46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 1998
The first few chapters of this book are great: they offer a fresh perspective on why we work so hard to make money but are never satisfied, and the authors' advice about balancing your expenses against your expenditure of life energy is excellent.
However, I have several problems with the "program" the authors recommend. (1) It's far too easy for frugality to become an end in itself. I know ex-Yuppies who are now as obsessive and self-righteous about penny-pinching as they used to be about owning the latest and greatest espresso machine, and I frankly don't see that as an improvement. (2) The program requires minute attention to detail, and not everyone is capable of this. That doesn't mean (as the authors imply) that they "don't care" about managing their money or achieving financial independence -- but there ARE other ways of achieving these goals besides the authors' "one size fits all" program. (3) As other critics have pointed out, the authors' recommendations on how to invest your money are rather dubious: it's much safer, and potentially more profitable, to diversify. (4) The authors seem to set up a false dichotomy between "your job" and "what you want to do with your life," and imply that you have to get out of the work world to achieve the latter. I don't think the two are necessarily incompatible -- some of us actually like our jobs, and would just like to change our hours or work in a less stressful atmosphere. I think, too, that if there's something wrong with the world of work, it's better to stay in it and try to IMPROVE it than to drop out. (Relevant reading here: Matthew Fox's "The Reinvention of Work," Marsha Sinetar's books.)
37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 1998
When I read this book I was near the point of desperation (negative net worth and getting worse by the month). Five years later I am debt-free and have saved about 60% of what I will need to retire early.
Have you ever felt that you could really contribute something great to the world if you only had the time to do it, without worrying about earning a living? Or maybe you'd just like to finally learn to play a musical instrument and play in a band. Or volunteer for a great cause. Or be a full-time parent to your children. Or travel. Or work part-time, or at a fulfilling, rewarding job, even though it doesn't pay much. Or just finally be able to throw that dreaded alarm clock in the trash. This book can help make it happen.
The real question is, are your dreams important enough to motivate you to make some changes in your life? If you're happy with your situation and feel you have enough free time and money, then maybe this isn't the book for you. If you're closer to where I was (in debt, feeling trapped in my job and tied to a paycheck) then maybe there's some useful information for you here. Here's what I've done since reading it:
- Got out of debt - Started saving 50% of my income - Sold my house, moved to a houseboat ($1200/mo. less, MUCH more enjoyable living situation) - Doubled my salary - Sold most of my belongings, except the ones I truly enjoyed. - Took up hobbies that had always interested me, but that I'd made no time for (kayaking, cycling, hang gliding)
My goal is early retirement, so I can travel, write, play, or whatever else catches my attention. But early retirement isn't the only reason to read this book. The ideas presented here can make your life easier, more meaningful and more enjoyable. It helps you evaluate your own dreams and desires, and it gives you a way to make them reality.
I didn't choose to follow each step to the letter. For example, my investments are in mutual funds instead of treasury bonds, and I don't track all my expenses every month, although I did that for a while (very enlightening experience to see where the money disappears to). In other words, take from this book that which makes sense to you, but at least give their suggestions careful consideration. Don't expect a magic wand - it takes a lot of effort to change the way we do things and many people are not willing to do that. But if you are ready to put forth some effort to make your life better, this is the book for you.
36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on December 24, 1997
I found this book to be a nice departure from the usual "get rich quick" books. Dominguez and Robin give an alternative to the 9 to 5 "making a dying" lifestyle of most Americans. Their book makes us examine why we want money and material objects while showing how these pursuits lead to depletion of the word's resources and our own depletion of money. I read the book once and put it on the self only to rediscover it and ask myself why I had done so. It is full of excellent advice for reducing the cost of living and investing money(treasury bills). Some of the advice may not be practical, such as keeping track of every single penny that you spend for a month. Of course anything worth while isn't easy. I've attempted to follow the ideas in "Your Money or Your Life" and it isn't easy but if people make a true effort it is worth while.
