Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez Book Review

Your Money or Your Life Book Review

This is the 4th personal finance book that I set out to read in 2019, and it took this long because this book took forever to get a hold of from the library.  I was like number 130 on hold or something like that.  After 9 months of waiting, my husband found an older version of the book (the 2008 edition and not the 2018 edition) from another library.  I finished the book in under two weeks, here’s my Your Money or Your Life book review.  I read it faster than Joe from Retire by 40 😉 check out his book review here.

It was surprisingly good and I especially liked the term “Making a Dying” instead of “Making a Living”.

Related: End of Life Planning Checklist in Canada

Your Money or Your Life

Your  Money or Your Life is like go-to book for those seeking financial independence, and in the 2018 edition of the book, even has an intro by Mr. Money Mustache, himself.  The book was written by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin.  Joe Dominguez was a financial analyst on Wall Street and retired at the age of 31 in the 1970’s after following the 9 step financial independence program that he created and taught.  Joe Dominguez has since died in 1997, but it sounded like he was the original #FIREstarter.  I’m surprised it took around 15-20 years for the concept of FIRE to become so prevalent and mainstream, especially since he started it in the 1970’s.

Here are the 9 steps to financial freedom according to my Your Money or Your Life book review:

  • Making Peace with the Past- The authors ask you to calculate how much you have earned in your entire life (calculate everything, even $1.00 you found on the sidewalk).  This is sort of similar to the calculation of your average salary over time that I recently did.  In the US, you can log in to a government website and find a number of your total earnings (pretty cool, we don’t have that here in Canada).
  • Being in the Present: Track Your Life Energy– Then you calculate all the time that it takes to get ready to go to work, to commute to work, to prepare meals for work, and calculate your actual wage per hour from that.  Someone thinking that they are making $35 an hour will be shocked to find out it’s actually something like $25 per hour after the deductions of life energy ‘zappage’.
  • Tabulate Monthly Your Money- The next step is to add up all your expenses (I think they recommend down to the penny).  I do this and record this in my day planner, but not to the penny.
  • Ask yourself some Nature of Fulfillment Questions- After you calculate your life energy costs for work, you are asked to evaluate whether you receive fulfillment from the spending of your life energy, and whether it aligns with your life values, and if you didn’t have to work, would your job be what you would be doing?
  • Make Life Energy Visible– In this chapter, Your Money or Your Life suggests that you make a wall chart to record and graph your income and your expenses.  The wall charts in the chapter are pretty cool.  I found some PDF worksheets here from a website called Bigmarker.com.
Your Money or Your Life Spreadsheet
Source: Bigmarker.com

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  • Minimize Spending– They suggest things like only buying groceries and food that are on sale and when they are in season.  And thinking ahead instead of buying things on the whim when you need them.  I thought of this when I ran out of flour today making waffles- I should plan ahead and stock up on flour when it is on sale.  I used to buy apples, oranges, and bananas regularly throughout the year whether they were in season or not because they are easy to eat when you’re at work for a snack.  However, I have changed in the past few years and try to buy more fruit when it is in season.  For example, apples are more expensive in the summer so I opt for berries instead now.
  • Maximize Income– In this chapter, Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez talk about how the industrial revolution changed the concept of work.  They suggest redefining work to yourself and this makes life whole again.  For example, there are a lot of non-monetary benefits for ‘work’, such as contentment, self-expression, contentment.  They suggest maximizing your income by going for Part-Time FIRE, or getting better higher paying jobs that align with your financial integrity.
  • Getting to the Crossover Point– The most exciting part of the book is the Crossover Point.  Where your monthly expenses and your investment income meet (or cross) and intersect, then the income from your investment capital becomes higher than your monthly expenses.
  • Managing your Finances– Finally, in the last step of the Financial Independence plan it is about managing your capital and your investments.  They talk about index funds, about bonds, and how to keep your FI-capital safe.

What I Liked About YMOYL

I was surprised that the YMOYL book made me take some action.  I didn’t draw out a wall chart or anything, but in the section about minimizing spending, I thought hard about trying to find a pair of replacement Sunday Best pants.  They have holes in the butt on both sides but they are so comfortable (100% tencel) and I haven’t gotten rid of them yet.  Instead, I just wear a longer top to cover the holes (which I have tried to repair with no luck).

Anyway, this Your Money or Your Life book review inspired me to try patching my holey-pants again- this is because clothes end up in the landfill and every purchase we make is something that is created that will eventually be discarded.  To patch the pants this time, I got a black iron on patch that I found on Amazon.

