Book: 'Your Money or Your Life'

marylizAugust 28, 2008

Lately, I have been reading 'Your Money or Your Life.' I believe that brownysmom recommended this one. Please correct me if I am wrong.

I skimmed the book ... and came across the pages of the chapter that lists "101 ways to save money." I am already doing a lot of these. Not a lot new there. I was all set to take the book back to the library, but then I came across Chapter 3, which spoke to me.

It basically said, "You've tried to make a budget and stick to it. Then you gave up, because your budget didn't take into account the way you really live." That is what I experienced. I gave up early, instead of going through all kinds of ridiculous efforts to spend only what I had designated for each category.

Later in the chapter, it said something like, "Your monthly budget gets blown by a large, one-time expense. It might be expected, such as an insurance payment, or an emergency, such as a vet bill." Yes! How many times has that happened? It made me decide that a budget was a waste of time. How could I possibly spend my money exactly the way I planned in advance, before my life actually happened?

The chapter goes on to explain that one cannot expect a budget to work; one can only track expenses, then (by a formula explained in another chapter) decide if our time spent earning the money is equal to the benefit we get from spending the money that way.

The author gives an example: Magazines. We have discussed magazines on this very forum. You buy them, or they arrive in the mail. How much time at work did that cost you? (And that is your adjusted rate of compensation, not just based on salary.) You have to make time to read them. How much of your time does that take? Then, when you are done with them, assuming you actually read them, if they don't end up lining your closet, you must give them away, or recycle them. How much of your time does that take?

No blame. Just be objective. Just calculate the time involved with handling magazines.

Then, how much pleasure do you derive from your time with the magazines? If it is enough enjoyment that you say it is worthwhile, then go ahead and keep getting magazines. You have a nice hobby.

But if you realize that it just isn't worth it to you, this exercise will help you make the decision to stop wasting your time with magazines, and use your time elsewhere, for more pleasurable activities.

This is a great book! Thank you for recommending it!

MaryLiz in Michigan

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I read this book a good while ago when I was first married, and it had such good suggestions and advice. I was particularly struck by the (then new to me - I was a clueless newlywed) concept of paying down your mortgage principal and being able to track those extra payments and watch the interest shrink.

This was the first financial how-to book that really stuck with me. I may have to pull it out again for a refresher!

Here is a link that might be useful: Your Money or Your Life

    Bookmark   August 28, 2008 at 9:37AM
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I haven't read the book, so I can't comment on whether it's good overall, but all I was thinking when reading this post is that the budget in question wasn't drawn very well. Insurance and routine vet bills (yearly exams, shots, and a sick visit or two) are predictable expenses that should be included in one's budget.

People often make budgets that are based almost solely on their regular monthly expenses (mortgage/rent, utilities, food, etc.) and don't go any further. They don't include entirely predictable but non-monthly expenses like insurance and property taxes, and they don't include items that are inevitable but not predictable as to timing and exact amount, such as home and car maintenance, home decorating, gifts, dining, medical deductibles and co-payments, entertainment, vacation, clothing, and so on.

I think that's where the expense tracking comes in. After tracking expenses for several years (hopefully using a computer program like Quicken, which makes this *so* much easier!), you can make a budget that's actually realistic. You'll know that if you're not setting aside $XXX per month, you won't have enough to cover it if, for example, the water heater bursts or the front stairs collapse.

I do agree that it's important to examine purchases to see whether they're worth their weight, but if you only track expenses and never have a comprehensive budget, you'll never know it when you inadvertently let your expenses slide too high.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2008 at 10:06AM
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I think I might have to get this book - it sounds very logical to me. I'd like to read that chapter on tracking expenses. I do a mix of budgeting and expense tracking - mostly because when things go wrong around here, it's usually *really wrong*, and would throw the budget off no matter what (our last unexpected vet bills were each over $400, the last unexpected vehicle bill was over $200 - and was in the same month as one of the vet bills). While you can plan for a lot, you can't plan for everything, and sometimes the only thing you can do is prioritize for the month and play catch-up later.

I'll have to check out the book - thanks for posting your thoughts, MaryLiz.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2008 at 11:22AM
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I've read the book multiple times, and when I'm shopping I often think, " I like this X but I'd have to work Y amount of hours to buy it." It makes me spend less. Other times I think, "I like this item, but not 2 hours of my life worth of liking."

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 9:54PM
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I think I'll go to the library today and see if they have this book. That way I can read it but I don't have to own it, store it or pay for it!

    Bookmark   September 3, 2008 at 8:04AM
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I have to get that book. Don't think I have read it. It is hard to budget for emergency's but I keep some money unaccounted for in my budget. It didn't work when DH was involved in the money decisions because he was the type that called to bank to see how much money was there and then try to spend without thinking that checks didn't clear.

Magazines, yes they can be a challenge when you get to many. I get two subscriptions and read them when I wait for the kids to get off the bus or need some quite time outside by myself. I pass mine off to my neighbor after I am done. I do keep about 12 at most and then I will look at them again and pass them on.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2008 at 11:22AM
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Jannine - I think of the library as the big place that stores my books for me :) I almost never buy a book unless I've checked it out twice first - if I cared enough to check it out a second time, I must want it bad enough to store it.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2008 at 9:41PM
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And for those of us who love our PDAs, it's available at & an ebook doesn't take up any extra space!

Here is a link that might be useful: Ereader version

    Bookmark   September 9, 2008 at 1:52PM
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Sounds like I should read it. Another good one is "How to Get What You Want in Life with the Money You Already Have".
That one really got me saving money and back on the frugal track that I'd fallen off. Whoops - I need it again. I bought 2 copies, one to lend and one to keep. And I think I will read it again, as well as check out "your money". From the sound of it, "Your money..." could be useful for my daughter.
Thanks for the reviews.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2008 at 3:25PM
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Picked up the book yesterday at the library. Reading something else so as soon as I am done I will start reading it.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2008 at 10:51PM
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Just a note on budgets: Any budget that doesn't include savings is bound to fail. Everyone needs a savings cushion for unexpected events. If you don't have savings these events are going to put you in debt and you aren't going to get anywhere.

eg I got wacked w/ a $1,400 car repair bill in July. On top of the $800 I know I'm going to need to spend on new tires. If I didn't have any savings, I'd also be paying interest on that $1,400.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2008 at 7:46AM
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