consumerism

I’m Growing My Mustache!

mustache

Just call me Mz. Money Mustache

 

This article isn’t about what you probably think it’s about. It’s about me…growing my mustache. Well, my “money mustache,” that is. You know—becoming a mustachian!

Towards the latter half of 2012 my now-husband (but at the time, boyfriend) started reading the afore-linked blog and it turned out to be one of the driving forces behind us getting hitched. Actually, it initially resulted in a highly unanticipated and, in my opinion, unwelcome turn in my husband—a total 180, as a matter of fact—with respect to money, and therefore lifestyle. I was not okay with this sudden and complete turnaround in his life perspective. You see, he used to be one of those people that thought things like, “what’s the point in saving all of your money for retirement if by the time you’re able to enjoy your money, you’re too old to do all the things you would have wanted?,” and “I understand wanting to save, but if it’s going to come at the cost of enjoying the present and having fun while you’re young, then really what’s the point?” I liked this philosophy. I agreed with this philosophy. But as I said— total 180. And if I wasn’t willing to do a 180 in the same direction, well then… I would be heading in the opposite direction, now, wouldn’t I? This was either going to mean the end of us as we knew it, or the beginning of a life-long [financial] commitment…

Mr. Money Mustache is the mustachian— the originator of this newfound ideology that my husband found so appealing—he’s “the freaky financial magician who retired along with a lovely wife at age 30 in order to start a family, as well as start living a great life.” How did he do this? Well, I suppose it all starts with recognizing the “Exploding Volcano of Wastefulness” that is the average consumer’s lifestyle. (He really has a way with words doesn’t he?) But that, of course, merely scratches the surface of his ideology and money management stratagems. Honestly, I’m not going to go into detail about all the financial strategy required for this kind of early retirement, but if your interest is piqued, and you think you may want to pursue just such a goal—click on either of the hyperlinks above and read his blog. I highly recommend it. I, however, was not so easily convinced when my husband first brought this plan to me…

 

 

The Deal: There would be no spending beyond basic needs such as:

  • mortgage
  • car insurance
  • gas
  • phone bill
  • internet
  • cable (only because we were in a contract)
  • food (and even there, there would be serious budgeting)

When he said he would even be eating less meat, and trying to eat more vegetarian, I knew this shit was for real.

The Payoff: Retiring in 10 years, at the tender age of 40.*

*except—as he said—he would still work enough hours at his job for us to keep our insurance.

Well, it’s been a year now, and boy have we saved/invested/accrued A LOT. And I am finally—probably just now, to be honest—adjusting.

Surprisingly, I think the best part about this whole life plan/shift in lifestyle is just that: the shift in lifestyle. No more going out to eat means lots of delicious, carefully crafted home cooked meals. No more movie theatre dates means curling up on the couch with wine, cheese and crackers instead. We’ve traded in Starbucks drinks for homemade coffees (which we do quite expertly with our french press and milk-foaming gadget). And instead of spending money on sporting events or other costly outings, we go to the library, hiking with our dogs, have game nights, and I just so happen to have a membership to an awesome museum here in Oakland that I received as a gift, so that’s free too! Not to mention, of course, we both still have full time jobs and personal projects to keep us individually busy as well.

Growing my mustache is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Not only will it bring my partner and I closer to retirement at a young age while making life richer in the process, but ultimately, it rests on a lifestyle more in line with my feminist principles. Less spending equals less consumption, which equals less waste, which means simpler living, and more of what actually matters in life. La Pura Vida. And I am actually doing it.

Now I just need to learn how to ride a bicycle…

 

 

 

 

 

Dove’s “Real Beauty Campaign”

Last week a certain Dove ad gained wide popularity throughout the media.

Many of my own friends posted about it on Facebook, citing how it brought them to tears.

Feministing.com had this to say about Dove’s latest addition to the “Real Beauty Campaign.”

Naturally, with a few fellow feminist friends talking about it, saying how moving or significant it is, I had to see what all the fuss was about.

I felt…nothing. It was lackluster, contrived, and a bit patronizing, in my opinion.