YMOYL was more spiritual than I thought it would be, and it talked a lot about life’s purpose and what you want out of life (because life is short).  It talked about how people value TRAVEL but what you are actually valuing is freedom or change from the daily routine.  This is very true.  I can’t wait to travel- I like seeing new things, I like seeing different things, and the daily routine can be a bit of a downer for me.

What I Didn’t Like about YMOYL

I didn’t like that it was more focused on frugality rather than the investment portion of financial independence.  Maybe the 2018 edition is different, but the 2008 edition that I read talked about having your nest egg in 100% bonds (insert wide eyed emoji here).

I also didn’t like that they over simplified having ‘enough’.  Yeah, sure $950 in monthly expenses is enough, but what about inflation?  (They did a very brief discussion on how to manage inflation- and one of the suggestions was to buy things on sale).  Also, more importantly, is $950 enough when you are 89 and in need of private long term care or private caregiving because you want to stay at home and need a private caregiver.

No, I don’t think so.  More like $5000 a month by that time (or more).  However, I guess when you get to your 80’s and 90’s you could always deplete your savings for the high caregiving costs at that time.  Anyway, I’m still in the “NYTP: Never touch your principal” camp rather than withdrawing.

The other thing I didn’t like was how they talk about lending money to your friends with interest. And making sure they aren’t a flight risk before you do. Personally I try to avoid lending money to friends that I expect back.

Genymoney.ca’s Verdict of Your Money or Your Life

All in all, I think this is a good book, especially for someone who isn’t familiar with the financial independence concept, and the concept of simple living and a simple lifestyle.  It would definitely be a game changer for someone like that.  However, for me, someone who already lives quite simply, this was a nice review or reinforcement.

I liked the practical “how to” make a wall chart, but I think it lacks practicality in how one should invest the capital savings.  The authors seem to just gloss over it.

Hope you enjoyed this Your Money or Your Life book review.  If you’re interested in getting it from Amazon, here’s the link. There’s more than a million copies sold!

If you’re not as interested in index investing, here are some dividend investing books I would recommend, if you are interested.

Have you read Your Money or Your Life? 

Have you tried doing the Wall Chart that Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez outline in YMOYL?

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10 thoughts on “Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez Book Review”

  1. what do you think about the wall chart idea vs. a big spreadsheet?
    I have everything in a spreadsheet but would consider a big wall poster with income/outgoings & net worth but wouldn’t like it so much if people came over to visit.
    I’m a bit of a secret millionniare. 🙂

    Reply
    • @Gentleman’s Family Finances- Oh, I am totally the same. Maybe hide it somewhere where people can’t see? Or use a regular sized paper and not make it a wall chart and just make it very neat and tidy. I haven’t tried the wall chart idea myself though. A lot of people chart their crossover point on a spreadsheet and make it into a graph (e.g. Million Dollar Journey has a recent post on it with the Crossover point indicated) and I think that looks just as great.

      Reply
  2. I’m pretty sure they updated the investment part in the newer edition.
    100% bond doesn’t work anymore. It’s a different time now.
    This book is top 5 for me. It’s a great motivation to start saving toward FI.
    Thanks for the mention!!

    Reply
    • @Joe- Wow, I’m surprised it is a top 5 for you! In your review it sounded like it was hard for you to read it. Yes, I agree it was very inspiring indeed. It definitely inspired me to patch up my pants instead of getting new ones, haha.

      Reply
  3. I did read the updated version of the book last year and I believe that they updated the investment recommendation, gotta look it up again. 100% bonds is too safe, gotta at least have 20% stocks in your portfolio.
    What stuck out to me was the value of time and how Vicki provide a breakdown how much time we really take up in a day going to work. It’s not just the hours you log in but also the commute time and how much you really earn because of how much you pay for taking public transit/gas

    Reply
    • @Kris- Thanks for sharing that update, maybe I should put a hold on the newer edition of the book again. Yes I enjoyed reading that part too- getting ready to go to work, driving/ public transportation, preparing food etc. it all adds up.

      Reply
    • @Drew- Thanks, it sounds like (I’m not 100% sure) that the US site shows cumulative income total. The Notice of Assessment history has to be added up, and in recent years, it doesn’t differentiate the total income. For example, I would rather see my employment income and not have my investment income included in this because it’s not my ‘worked’ hours.

      Reply

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