Former Ottawa worker embraces 'lost art of frugality'

A former Ottawa software engineer who retired at age 31 and moved to Colorado has attracted a following preaching from the gospel of frugality.

The lost art of frugality

11 years ago
Duration 3:14
Featured VideoFormer Ottawa high-tech worker Mr. Money Mustache has attracted a following preaching the benefits of fiscal responsibility.

A former Ottawa software engineer has attracted a dedicated following by preaching the gospel of frugality, after retiring at 31 years old and moving to Colorado.

See a recap of the live chat with Mr. Money Mustache.

Mr. Money Mustache, as he is known on his U.S.-based blog, said he celebrates "the lost art of frugality."

"I am trying to re-teach this through the writing I am doing because it makes your life better and as a side product, it makes you wealthy," he said.

The CBC's Judy Trinh spoke with Mr. Money Mustache via Skype from his home in Colorado. (CBC)

The former high-tech worker is not living large in the United States — rather, he is living off investment earnings, driving a used car and supporting his wife and son on less than $2,000 a month.

"The secret to this is that it doesn't make you any less happy," he said. "In most cases, it makes you happier. You just have to do the opposite of what your high-income friends are doing and you will end up okay."

Ottawa 'Mustachians' make do with less

He has kept his identity hidden to allow him to write his blog and still live in his community. But some of his comrades, like Greg Gyetko from Dunrobin, Ont., which is just west of Ottawa, are more open about how they have achieved financial security.

Gyetko, who graduated alongside Mr. Mustache at McMaster University and worked alongside him at Newbridge, said he will have his house paid for in 18 months, at the age of 38.

Bryce Barker has adopted the mentality of Mr. Money Mustache and his frugal lifestyle helps him save for an early retirement. (CBC)

Despite making a six-figure salary, Gyetko said he buys second-hand merchandise and leads a simple life.

"You could take your children to a public park and have a picnic or go to a restaurant and spend a lot of money," said Gyetko.

"You know which one is better for your children, and you know which one is better for your budget."

Bryce Barker, a PhD candidate at the University of Ottawa, lives in a co-op unit with his wife and one-year-old daughter. He said they have no desire to buy a house and estimates they are saving $1,500 to $2,000 a month by going without a mortgage.

"Save more than you spend while you are working and then when you have all that savings, you learn to spend very little," said Barker.