If you can focus on the 5-10 Big Wins, rather than the 50 little things, you can have an unsurmountable edge in life.

No one can constantly take care of the minute details in life such as fighting the urge to spend on little things and at the same time keep their eyes on the big picture, he claims.

Stark differences

Mr Money Moustache is frugal. Remit believes frugality is futile and energy sapping.

Mr Money Moustache believes that a millionaire are made ten bucks at a time. ‘Each ten is a critical brick in the early retirement castle you are building‘. Ramit pours scorn on that and believes that are faster ways to achieve that millionaire end game.

Mr Money Moustache teaches people to yearn for less. Ramit other urges people to transform their yearnings into productive energy and seek out more.

Mr Money Moustache believes that saving is fun. Ramit makes it out to be painful, and insist that the process is nothing more than forcing yourself to go on a guilt trip.

Mr Money Moustache mocks the anti-mustachian lifestyle. Ramit is the epitome of anti-mustachian.

Yet, despite all their differences, despite their definition of ‘riches’ being so radically different, both Mr Money Moustache and Ramit Sethi do have one more thing in common – They both want their readers to be Financially Free and to lead Richer Lives.

Which one are you? 

Folks, you are here because you care about money matters and personal finance.

You would have your own system that works very well for you, or you could be in the process of searching for one. You might have tried out one or many of their recommendations and now swear by it (or hated it).

You might think that leading a Mustachian lifestyle is a race to the bottom, and such behaviour would see the end of the human race. You might also feel that what Ramit preaches results in excesses and leads people onto the treadmill of the never ending rat race.

Like all great thought leaders, both Simon and Ramit are extremely polarizing figures. They are there for you to either love or hate.

But no matter which side you belong to, you cannot deny that there are merits (and demerits) to each school.

Which type of Financial Freedom do you prefer? Do drop me a note or leave a comment. I look forward!



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  • My 15HWW
    Posted at 22:44h, 08 March Reply


    Ramit assumes that all of us are “weak” and he is not wrong by asking us to use our willpower to target the big areas first. In Singapore, if you tell yourself you will not stay in a condo, buy a car, or dine at Ku De Ta or buy an LV every other week, it’s quite difficult to rack up high expenses. If one earns an average or slightly above average income, financial freedom should arrive within two decades.

    I am probably on the above track but once a while, MMM will inspire me to be more disciplined with my expenses. I will then look to cut out the irresponsible wastes in my life and revel in my Mustachianism.

    • Jon
      Posted at 08:26h, 09 March Reply

      Bit of food for thought. If we try to do both, do they not cancel each other out?

      I mean, I understand why it is so appealing to do both at the same time. We tell ourselves we are trying to seek a balance, that we can make the best of both worlds.

      But both their philosophies are really so different.

      If it is a half full glass, MMM would say we don’t need such a big glass. Pour the water into a smaller glass and you would have a full glass.

      Ramit would say it doesn’t matter how full or empty. As long as you keep pouring water in that’s good enough.

      Sometimes I ask myself if I would be better off sticking to one religiously and being damn good at it.

  • Eric
    Posted at 19:45h, 09 March Reply

    Got a headache reading Ramit. Sounds like a con man. Probably is.

    • Jon
      Posted at 10:48h, 10 March Reply

      He is a world class hustler!

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