5 Takeaways From a Financial Cult Meetup

The unique perspectives and support from real people can help you on your journey.

Don’t Start a Blog. Start a Cult.

— Pete Adeney (Mr. Money Mustache)

Followers of Mr. Money Mustache, the famous Financial Independence blogger, often refer to themselves as members of a cult. Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a Mustachian meetup at a local coffee shop.

Although I’ve read every Mr. Money Mustache blog post over the years, I have never met anyone from his community. I had some ideas of the type of person I might run into at this meetup.

I was not disappointed.

The meetup was on a Sunday morning at a coffee shop about five miles from my house. The weather was beautiful, and like any good Mustachian, I hopped on my bicycle and rode over for the meetup.

Here are five takeaways from my very first in-person financial cult meetup.

People from every stage of the financial independence journey attended.

I had high hopes that the Mustachian crew would be diverse, and after some introductions, it was readily apparent that was indeed the case. All bases were covered, from people working to beat debt to those who had already walked away from work.

Everyone had a goal in common, and there were examples from every phase of the journey at the party. It’s motivating to talk to someone a few steps ahead of you. And nice to talk to those newer to the journey.

For many, this was also their first meetup with the group. The veterans were all welcoming and friendly.

Each person’s journey was unique in one way or another.

Mr. Money Mustache started blogging about his journey to financial independence in 2011. In the years since, many have followed his prescribed path to financial independence.

Most people I met had similar investment strategies, but everyone had unique circumstances beyond that baseline. I’ve long known that my journey wasn’t following the Mr. Money Mustache path.

I’ve made many money mistakes on this journey, and it was refreshing to hear that others also veered from the “best” path. Yet most of the people I met were feeling good about their progress.

Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.

– John Muir

I started writing about personal finance because I felt that more voices were needed to share that not every path to financial independence is the same.

Mr. Money Mustache documented an amazing and motivational journey. He created a cult by sharing his simple steps to achieve freedom.

Yet, his path is not the only path.

There was general concern about what comes after reaching financial independence.

Most attendees had not yet reached financial independence. Some were extremely close. The majority worried about what they would do once they were financially independent.

I heard a spin on the FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) mantra. It replaced Retire Early with Recreational Employment.

I’ve been on a mini-retirement and don’t believe that I’ve fully retired. I’m certainly looking for opportunities in life that fit the Recreational Employment mindset.

Life is better when you can work doing something you enjoy. It’s even better when you do not have to work for money and are only motivated by your passion.

In general, the attendees had focused on the journey to financial independence for a long time. It can be challenging to envision the next phase in life when laser-focused on your current goal.

The uncertainty of what happens next is not a good feeling.

The best suggestion I heard was to try out things you think you may like while working. If you find one or more activities you enjoy while still employed, you can bring a level of comfort to your future.

In my case, I was so immersed in my work that I had little energy to do other things. I had to take a mini-retirement to get the headspace I needed to find something I enjoyed to fill my time.

Attendees welcomed different opinions.

One defining characteristic of a cult is that members follow the leader’s instructions without question. The Mr. Money Mustache crew found great value in the knowledge shared by Pete Adeney. However, this group of people included many very money-smart people — each with a slightly different strategy.

We learned about one person’s experience using margin on their taxable investment accounts. Some would never venture into using margin, and others seemed comfortable with the concept. Everyone listened to the description of the strategy.

I walked away from the conversation with a desire to learn more about margin trading. I’m not comfortable with the practice in my situation, but I want to learn more.

Several topics of conversation were eye-opening, and not everyone agreed that the path was right for them.

You have to ask yourself if I will sleep well at night.

The Mustachian crew is my kind of cult.

Pete Adeney accidentally created a cult when he wrote about how he reached financial independence and retired by age 30. If you look closely at the characteristics of a cult, you will find many likenesses with the Mustachians who follow Mr. Money Mustache.

That might sound scary to you.

Look, achieving financial independence and time freedom in your life is not normal. If you want to be normal, save little to nothing and work until you can collect social security. The strategies that Mustachians follow are considered a polarizing, us versus them mentality.

I knew long ago that I didn’t want to work in the stressful environment I had existed in forever. When I discovered Mr. Money Mustache nearly a decade ago, I finally believed there was a path to my goals.

I’ve been on this adventure without in-person interactions with anyone else on the same journey. Talking with others in varying phases of the journey to financial independence felt great.

Attendees welcomed new ideas and perspectives. Hearing that many had faced similar challenges to me also validated my journey to date.

The small group of Mustachians I met represents precisely the people I would like to surround myself with. If that means I am a cultist, I guess that’s what I am.

One of the best ways to achieve your goals is to surround yourself with like-minded people. It’s also great to find people doing things slightly different from you. A different perspective can mean so much.

Summary

My first meetup with the Mustachian group was refreshing. It was so nice to see that you were welcome, no matter your stage in the journey to financial independence.

Despite following the general directions from Mr. Money Mustache, everyone acknowledged that their path was unique in one way or another. There are many paths to success, and not every finish line is the same either. This alone is the primary reason I decided to write about personal finance.

Almost everyone wondered what life would be like on the other side of financial independence. If you have issues in your life, they do not magically disappear when you are financially free. You have more time to work on your troubles, though. An excellent suggestion was to spend time while you continue to work to discover something that you can be passionate about after you no longer need to work for money.

Tolerance to risk varied greatly in the group. Despite this, people seemed open to hearing about new ideas. Even when something sounded very scary, people took the time to listen and learn. Trading on margin sounds very scary on the surface to me. However, I walked away, wanting to learn more.

I never thought I would end up in a cult. But dammit, if being a Mustachian is a cult, I’m proud to be a member.

If you are working towards a goal of financial independence, I highly suggest finding a local group of like-minded people you can meet in person. The unique perspectives and support from real people can help you on your journey.