Day 84: Your Money or Your Life

I'm reading Your Money or Your Life as part of the Actor's Fund Money Graduates book club. We read four books a year. The last book was The Millionaire Mind, chosen as the mindset book. This book is the practical advice book of the year.

Here's the thing to know about this book before you start: This book is aiming to fundamentally rewrite the way you think of and deal with money, forever. The changes it aims to make are so deep that the authors fully expect it will take you 5+ years. This is not like most self-help/finance/business books. You're in it for the long haul. This book is the opposite of the infinite bullshit machine.

Most books like this ask you to stop reading mid-book and do whatever activity. The authors of this book are FULLY aware that if they ask you to do that, you will never, ever come back, because some of these steps take five years.

Five actual years–this is not internet exaggeration.

This book freaked me out. The way the authors talk about money as life energy and about environmental collapse freaked me the fuck out. It's sort of fair–I mean, we ARE all going to die and the world IS heading to a bad place right now. I mean, I guess, I just recently decided that Yes, I would like to make money. I would like to own a few things. And this book is basically calling all of that into question, and I just….I was feeling okay about that, for once. But you take a few deep breaths and you move on.

I admire it; they know what they're shooting for is hard and they aren't afraid to ask you to do some hard work to get there. I'd rather have someone say: Hey, you get rich by obsessively tracking your income and expenditures over the course of 15+ years than have someone lie to me and say you get rich by selling Tupperware. You don't get rich by selling Tupperware. That's a lie. Some PEOPLE may have gotten rich, but “you”, that generic avatar, do not get rich that way.

Minor quibble: This book thinks it is more clever than it is. The dramatic title should give you an idea, but The Tower of Bauble? Making a Dying? At one point they call into question the validity of germ theory? I guess all I'm saying is sometimes I have to grit my teeth.

But, even with all that, I am glad I read it. I could write probably 100 blog posts on various ideas in the book. Here are some more or less randomly selected examples:

“If an experience or purchase is truly fulfilling, the desire disappears for a long time. You are satisfied, contented, at peace.”

Uff-da. Suddenly I am thinking about all the purchases I've made left me unsatisfied. Even travel, which I love, leaves me wanting to travel more, not less. Does it mean it's not fulfilling? Existential crisis in 3…2…

“Those magazines drain your energy three times over: once in earning the money to buy them, again in staying up late to read them and finally in feeling guilty when you haven't finished them by the time the next issue arrives (to say nothing of having to store or dispose of them). “

Damn, son. As someone who is paring away all the symptoms of my own FOMO (I could write an entry about redefining FOMO as an asocial fear), this was huge. Long-time readers know about my problem on GoodReads–I (used to) spend as much time adding books to my to-read list as reading books. I am crushed under the weight of my own aspirations. And when you throw aspirational purchases into the mix, things just get more depressing.

Should you read it? I have no idea. (I don't know why I ask that question when reviewing a book.) If you're really interested in personal finance, if you've been interested in early retirement/financial independence, and/or personal finance that is at least trying to be environmentally and socially responsible, give it a read. I don't know yet if I'm going to pursue the steps in the book, but the ideas are audacious and worth thinking through. The idea that all my money decisions are aligned with my priorities sounds badass. It's a frugality that sounds great instead of sad.

If you're familiar already with the premise of financial independence, it may be a bit basic. This is where the idea came from though, and I'm always a big fan of going back to the source material.

Anybody else read the book? More impressively, has anybody else actually done the exercises?! I'm still thinking about how much of it I'll take on.

p.s. This book marks 13 of the 16 I'm aiming to read this year. My original goal was 12. Yes, I do feel like a champion, thank you for asking.