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Author: Vicki Robin | Publisher: Penguin Books; Revised edition (December 10, 2008)

Summary: An honest book that forces you not only to answer the question, “your money or your life?” but exactly how much each dollar spent cost you in life-energy gained(or lost). “I don’t know how to be happy. They didn’t teach it in school.” – Your Money or Your Life

Enough is not the minimum amount for survival; it is the exact amount that gives you fulfillment without excess. There is nothing in your life that is more valuable than your time.”

Your Money or Your Life?

It seems like a simple question, yet many of us our trading away decades of our lives for money. Has it been worth it? Do you know how much money you’ve made in your working years? These are the questions you’ll face as you make your way through Vicki Robin’s thought-provoking read. These aren’t easy questions to answer but you’ll have to if you ever want to break out of the cycle of trading away years of your life for hours of pay. To escape the cycle of trading life for money, Vicki offers a 9-step plan:

  1. Make peace with the past
  2. Live in the present by tracking your “life energy” (a formula for calculating life traded for money is available in the book)
  3. Where is your money going each month?
  4. Three 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 money?
  5. Make life energy visible (create a wall or online chart plotting monthly income and expenses)
  6. Value your life energy – minimize spending
  7. Value your life energy – maximize income
  8. Find your “crossover point” where monthly income is finally greater than your monthly expenses aka financial independence (commonly referred to as FI/RE)
  9. Invest for Financial Independence (FI)

Once you’re out of debt, you have choices. It’s very empowering to realize that every dollar of every paycheck is your own.”

Vicki recommends that living within your means is to buy only what you need, using debt only if you can promptly pay it off, and to always have savings for a rainy day or emergency. Your “crossover point” comes when you have 25x your annual expenses (using the 4% withdrawal rate). “For example, an annual expense of $36,000 requires $900,000 in total assets ($36,000 x 25) for becoming financially independent.”

[bctt tweet=”If you didn’t have to work for a living, what would you do with your time? – @vicki_robin” username=”PayBalances”]

Buckminster Fuller meant when he said, ‘We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims.’ Less than half of Americans are “satisfied” with their jobs. We are working more, but enjoying life less.”

By the end of the book, you will have learned the steps and why it’s possible to have sustainable passive income come from a source other than a job. That is how you know when you’ve reached financial independence, and Vicki offers you a measurable, practical plan for doing so, “your investment capital will be higher than your monthly expenses — and your employment officially becomes optional.”

The rule of thumb is that anything will double in 10-years if it grows at a 7 percent rate. – Your Money or Your Life

10 Fav Quotes and Takeaways

There are so many quotables, I could just as easily quote the entire book and still not do it justice. But, I’m not here to get fined. Here are some of my favorite takeaways. If you’ve read the book, share yours in the comments below or be sure to share these to social with #PayBal to join the conversation.

  1. Redefining “work” as simply any productive or purposeful activity, with paid employment being just one activity among many. There is only one purpose served by paid employment: getting paid. That is the only real link between work and money.
  2. Construct an FI portfolio that matches your way of thinking and of living, your tolerance for risk, and your creativity in applying consciousness rather than money to meet your needs.
  3. For those opting for FI, it reinforces the awareness that work is no longer about “another day, another dollar,” but is rather about drawing one day closer to their goal of financial freedom.
  4. An investment is simply somewhere you put your money hoping to make more money. Joining an investment club was a safe and fun way to educate ourselves about investing in individual stocks.
  5. There is no need to pay someone to “manage” your investments, because – get this – low-fee index funds often outperform managed funds.
  6. “By periodically investing in an index fund, for example, the know-nothing investor can actually outperform most investment professionals.”
  7. The only days you care about an investment’s value are the day you buy it and the day you sell it.
  8. Pay off debt and avoid it in the future. Live below your means by spending less than you earn. Invest the rest in low-cost index funds.
  9. Take a minute to think about what would happen if you knew that you would have to work for money for a limited, foreseeable length of time instead of that vague limbo of working until traditional retirement.
  10. One of the cornerstones of this program, for those wishing to go all the way to Financial Independence, is concentrating on making money now so that you don’t have to make money later.

Many, many people spend all of their income and then some on maintaining their job–and consider themselves fortunate. Most people find that their expenses go down significantly when they leave paid employment. No more commuting expenses, no more dress-for-success expenses, no more restaurant-lunch expenses–and many more such reductions.


We’ll keep it simple. If you want to change your money mindset, read this book! If you’re still not convinced, check out these other great reviews and interviews with Vicki Robin from our network: