Enough! (a book review post)

I suppose this is a good time to follow up on the dream of living in Hicksville. 

Quite some time ago, I mentioned this book: 
and David asked me for a book review.
(Mrs. G. had kindly left her own brief review in the comment section.)

Your Money or Your Life 

This book by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin challenge readers to transform relationships with money and to achieve financial independence.  SuperDad has already read it, and I am still working on it. There are a number of exercises (“steps”) the reader is supposed to work through, in order to truly see a difference in his/her relationship with money.  When evaluating your personal spending habits, they propose that there are 3 questions that will transform your life:

  1. Did I receive fulfillment, satisfaction, and value in proportion to life energy spent?
  2. Is this expenditure of life energy in alignment with my values and life purpose?
  3. How might this expenditure change if I didn’t have to work for a living? 

I’m not sure I especially like those questions.  They seem a little dry to me (or maybe it is the talk about “life energy” that stumps me as a SAHM).  And I’m not sure I want to “transform my life.”  I confess to being wary of anything and anyone that wants me to make a big change.  Uncle Sam gives us orders to move every couple of years; what more change do I really want?! 

Below is a different series of questions that the authors wanted me to ask myself, and these are more my style:

  • What did you want to be when you grew up?
  • What have you always wanted to do that you haven’t yet done?
  • What have you done in your life that you are really proud of?
  • If you knew you were going to die within a year, how would you spend that year?
  • What brings you the most fulfillment — and how is that related to money?
  • If you didn’t have to work for a living, what would you do with your time?                                                          

I like those questions!  I don’t feel threatened by them, and they have been helping me to think through opportunities to spend time or money.   

I grew up in a household where money wasn’t plentiful. We had enough, but not a lot of extras. My dad is cheap frugal. And have you ever heard that you marry someone much like your opposite-gender parent? Well, my dh does have a thrifty attitude towards money! Since I was raised this way –at least when I was a young child — it has been a comfortable fit for the two of us.   He proudly says that I am “cheap to keep”  and I actually consider this a compliment.  (Calm down there, folks; he buys me jewelry for Christmas and birthday!)   I avoid the mall as much as possible, because I don’t enjoy it.  I’d rather go barefoot than hit a shoe sale.  I just don’t enjoy spending money if I can avoid it. 
[Sorry, Sweetheart… scrapbooking is another story altogether.]

I can’t claim the way I was raised as my own choice.  I didn’t see any special joy in being a “have-not” (esp. when I noticed that I wasn’t dressed in the same style as my peers.  This can be painful in the early teen years).  However, I think it did make me more creative.  After all, when Santa doesn’t bring you a Barbie house, you can always make your own by setting up your dolls on different levels of the bookshelf.  My ‘not-really-Barbie’ didn’t have a sports car or a motorhome, but she did have a really cool sailboat made out of a basket and some fabric. 

The authors of this book discuss the pleasures of frugality.  “Frugality is enjoying the virtue of getting good value for every minute of your life energy and from everything you have the use of.”  They state that, “Frugal people … get value from everything — a dandelion or a bouquet of roses, a single strawberry or a gourmet meal. ”  “To be frugal means to have a high joy-to-stuff ratio.  If you get one unit of joy for each material possession, that’s frugal.  But if you need ten possessions to even begin registering on the joy meter, you’re missing the point of being alive.”   

Okay, I get that.   And I certainly understand some of the basic ways to save money…like stop trying to impress other people, don’t go shopping, and live within your means.  SuperDad wants to retire in a few years, so this one is particularly an issue for us right now.  In order for us to live within our means 3 years from now, we need to be living well below our means at this very moment.  Now that 2 out of 4 boys are in high school, our food bill and the cost of extra-curricular activities are two budget items that keep going up, Up, UP! 

Another question that has been dogging my mind:  How much is enough ….enough money, enough clothing, enough time, enough food/calories…. and as the authors write

 “enough for your survival, enough for your comforts and even some special luxuries, with no excess to burden you unnecessarily.  Enough is a powerful and free place.  A confident and flexible place.” 

So, how much is enough for me? For you?  And what would this world look like if everyone stopped at enough? 

Are you ready to go read this book?  Are you ready to make changes in your lifestyle?  Or have you already done these things? 

Tell me what you think!


4 responses to “Enough! (a book review post)

  1. “Enough” for most, has no upper plateau.
    When I was making $40K 12 years ago I would say “if I just made $50K we would be perfect”
    $50 came and went, so I said “if I just made $75K, we would be ok”.
    That number was passed and I worked harder and longer .
    When I made over $100K I said “I think $140K is the number”
    And I travelled around the globe and ran myself into the ground.
    Ended up in the hospital for 100 days, still off work on disability.
    Making 50% of what I used to, happiest I have been in my life as I re directed my priorities into family.
    Best relationship ever with my son and wife.
    Love being frugal and “enjoying the virtue of getting good value for every minute of my life energy and from everything I have the use of.”
    I have changed, but it took a big wake up call and cost me my hearing, but not my life.
    Great post and thank you!

  2. KC–I have read this book and read several like it while me and the missus were planning to quit our teaching jobs so that I could make the pots. We got so thoroughly into the habit of NOT spending money, that YES, when we get something, it is well considered and also appreciated.
    I think it is also important where you spend. You have been kind enough to shop with me, which I try to do the same: if I need a gift, I look to the genuine artist that I like first. Same with as much groceries and the rest–trying not to send my dollars to China. But that is a whole different subject…
    Anyway, for people with kids it is harder to budget things of course, but you and your husband are quite smart and resourceful, and it seems like you could probably do anything!

  3. I LOVED this post — how thought-provoking!

    Funny enough, in my teen years, my parents had become multi-millionaires, but they instilled in me the value of your time, energy and money. I learned from them, the biggest luxury is time. Time to do what you want, when you want.

    And, I have learned that in my case, that means being careful with a buck. I agree *totally* with the book author. Too many people think if they buy this or that, they will be happy. But when it comes down to it, none of that matters. It’s great to have it if you can afford it, but to kill yourself with stress in supporting those purchases is stupid.

    LOVED the post again.


  4. I promise you, though, buying my stuff will make you happy.