This is part of our Rockstar Book Review series.
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“Your Money or Your Life” Invites Us to Rethink How We Invest Our Time and Our Money
This is the perfect book for anyone who wants to change their relationship with money, and the source of money for most of us: work. The authors’ guide the reader through nine critical steps. These steps help us reevaluate our relationship with money, work and time, to determine whether our current actions are helping us maximize our potential to live a full and rich life.
(Note: If anyone wants a bird’s eye view of its contents, I suggest reading the epilogue starting on pg. 295. It provides a powerful summary of the nine steps as a quick reference.)
They also use simple calculations and visuals in the form of tables and graphs to help us map our behavior and our progress toward the ultimate goal: having investment revenue match our spending, which equals reaching financial independence.
The main steps in YMOYL help us create an understanding of:
- Where We’ve Been: Gaining an understanding of how much money we’ve spent in our lifetimes and evaluating our return thus far in the form of life satisfaction.
- Where We Are: Evaluating the magnitude and quality of our current spending to determine whether we’re maximizing how we use our life energy (0ur most precious resource).
- Where We’re Going: Measuring our self-sufficiency by tracking our progress toward financial independence and beyond.
#1. Understanding How Much We’ve Spent in Our Lifetime
First, the authors’ invite us to determine how much we’ve earned in our lifetime and compare it to our current net worth. Ouch! Seeing how much money we’ve thrown away is sobering to say the least. The exercise is definitely worth the pain because, as we know, we can’t change what we don’t acknowledge.
(Note: For a quick and dirty way of finding your lifetime income, log into your Social Security account online which tracks it all (ssa.gov/myaccount). J. Money once shared his earnings and made this net worth comparison dubbing it the Lifetime Wealth Ratio™.)
#2. Evaluating the Magnitude and Quality of Our Spending
Second, they ask us to look to the present: They want us to get acquainted with our regular (monthly) spending to get a sense of where our money is going. What do we spend our money on and does it add to the quality of our lives? Are we better off for having spent the money?
If we’re truthful, there’s a great deal of money we spend for other people that doesn’t add to the quality of our lives, just to its “flashiness”.
Other people’s expectations don’t make you buy stuff. Television doesn’t make you buy stuff. Your thoughts make you buy stuff. Watch those suckers. They’re dangerous to your pocketbook—and to a lot more. (pg. 194)
Once we know what doesn’t add to our quality of life, the authors invite us to either eliminate the expenditures and/or reallocate the funds to something we know adds to our life satisfaction.
Case in point: I could not believe how much I was spending on “work”: commuting, dressing the part, etc. YMOYL made me realize years ago that I was spending $26K per year just to get to work and look the part!
#3. Measuring Our Level of Self-Sufficiency
Finally, YMOYL invites us to measure our self-sufficiency by tracking our progress toward financial independence. We can do this by tracking our monthly:
- earned income (all money flowing in from working)
- investment income (all money earned from investments)
The graph is powerful for a few reasons. It offers a visual reference that prods us to maximize income and reduce expenses. Plus, it promises the ultimate payoff: once the total monthly expenses and total investment income lines intersect, we’ve reached financial independence because we’re no longer dependent on earned income to meet our needs.
Financial Independence is an experience of freedom at a psychological level. You are free from the slavery of unconsciously held assumptions about money, and free of the guilt, resentment, envy, frustration and despair you may have felt about money issues. (pg. 55)
I used this chart myself on my closet door for a few years and it helped to keep my eye on the prize.
If you want to stop having to work for “The Man” sooner than later, YMOYL is a must read. It’s a powerful book and should be part of every person’s lifetime curriculum.
Where you can find the book: Amazon @ $9.55
Where you can find the authors: YourMoneyOrYourLife.info and VickiRobin.com
(You can also find free teaching and independent learning guides to the nine steps at FinancialIntegrity.org.)
Anyone who peruses the book may also notice the references at the end, which include a number of books worth reading. Here are three I would recommend: The Overworked American by Juliet B. Schor; The High Price of Materialism by Tim Kasser and Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Another worthwhile read that puts spending in perspective but is not referenced in YMOYL is Happy Money by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton.
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