Your Money or Your Life: Book frames work differently, encourages financial independence

September 22, 2022

Vicki Robin’s Your Money or Your Life has an interesting message to tell, which in short is that life is not all about money.

We have begun to define ourselves by what we do for a living, rather than what we believe and value, she writes. “Even if we were financially able to turn our backs on jobs that limit our joy and insult our values, we are all too often psychologically unable to free ourselves. We take our identity and our self-worth from our jobs,” she writes.

We seem, she continues, to be unable to shake off the golden handcuffs of work. We make small changes to benefit our mental health and wellness when what’s needed “is transformation,” she writes. For instance, we often buy things when we “are depressed, when we are lonely, when we are unloved… we buy something to make us feel better.”

So, if money is so great, Robin asks, what have you got to show for it? Have a look, she recommends at all your assets – bank accounts, cash, savings bonds, investments, and life insurance cash values. Subtract all debts. You may find that you’ve been working full time for decades and have little if anything to show for it. Your real hourly wage is based on what you’ve got versus the many years you’ve worked for it, she explains.

Achieving Financial Independence will require you to think differently about spending, she explains. “You (will) never buy things you don’t want or need, and you are immune to the seductiveness of malls, markets and the media… days and even weeks can go by without you thinking about money,” she says of the post-Financial Independence days to come.

She provides a nine-step plan to achieve financial success. “Establish (accurately and honestly) how much money you are trading your life energy for, and discover your real hourly wage,” she suggests.

Find out where your money is going (detailed graphs and examples are provided to help with this revealing calculation). Find out which of your expenses helped you receive “fulfillment, satisfaction, and value in proportion to life energy spent.”

Become, she writes, “a super saver.”  “Your savings rate is one of the most important factors in achieving Financial Independence. Think about savings rate in this way: If you spend 100 per cent of your paycheque, you will never retire. If you spent zero per cent of your paycheque each month, then congrats! You are already financially independent and no longer need to work for money.” Moving towards zero spending will build your independence and reduce your dependence on work, she writes.

We have a writer friend who always says “it’s not what you make, it’s what you save.”

Other advice towards Financial Independence includes living within your means, sound advice now considered “an outmoded notion,” and to “take care of what you have.” Wear things out, do things yourself, and anticipate your needs, the book recommends.

A helpful checklist, entitled “think before you spend,” outlines ways you can get things for less, rather than paying top retail dollar.

There’s a chapter on how to find work that fulfils you and helps “value your life” rather than just paying the most money, and another on investment strategies that are actually aimed at building financial independence.

This is a well-thought-out look at money and work, as well as life, that is well worth a read.

Saving is a key cornerstone of Financial Independence, and a portion of your savings should be directed towards your post-work future. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan can help you get your savings program going, and when it’s time to flee the workplace, offers several great options – including annuities – for converting savings into retirement income. Be sure to check them out today!

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Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.


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