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 1998
This book makes you think about your spending and working habits in a different way and is among the most thought-provoking books I have come across this year.
As others have noted, there are weaknesses in trying to follow slavishly the "program" outlined in the book, including: (i) the authors' insistence that the program be followed exactly; (ii) the supposition that inflation can be neutralized through careful spending; (iii) the precise tracking and charting of expenses and income required; and (iv) and the authors' investment advice to use only US Tresuries, regardless of the length of your remaining life.
On balance, however, the book is quite adept at getting you to think about your relationship with money and possessions. What also is refreshing is the authors' noting that each person defines what is "enough" for them. There is no insistence that a particular lifestyle is preferred, and relatively little of the "earth worship" that can sometimes invade other voluntary simplicity/simple living books.
I highly recommend that you at least check this book out at the library - after I read and re-read it, I ended up buying a copy for my permanent collection, even though I am not following the "program" spelled out in the book. It has enough interesting ideas even for those who aren't looking for a complete "unified field theory" for managing their lives.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 1999
This book is more than a book about money, it's a book about time...your time. I heard about this book and I thought it would be interesting, but I had no idea it would completely transform my life. Before I even finished it I found myself talking about the ideas to family and friends.
"Your Money or Your Life" has given me the strength to know the path that eluded me for so long. Now I can focus on things that are meaningful, instead of just being another 9-5 drone. Now I realize the myths behind modern employment, and the modern stencil-cut pattern for living. Still every day I talk with brainwashed people who say "I love my work" then come home exhausted and unfufilled, deeper in debt, down a 6-pack or just simply collapse after dinner...ignoring their family and friends. You don't have to be one. Read this book with an open mind, and you will never be just a piece of the machine that a select few profit from again.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 1998
I first discovered this book while watching TV, believe it or not. A local newscast was doing an article about people retiring at an early age (say, 30 years old) and one of the interviewees mentioned this book as their guide. I went to the library immediately, and took it out. Two days later, I purchased it. Odd, considering that the exercises that I had done in the book would have told me that it was not worth the time invested, as I could get it from a cheaper source (free, from the library). But it is a book that I will refer to for the rest of my life - not just for guidance, but for reinforcement and support of the choices I have made. This book provides step by step instructions on how to adapt your relationship with money to acheive your dreams - and not just the financial ones. This is by no means easy, but definately acheivable. Don't get me wrong, this book is not about "getting it for less", even if there are many references to that. It is about living within your means, happily. It has helped me to get a grasp on what is truly important in my life. Not a large book, but an extremely informative one. I highly recommend this book to anyone, especially to people who are searching for more balance and genuine happiness in their lives.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 1999
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
As someone who has made and spent an enormous amount of money (fortunately I still have some of it) I was looking for a book that spoke more to the philosophy of money rather than the basics of money management. If you are trying to determine how much money is 'enough' so that you can figure out when to get off the treadmill this book can transform your life.
The authors are able to articulate a point of view as it relates to spending money and value derived that is so poignant you'll never purchase an overpriced item that you don't need again. It presents a lifestyle philosophy that focuses on maximizing enjoyment, not sacrifice.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 1998
If you want to make an effective contribution to the world, "Your Money or Your Life" shows how you can make it happen. By paying attention to the relevant details, you will relearn how to live within your means, and to build a steady income stream to support you for the rest of your time on this planet. And you'll learn along the way how you best choose to live in full harmony, and what that requires in terms of time and money. Enlightening examples abound.
I'm currently working through this process as a married man with heavy mortgage and no children yet. My engineering side appreciates the simplicity and elegance of the process; my business side appreciates the clear approach and proven results. Thanks to this book, my wife and I have paid off our 10% second mortgage in 14 months (yes, fourteen months).
