Book Review – Your Money or Your Life. In this blog post, I review Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin. In this book, Robin outlines the nine steps to transforming your relationship with money and achieving financial freedom.
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It’s no secret how passionate I am about personal finance and financial education. I believe that when you know better you do better. And given the right resources and tools, anyone can get their finances in order. While it’s easy to sit back, play the victim and blame the ‘system’ for your current financial situation, I’ve instead decided to teach myself everything there is to know about managing my money.
I started a finance online book club in January where we read and review one personal finance book every month. Master Your Money by Vicki Robin was the book of choice for March. You can find the full reading list for 2020 below, click on the image to join the Facebook group:
At first glance, the title of the book seems somewhat dramatic. My understanding of the title when I first read it was choosing between your money or your life. I found this intriguing, and wanted to learn what the author meant by the title “Your Money or Your Life”.
Do I have to make a choice between my money and my life? Is there an optimal balance between the two that I should be seeking? Does pursuing money means I’m compromising my life? This title sparked so many questions, that I couldn’t wait to get into the book to understand just what Robin meant by Your Money or Your Life.
In this blog post, I’ll be sharing my thoughts and opinions on Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin. I’ll outline key findings from the book and give it a rating out of five. I hope you find this book review, interesting, informative, and insightful.
Vicki Robin is a prolific social innovator, writer and speaker. The first edition of Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship With Money and Achieving Financial Independence, was an international best-seller. The book was co-written by Vicki Robin and the late Joe Dominguez in 1992.
For 40+ years, Robin has worked on books, organisations and projects intended to turn humans and humanity towards a thriving just and sustainable future. Through this, she has influenced literally millions of people to rethink their relationship with money, time, food, and civic engagement.
In the opening chapter, Robin explains that in order to find a new road map for money, you need to adopt a new way of thinking. She refers to this new roadmap of thinking as Financial Independence thinking (FI). In short, FI thinking is the process of examining the basic assumptions that you have unconsciously adopted about money. Unless you can deliberately and objectively question your own inner road map for money, you will be stuck in classic financial dead ends, such as:
You’ll continue to be so confused by money and leave it to the experts, who in turn feed on your ignorance.
The purpose of the 4 FI’s below is to liberate your mind from the power of consumer culture. Apply the FI’s to the flow of money in your life. They are:
1) Financial Intelligence – Step back from your assumptions and emotions about money and look at it. objectively. Does money actually make people happy? Know how much is coming in and going out.
2) Financial Integrity – Learn the impact of spending on your family and the environment.
3) Financial Independence – Anything that frees you from the dependence of money to live life.
4) Financial Interdependence – Fact of life, we all depend on each other and we are all interconnected.
Robin makes you really think about how you view money and your relationship with it. She talks about how a lot of people view jobs as a status symbol. Jobism is something a lot of people suffer from, this is when people judge people based on the job that they do and their status in their organisation. As opposed to, looking at whether or not the person is fulfilled in the job that they do. For example, you ask them, what do you do for a living? As opposed to asking them are they fulfilled and content in what they do and how they are living their life. A lot of us spend more time working than enjoying life.
Robin gave a great illustration of an experiment carried out amongst a group of people from different walks of life. Most people in the experiment said that they would be happier if they had more money. Interestingly, the experiment revealed that even people in the higher income bracket above each participant were not happy and said they’d be happy if they earnt more. This highlighted that it didn’t matter how much they earned, they were not happy and still wanted more.
The consumer myth is that more is better, when in reality the idea that more is better is a formula for dissatisfaction. Robin further explains that clutter enters our lives through the “more is better door”, so we need to just get to that place when we know what we have is enough and be content.
“If you live for having it all, what you have will never be enough.”
In the 2018 revised edition of Your Money or Your Life, Robin, outlines nine steps to transform your relationship with money and achieve financial independence. It challenges us to ask what’s more important, the physical possessions we accumulate or happiness and time spent with family/friends? The author pushes the reader to conscientiously think about the function of money in our everyday lives, and provides actionable steps on how to put the relationship into context.
I’ve summarised the steps below, however, I’d recommend reading the whole book for more detail and a wider breadth of understanding.
The first step is to make peace with your past. This can be done in 2 parts. Firstly, calculate how much money you have ever earned in your whole life. Then work out what you have to show for it. You can do this by calculating your net worth. Your net worth can be calculated by subtracting your total liabilities from your total assets.
