In 2005, Peter Adeney — better known as Mr. Money Mustache — retired at 30 years old.
Leading up to retirement, Adeney and his wife, Simi, both software engineers, stashed two-thirds of their combined $134,000 take-home pay in savings. After just 10 years in the workforce, the couple had accrued about $600,000 in investments and paid off a house worth $200,000, Adeney told Nick Paumgarten of The New Yorker, giving them a solid cushion to retire on.
It wasn’t an easy road to financial independence, but Mr. Money Mustache reached his goal by adopting a simple strategy that anyone can put into practice: Incorporate challenges into your routine.
“What it boils down to is enjoying hardship and practicing voluntary hardship every day,” he explained on an episode of the Mad Fientist’s “Financial Independence Podcast” when asked how to stay motivated on the journey to financial independence. “We’re trained in this country to avoid difficult stuff. And so that’s the first thing I think you got to get rid of if you want to get anywhere that’s different from the other people.”
He suggests learning to live on less — cutting down your wardrobe, buying used cars — and finding ways to add meaning to life that don’t rely on material possessions. One personal challenge he took on was learning carpentry.
“Start with a philosophy of life and read about … ancient principles that were around before we became this fancy society that we are right now, things like stoicism and a quest for having a reason to be alive,” he explained to the Mad Fientist.
Building up your savings doesn’t start with cutting costs or increasing streams of income, but rather with shifting your mindset, Adeney says. When you integrate challenges as a daily habit, making sacrifices to save becomes second-nature.
“Even if you’re still at the very beginning of getting your finances in order, having this as a framework suddenly makes everything else work better,” he said. “Suddenly, you can earn more money and you can spend less money because you engage in this quest to make your life better, which happens to involve doing difficult stuff.”
Bottom line: Don’t concentrate on how saving will make your life harder — focus on how the money you’re putting away will make it better in the long run.
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