Each of the nine phases of this process build on and reinforce each other. Common pitfalls at each stage are noted, such as 'obsessive penny pinching'. The underlying mantra is 'no shame, no blame, just awareness'. This awareness is the driving force of this process, and (as my alma mater states in its motto, "The truth shall set you free"). This is explicitly a "diets don't work, awareness does" process, as the authors demonstrate repeatedly throughout the book.
The authors recommend a specific place to park your capital, the money which throws off income for you to live on: US Treasuries. This surprises many (such as the reader from Santa Fe), but fits perfectly with the goals of this process. Once you know exactly how much your current lifestyle costs you (by tracking your expenses to the penny so as to miss nothing), you know how much steady investment income you must generate. And once you can see, from your chart on the wall, that in some number of years you will never have to accept a salary again, Life Opens Up. You can contribute in whatever way is most uniquely yours, what is most deeply satisfying, without any money issues -- starting wi! thin a definite and finite period of time from NOW.
And that is the true meaning of Financial Independence. Money becomes a non-issue. And, along the way in this process, you will clear up many other issues which show up from your monthly money tracking.
If you want to contribute effectively while on this planet, you deserve to read this book and work the process through to Financial Independence. You will be able to contribute more effectively with the tools of this book, from the depths of your heart. I know I'll be able to expand what I've done so far, thanks to "Your Money or Your Life".
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 1998
This is a most dynamic piece of work. Not only does it give sound advice on money management and priority organization, but it also reminds individuals of how important it is to take time and reflect on where they have been and where they want to go.
The portion concerning investments and bonds was, however, overemphasized. Though I earn money in savings, it would take a very long time and a lot of luck for me to obtain a yearly interest income that would equal that of a full-time job. If I were to follow this book to the letter, I would definitely benefit monetarily, but I do not think that I would achieve the kind of financial independence that is described. But perhaps anything is possible.
Nevertheless, it is one of the most outstanding works I have read on human nature. I praise the concrete examples it has given on how we can repair our finances and to become more conscious of our spending habits (many of which if we think about will come to realize that our fiscal disparities are mostly created by our lack of focus and good judgment).
The sections about how Westerners have lived before, during and after the Industrial Revolution were very well-presented. I found it quite noteworthy that it is because of our human nature in this part of the world that we have allowed high standards of living to breed even higher standards and that this pattern has been destructive economically, environmentally and socially, as well-depicted by Dominguez and Robin.
All in all, I give the book 5 stars, because it provides a whole new way of looking at our world and ourselves. Perhaps the most stark question I have asked myself during and after reading this bestseller is: Do I want to reorganize and restructure both my finances and my time to provide myself opportunities to be the kind of person I want to, or am I doomed to spend too large a portion of the most healthy and productive years of my existence doing someone else's agendas on someone else's terms?
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 1999
You don't have to be a tree hugger to benefit from the approach in this book. The savings the authors recommend can come from lots of different places: housing, clothes, travel, food, entertainment, having or not having kids, depending on where you start and what is important to you. You might decide that you like living on rice and beans but have to go on a cruise every year. You might go to restaurants a lot, but bike instead of driving and live in a tiny house. In fact, you could decide that you like being a money-hungry yuppie just fine, and increase your consumption instead of cutting it. Or you might ditch your idealistic, low-paying job and get a higher-stress, higher-paying one to reach your goal of financial independence. The good thing is, the book offers a step-by-step plan to help you decide. Even if you like working and are not aiming for early retirement, you can still use the exercises in the book to prioritize spending and savings.
The weakness of the book is that the authors show their own biases too much. The ultimate goal in their view is to move from the city to a small town, quit working for pay entirely, and do volunteer work instead. This is not everybody's cup of tea, and some of the penny-pinching suggestions in the book (having potlucks instead of dinner parties, spending your vacation in your own hard-earned home, buying food in bulk) may seem tacky and depressing. Don't be put off, though: you can still benefit from the financial plan they describe even if you don't share their preferences and goals.