Saturday, September 13, 2008

Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin

I first heard about this book from another book called Radical Simplicity. They used some of the ideas that Your Money or Your Life advocates, but I decided to just get the actual book and go all the way through it. The basic premise of Your Money or Your Life is that money is not just money, it is your life's energy. It is equal to the life energy you spent to earn it at your job. One of the first steps in the book (well, technically, I think it might be the third step) is to discover what your "real wage" is. You do this by first adding up all of the money that you spend specifically for work: this includes commuting expenses, lunch, work-specific clothing, and even things that you do when you get off of work to wind-down. The idea is to imagine what you would no longer be spending if you didn't have to go to work every day. So, you get that totaled. Then you figure out how much time you are spending at work, and you also include commute time and leisure time, the same way you did for the money exercise. Using these figures, you figure out how much you really take home per hour of "work", work equaling all of the time spent. It's a very revealing exercise.
The rest of the nine steps involve tracking your expenses in one way or another. The authors invite you to analyze each purchase you make in terms of your values. Are your purchases in line with your values? If not, why not? The book is not about creating budgets, or cutting back on spending. It is about learning to value money for what it is, and learning to truly appreciate what we have. Spending less and saving more should simply come naturally as a result, at least according to the authors.
I find this idea of money very powerful, and I intend to actually begin the program, now that I've read the book in its entirety. The book can be a bit much, there are a ton of personal anecdotes that I found not very helpful, and the original edition came out in the early eighties, so it is a bit out of date. The first couple of steps are supposed to get you off and running, but I simply plan on not actually doing them. I also don't plan on following the author's investment advice. But all-in-all, I think this book is tremendous, and could help anyone get real with their finances. In our all-consuming, disturbingly in debt society, views like that in this book are refreshing.

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