Here’s something that I read recently that I wanted to share/discuss:
Your Money or Your Life (NY Times Best Seller, by Vicki Robin)
Some people say this book Your Money or Your Life is one of the most influential books that exist in the realm of financial self-improvement. Vicki Robin co-authored the original book back in 1992, and she’s since made several updates to maintain it’s relevancy in today’s world (the link above takes you to a very good summary of it, if you just want the cliff notes). I think the reason why this book has been so popular over the years is because it forces people to have this introspection when it comes to one’s relationship with money. The main example of this is in the book title: if you had a gun to your head would you rather give up your life, or your money? It challenges us to ask what’s more important, the physical possessions we accumulate or happiness and time spent with family/friends? The author propels 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.
Let me give an example. On a daily basis, I come across people who are either not happy with their current job, spending more than they are earning, or are stressed out working long hours just trying to make ends meet. And I challenge those people by asking, “do you feel like your job owns you, versus the other way around?” Life is short – do the things that make you happy, not stressing over work which enables you to buy expensive things which may not mean a whole lot. Easier said than done, I suppose, but the point is: keep it in check! Stress can lead to other issues like anxiety and depression…and as the expression goes, ain’t nobody got time for that!
Another takeaway from this book is the “think before you spend” mantra. One example that I use frequently (as recent as today) is creating a shipping list before I go to the store to stay focused on NEEDS and not veer off looking for things I may NOT need. Or if I want a home improvement, I will try to think of ways to either do it myself and/or use resources I already have, before splurging on buying new materials and hiring help. I also subscribe to the “wear it out” philosophy: I will always use a gym shirt until it has holes in it (and beyond) before replacing it. Will a new shirt be nicer? Maybe, but the old one works just fine why do I need to get rid of it? Plus, I would rather allocate my time/energy/money towards absolute necessities and creating memories. One other example: I love my 2011 Tahoe with 75k miles – I hope to use it another 7+ years and get it to 150k miles or more! I take good care of my things and try to make them last.
There are many good time & money frugality tips in the book which I found helpful (i.e. use less laundry detergent!) so I would encourage others to pick a few from that list that works for them. Now, I am not saying that you need to become Mrs. Frugality overnight, but I would say that we can all be a little more conscientious in determining what we NEED versus what we WANT.
I think about this often, and I will close with this…our TIME (or as the book calls it, our “LIFE ENERGY”) is our most precious commodity. And since we only live once, there is a finite amount of life energy that we have in this world. Personally, I am determined to spend my energy on my health, on my relationships, and on making smart decisions with my time and my finances. How are you choosing to spend yours?
Enjoy the light reading!