I’ve finally gotten around to reading Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominquez which I’ve had in my closet for almost 2 years. I had hesitated reading this book because I really thought that the original publish date was so outdated it would have antiquated personal finance information, but what I’ve found is that even though the data is old, the ideas and concepts behind the book still make sense today.

Concept 1: forget budgeting – similar to most diets, it doesn’t work in the long run.

Using dieting as an analogy, the authors make a point that budgeting is similar to a diet in that it’s  meant to restrict you (in this case from spending money) and this can lead to feeling deprived and sooner or later you’ll splurge and feel guilty never really being able to stick to a budget.

Instead, using their 9 steps helps the reader make a lifestyle change – which works in the long run.

Concept 2: think about what really, truly makes you happy.

I’ve never been someone who goes shopping when I feel sad or like I deserve a treat, so many of their comments about shopping to fulfill a need were foreign to me. However, their point about thinking back to the dreams of childhood and remembering what you “wanted to be” or what you “wanted to do” are a good starting point for those unhappy about where they are in life.

The idea that things don’t make a person happy is one that I’ve always agreed with, but I like how the authors made a point to remind you to ask yourself, “Do I really need this? Is it worth the “life” hours it will cost me?”

Two of the nine steps have to do with tallying where your money goes and recording how you feel about your expenditures – neutral, positive, or negative. The idea is to find things that you really can’t do without because they make you happy and eliminate or reduce the things that aren’t as satisfying, which in the end reduces your expenses.

If anything this strategy helps remind me to ask my husband when he mentions another purchase, do you really need this? Or, can we wait on this or do without?

Concept 3: keep track of your expenses and income to the penny.

Okay, this sounds like budgeting, but instead of concocting a budget based on guesses or estimates or last months numbers, the authors suggest recording every penny for quite a while, then creating a large wall chart to visually see how you’re progressing. I’m combining steps 2 and 4, I think, but the bottom line is to really see where your money is going so you can make changes to your behavior.

These changes you make help you feel in control of your spending and over time change your behavior allowing you to never feel deprived.

I honestly don’t know if I’ll do the nine steps the authors suggest since I track my spending and expenses religiously using Quick Books (which creates charts for me to use as a visual), and I feel I live fairly frugally. However, the authors’ points encouraged me to pull some of my expense reports, sit with my husband and discuss where we can improve.

And that’s a great first step in and of itself.

I’m curious to know who has actually done these steps. Please share your thoughts and ideas if you have.

10 Comments

  1. AverageJoe Reply

    It’s interesting to me how you realize truth when it’s mentioned several times. David Chilton, of The Wealthy Barber fame, writes that budgets are baloney and goes on to make conguent arguments to the ones the authors seem to be making here. I’ll have to read this book. Thanks!

    • @Average Joe – I’ll have to check out the Wealthy Barber. I think the point is that creating an unrealistic budget just sets a person up for failure, whereas taking what you know about your spending patterns through realistic transactions gives you a better idea of where you money is going. All I know is that I love my Quickbooks graphs. 🙂

  2. Joe @ Retire By 40 Reply

    I thought it was a pretty good book too. I’m keeping track of income and expense and it really helped us figured out how to deal with the future.
    I have a few books to giveaway this month, come by and enter. 🙂

    • @Joe – I’ll definitely stop by and check out your give away. I was able to use my Quickbooks graphs and discuss areas of saving with Mr. LH. It’s helpful that I always record transactions and code them based on categories.

  3. I’ve not read the book, but plan to eventually. I used to track all our expenses down to the penny, but only do an occasional spot check these days to make sure we stay on track. Once you’re consistently on track, the returns on time invested with keeping up the spreadsheets diminished.

    • @101Centavos – That’s what the book suggests; track all of the income/expenses for a while, then you don’t need to once you’ve gotten your spending to exactly where you want it. I still record all of my transactions, but since I use Quickbooks, it’s not that hard to do.

  4. I was able to use my Quickbooks graphs and discuss areas of saving with Mr. LH. It’s helpful that I always record transactions and code them based on categories. Thanks for sharing..

  5. Ashleen Moreen Reply

    I actually learning from you and I really appreciate it. Your concepts here are all true. I was keep on budgeting my money in this past few days and I am getting sick thinking over it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here.

  6. Truly useful article. Got to learn loads of good tips from it. Thanks!

  7. Brilliant content to say the least…..It’s necessary to have a track over your monthly income, expenses and savings in order to keep the expenditure under control. But at the same time there isn’t any need to be too strict to maintain budget…. If you manage to remain debt free and clear your dues within the given period, there is no need to get worried and you can definitely utilize your money sometimes for the things that bring happiness in your life….

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