In step 2, Robin explains that money is something we choose to trade our life energy for. When we go to work, we are trading our life energy for money. Our life energy is our time. Robin provides a formula to calculate your real hourly wage and explains how to keep track of all the money coming in and out of your life.
The next step is to track your income and expenses using your real hourly wage. Convert dollars spent into hours of life energy as calculated in step 2.
Look at each of your category tables from step 3 at where you’ve spent your hourly life energy and ask yourself:
1) Did I receive fulfilment, satisfaction and value in proportion to life energy spent?
2) Is the 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 money
For each category, evaluate increase decrease or stay the same for your optimal fulfilment.
Create a large Wall Chart plotting your total monthly income and total monthly expenses from your monthly tabulation. Put it where you will see it every day.
Learn and practise intelligent use of your life energy, this will result in lowering your expenses and increasing your savings. This, in turn, will create greater fulfilment, integrity, and alignment in your life.
In this step, Robin explains that you trade your life energy for money so you should trade it wisely. Trade it with purpose and integrity and for increased earnings.
Robin explains that by doing steps 1 through 7, you will already be on your way towards achieving financial freedom. With step 8, the possibility of financial independence opens up. This step shows you how you can leave paid employment a lot sooner than you would have ever thought possible.
Each month apply the following equation to your total accumulated capital, and post the monthly independence income as a separate line on your Wall Chart:
capital X current long – term interest rate 12 months = monthly investment income
Become knowledgeable about income-producing investments which provide consistent income sufficient to meet your needs over the long term.
By following the steps outlined in this book, you do not have to choose between ‘your money’ and ‘your life’. You can have both. There are ways in which your working self, your money self, and your role as a family member, friend, neighbour, etc. can all be reconciled. Life isn’t just about making as much as you can and spending it before you die. Instead, you should be in control of your finances so that you have plenty of time to enjoy family and friends and pursue personal interests.
I loved this book as it forced me to introspectively look at my relationship with money. The author asked the question, if you had a gun to your head would you rather give up your life, or your money? When put like that the answer is very obvious, but when you start thinking about the way you live your life, you seen realise that you’re actually choosing money instead of your life.
The idea of calculating your real hourly wage was definitely an eye-opener. A lot of times we think a bigger salary means better when this isn’t necessarily the case. We have to really count the costs. From lunch and travel, to work clothes, coffee breaks and holidays to compensate for the stress of the job – it all adds up!
My favourite quote from this book was “If you live for having it all, what you have will never be enough.” The reality is, a lot of us make work our life and it shouldn’t be that way. We should be able to enjoy our life and not just work ourselves to death working tirelessly to make more money to accumulate stuff that we don’t need.
I’ve been tracking my spending for the last 7 months, so it was good to have the reaffirmation that I’m doing the right thing despite how tedious it can at times be.
Asking yourself, month in, month out, whether you actually got fulfilment in proportion to life energy spent each time, will make you think twice before making unnecessary impulse purchases. The steps are built on consciousness, fulfilment and choice, not on budgeting and deprivation which I really appreciated.
Robin explains that when you’re frugal you enjoy what you have. For example, if you have 10 dresses but still feel you have nothing to wear you may just be a compulsive shopper. The thrill of buying is better than the joy of having and using. Waste lies in the failure to enjoy what you have and not in the number of actual possessions. Frugal people have a high joy to stuff ratio, they get full value from life. Frugality moves from a more is better mentality, to enough is enough, therefore getting the maximum return for each unit of life energy spent.
This was a fantastic read. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in the Financial Freedom Retire Early (FIRE) movement. If you struggle with overspending and lack the discipline to manage your finances, the book will help you. For this reason, I have no choice but to rate Your Money or Your Life a 5 out of 5.
I’ve read a few personal finance books to date. This book was the first to make me think about my relationship with money. Why I buy the things I buy and what I place and see value in. I think once you’re able to identify your spending triggers and understand why you spend the way you do, it becomes easier to make changes.
The biggest lesson I took from the book was the importance of calculating and understanding my real hourly wage. Every pound spent is life energy spent, putting it in this perspective has changed the way I view money forever. I’m going to read this book once a year to remind myself of why FIRE is so important to me and the steps I need to continue to take to get there.
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Wife and mum of three boys on a journey to achieve financial freedom. Earn more, spend less and invest the difference.