Your Money Or Your Life: one of the most influential books of my life

vicki
Of course this woman is one of my role models (Source: yourmoneyoryourlife.com)

I finally had a chance to read the new edition of Your Money Or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence, a book that had a huge influence on me when I first discovered it back in the late ’90s.

With this book, co-author (and now friend!) Vicki Robin sparked the FIRE, or  “Financial Independence, Retire Early” movement… though few people were aware of this until relatively recently. She is a huge inspiration to me, and I definitely aim to be like her when I grow up!

The new edition includes a wider range of examples from Millennial types, and the chapter on investing is FAR better aligned to today’s investing climate.

YMOYLIntrigued? Vicki has generously shared a VERY detailed summary on the fancy new YMOYL website, but I still suggest you buy the book, and spend some time with it!

In addition to calculating how much money we’ve earned over our entire lives, and what we have to show for it (aka our net worth; this is Step 1), we’re instructed to calculate our real hourly wage, a function of our life energy, and track every cent that comes into our goes out of our lives (Step 2). And we get into the habit of tallying up our spending by categories that are relevant to our lives, and we regularly convert those monthly spending totals into hours of life energy (Step 3).

But my favorite step by far is Step 4: Three Questions That Will Transform Your Life:

  1. Did I receive fulfillment, satisfaction and value in proportion to life energy spent?
  2. Is this expenditure of life energy in alignment with my values and life purpose?
  3. How might this expenditure change if I didn’t have to work for a living.

Since reading this book again — approximately two decades after reading it the first time! — I have completely overhauled my spending categories in Pocketsmith, the app I use to track my spending. (I used Mint before moving to New Zealand, but Mint can’t handle multiple currencies.) Now they’re a lot more relevant to my current values, and I waste a lot less time trying to wrestle the information I’m looking for from Pocketsmith.

After spending a bit of time examining my monthly spending against my values, I have realized a few things:

  1. The whole monthly evaluation schedule is a LOT less stressful than what I have been doing, which is living with a vague sense of anxiety, all the time, about spending and where the money is going. Complete with obsessive checking of Pocketsmith. No more! Monthly check-ups, per the program.
  2. I’ve realized that it makes no sense to evaluate the spending that is required for my life with Scott (rent, groceries, utilities, etc), or Scott’s spending, which all comes out of the same accounts; I’m the one who’s chosen to get on the program, and so I’ve decided to evaluate my own spending. I may, at some point in the future, decide to evaluate our joint discretionary spending, but only for personal interest’s sake.
  3. I spend far less than I feared on electronic gadgets, and with a few exceptions, I’ve always found them worth the investment of life energy. Presto: enormous source of guilt eliminated!
  4. While I have always believed in investing in personal development and self-care, I don’t have an excellent track record of fulfillment and value relative to my spending over the last few years, particularly in the area of money spent on yoga. So I’ve cancelled my monthly subscription at the yoga studio up the road from the office (a financial relationship which seemed to foster more guilt than actual benefit). Instead, I’ve been practicing on my own at home, and am seriously considering starting to teach a class in the office again.
  5. I want to spend more money on donations and gifts.

Those are just the handful of revelations I can think of off the top of my head.

The biggest shift that crunching the numbers and carefully considering my life values has given me is an entire workday’s worth of time back; yup, I’ve decided to move to working only four days a week. Starting next week, I will be working a Tuesday-through-Friday schedule, and I’m thrilled.

 

(Leaving some space so I can bask a bit more in this decision, and space for whatever reactions this news may prompt in you.)

 

To be fair, I’d been considering this shift for months, so I don’t give FULL credit to Vicki; still, re-reading YMOYL contributed significantly to putting me firmly on the Work Less side of the fence.

What might reading this book do for your own life? I would love to hear, so please let me know if you do read (or re-read) it!

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