Monday, November 14, 2016

What I've Been Reading: "Your Money or Your Life" by Vicki Robin

After hearing many, many people (including several of the people profiled in Radical Homemakers) recommend Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence by Vicki Robin, I decided that I probably needed to read this book. I’d been working my way through it for a few weeks, and I finally finished it on our trip to Pennsylvania. I’m not usually a fan of books about finances, but this one was both interesting and inspiring.

Overall, I love the basic premise of the book: money is life energy, so you should focus on spending it on the things that bring you the most worth and joy. Although it does have nitty-gritty methods and advice, it mostly focuses on the philosophy of money: What is money? What is work? How much do you really make per hour, when you factor in all the expenses? What is most important to you? How are you spending your money, and does that align with your values?

As you ask these questions, you start tracking your expenses and income, charting them on a graph, and carefully analyzing each category: is this the best use of my life energy? It was a refreshing change from the budgeting advice that assumes you have steady income and steady bills (we have neither). The method in this book cultivates consciousness rather than trying to fit all aspects of life into rigid, pre-set dollar amounts.

This method appealed both Zach and me, even though we have very different views of money (he doesn’t worry about it, while I live in terror of spending; he’s into numbers and calculation and charting progress, while I’m more free-flow and hippie-dippy). We’re going to start tracking our expenses and look into implementing the steps of the program.

All in all, I think Zach and I spend our money fairly well. After all, we’re not in debt (except for our mortgage) and live within our means. However, recently I’ve gotten a nagging suspicion that we are not spending our resources as wisely as we could be. The goal of this program is to help you identify the flow of money that doesn’t bring any fulfillment, and try to eliminate it. I’m interested to see what we discover as we track our expenses.

The book talks about the ultimate goal of all this tracking and questioning and consciousness: eventually achieving financial independence and having the freedom to spend your “life energy” however you like. As I read the book, I began to imagine possibilities I hadn’t considered before, thinking of the future as something to work toward rather than a place that I’ll just end up eventually.  

The final chapter, about investing, is outdated, but since the specific details of investments aren’t the focus of the book, I didn’t mind too much. It did inspire Zach to do  more investment research on his own, so the book was simply a good starting point on that aspect.

In short, Your Money or Your Life is definitely worth reading, even if you have a different philosophy of money management than the book presents. I love the “minimalist” mindset of focusing on what’s most important to you and eliminating all the clutter on the side— a principal that can help everyone, no matter where they are in life.


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