The FIRE Movement: Mammon Masked as 'Mustachianism'?

"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." - The Gospel According to St. Matthew

The FIRE Movement, which is the focus of a hot new documentary, is spreading like, well...

FIRE stands for Financial Independence Retire Early, and Mr. Money Mustache is arguably the FIRE Movement's figurehead. I don't remember which came first last year: visiting Mr. Money Mustache's website or hearing him on The Tim Ferriss Show. Either way, when I learned about his way of life, I immediately became a card-carrying 'Mustachian' and quickly plowed through most of the 500+ posts on his blog.

What is Mustachianism?

Pete Adeney, a.k.a. Mr. Money Mustache, a.k.a. MMM, retired at age 30. He shows that, when we shape our lifestyle to optimize for happiness, one pleasant side-effect for many of us is a huge jump in our savings rate and the ability to achieve financial independence (FI) in a short time, because the lifestyle that is actually satisfying to us as humans-here-under-the-sun also happens to be dirt cheap and doesn't require all the costly luxuries and conveniences we assume deliver happiness.

For example, riding your bike to work is more enjoyable AND more cost-effective than driving. Sharing power tools with your neighbors is more fun AND more affordable than buying new and owning all the tools you use. Make happiness-aligned shifts like these several times over, while investing the loads of money you'll inevitably save, and financial independence and the ability to retire will come shockingly quickly.

We're talking years, potentially, not decades.

This approach to life, which Mr. Adeney calls Mustachianism, struck a chord with me on many fronts, since optimizing for happiness entails embracing values like critical-thinking, community, minimalism, and struggle!

In fact, voluntary hardship is a pillar of Mustachianism, and I'm thankful for Mr. Adeney, who's helped me see how resistance (e.g., the inconvenience of bicycling to work) unlocks satisfaction and strength.

Throw in the very real possibility of financial independence, and Mustachianism produces nothing but flourishing, I thought. So I put our family on a course for financial independence, which didn't require huge changes, as it turned out that we were already about 60% of the way toward a Mustachian lifestyle without realizing it.

The Creed

And then this happened:

Godliness with contentment is great gain.

We bring nothing into this world, and we take nothing out of it.

We who call JESUS LORD devote ourselves to resisting greed,

which plunges the human heart into ruin, and pierces it with many griefs.

We are determined to practice generosity with free hearts,

fixing our hope on GOD and not the uncertainty of wealth.

We desire to be rich in good deeds and willing to share all that we have,

laying up for ourselves treasure that will not decay

but will shine in the age to come.


Every Sunday morning, our church recites the 'Generosity Creed' above, which is adapted fro