Over at Vox, Mr. Money Moustache notes:
The first trick is to remind yourself that buying something — pretty much anything — is very unlikely to improve your long-term happiness. Science figured this out for us long ago, but not many people got the memo. Go to your junk electronics drawer and look at your old flip phones or your dusty iPad 1. Look at the clothes you’ve recently pruned from your closet that are now headed to the Goodwill. You traded a lot of good dollars for those, not very long ago at all. Are they still making you happy today?
…I try to get people to think of things in 10-year chunks at a minimum and then move on to a lifetime perspective. For example, spending $100 per week on restaurants equates to a $75,000 hit to your wealth every ten years, compared to keeping that money and just investing it in a conservative way.
If I understand him correctly, he recommends a very high savings rate and very early retirement.
From an individual point of view, my worry is that happiness may not go up much in this early retirement and in fact it may go down; people seem to enjoy working, which is good for their health and their social involvement. Perhaps Mr. Money Moustache derives a sense of purpose from spreading this gospel, but most people would end up bored and indeed frustrated if they retired at age thirty as he has (apparently) done.
From a social point of view, if everyone did this, productivity would collapse. Workers over the age of thirty make the world go round, and teach and pass down skills to others. When you retire involves an external cost or benefit, and retirement can come either too early or too late.
I’ll note in passing that my “dusty iPad 1” gave me an enormous amount of pleasure, as does my later iPad. And I wish my old flip phone still worked! Sadly, it is no longer still making me happy today.
Addendum: Ryan Decker comments.