This is what I had to say on the MFB Facebook page (taken from a thread in which I shared the feministing.com article)

“glad you each read, and appreciated, this article. i watched that video and just thought, “seriously…?” You know what, So what if one of them actually did look like the first sketch more? OH DEAR GOD NO, NOT THAT! There is still, at the center of this ad, underpinning it all, this abstract ideal of beauty… And I do feel that a demonstration of confidence would have been more powerful than a showcase of insecurity. We need more examples of strong, confident women of all shapes and sizes and colors in the media. But what am I saying… Consumerism is consumerism. Looking for meaning in the consumer marketplace is like looking for love in the red light district.

of course, “looking for love in the red light district” works… if you’re “Pretty Woman”….”

The bottom line, for me, is that this ad still rests on a social standard of superficial physical beauty, and, to quote the feministing article, “This version of the message–that you’re thinner than you think you are–reinforces the assumption that thinness is valuable. The take-away might be immediately gratifying. But by accepting the worship of slenderness within a supposed challenge to mainstream standards, the video entrenches fat-shaming further.”

Furthermore, as previously mentioned, I find it a bit patronizing in its almost exploitative demonstration of female insecurity. Yes, lots of women are insecure. So are lots of men. I’m not inspired by this and I feel a slight discomfort that so many women were. I suppose its in the relatable aspect of it, but still, are we not all already aware of the universal human frailty that is insecurity? Once again, I find demonstrations of strength, confidence, and self-actualization much more inspirational. I find inspiration in Maya Angelou, Gloria Steinem, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Judith Butler, Cherie Moraga, and James Baldwin, who taught me that I must accept the inherent value that is placed upon me as a human being.

As a matter of fact, I think this is a way more “feminist,” awesome, and inspiring ad, so there. Enjoy.

A note on Capitalism, Consumerism, and all of this Monsanto Business…

consumer power

This week Facebook, Twitter, and the like were all abuzz with slactivism regarding the Supreme Court hearings on DOMA and the validity of Prop 8 (passed in CA, 2008).

And then of course, by the end of the week there was the more subtle wave of, “Meanwhile, the Monsanto Protection Act was passed,” floating just beneath the radar.

The thing that’s been getting to me about this is….

We live in a capitalist society (hopefully I am not shocking anyone with that info) and I am- yes, even as a “radical” feminist- okay with that. I am not anti-capitalism. But I do think it merits social safety nets. After all, I’m a homeowner- I own property and I am damn proud of that fact, and moreover super stoked that my husband and I (together, as a team- we could not have accomplished it otherwise) accomplished this achievement just before we each turned 30. However, that does not mean that I am okay with predatory lending and bad mortgages being handed out. Now I’m no economist, but I am a feminist and I do care about stuff and things, so naturally this is just one of those aspects of life which I believe it to be both my personal, as well as political, responsibility to know a little bit about. I happen to have this crazy notion that it’s my right, my privilege, and ultimately, my responsibility as a citizen- i.e. a private individual as well as member of public society- to be at least a little bit well-informed on some social issues and politics.

While our capitalist structure does, unfortunately, allow for the existence of things such as lobbyists, it is also fueled by and founded on, above all else, the consumer. At the base of our capitalist pyramid is us- the workers, the 99%, the consumers. And there is, indeed, such a thing as consumer power. Just look at the rise of the organic food industry over the past decade, or the rise of “Fair Trade,” and other forms of socially conscious consumerism. Seeing all the posts and articles about Monsanto over the past week has resulted in a recurring thought of mine:

What if Monsanto didn’t have any customers? What if they had no consumer base…?

Imagine if we all grew our own produce and/or only bought from vendors at farmers’ markets (or other individuals or small businesses) that we trusted?

I understand that Monsanto’s customer base is not directly us, the general public, but rather the farming community and farmers themselves, and this does indeed complicate my proposition; But if the basic principles of economics are still in operation then there is still room for change. As long as there is supply and demand, there is still consumer power.

We can always put our money where our mouths are.