Book Review: Your Money or Your Life

It seems like every blogger I read loves Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence, so I decided to find out what it’s really about. After all the hype, I expected to come away with a complete plan to makeover my entire life. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for me, but I think it could be excellent for people who need this book’s kind of help.

A Plan for People with Consumer Debt
I think it’s a very good plan, but it seems to work better for people with different goals than we have and less student loan debt. We can reduce our debt a certain amount, but until those loans are paid off, we can’t eliminate it. That means we can’t do much else with our lives or our money for the next several years. It’s also not worth it to pay off some of those loans. Mine are only at 3.85%, and we can make more than that in a savings account, definitely more than that investing!

Determining Your Total Earnings, Spending, and True Wage 
I liked the idea of figuring out how much we made over the course of our lives until now. I found that I had more than I expected. They also suggested tracking spending closely, but we already do that. Just to give if a full test, I tracked my expenses for one month. The results weren’t all that surprising.

I very much liked the concept of calculating the value of your time and your true hourly wage to determine whether that wage is less than the value of your time. I found that my true wage exceeds the value of my time, which made me pretty happy. It also gave me something to consider if I’m offered other job opportunities – would the new wage be worth as much as it seems?

The Motivational Debt Chart
I also liked the idea of the debt chart. A visual representation of debt can be a great motivator for reducing it, but we’re already very motivated. Making more cuts isn’t going to be easy for us. We’ve made some reductions, but we’re very close to the basics at this point.
Aspects that Don’t Work for Me
Many of the other ideas they mention to reduce debt and increase life value simply don’t work when you live in an expensive city like Los Angeles. Moving closer to work is a great idea, but whose work are we going to move closer to?

We also don’t overspend the way many of the couples in the book did, so our money values aren’t that far out of whack. Our debt generally isn’t from trying to keep up with the Joneses, overshopping to console ourselves, or poor money management. Instead, it’s largely a result of our graduate degrees not yet recouping their investment, but they will in time. We both understand that we’re working to get more value out of the rest of our lives, but we also receive some value from our work. We chose to get our graduate degrees later in life (late twenties/early thirties) because they have personal value to us, but we knew at the time that it would mean taking on additional debt.

Final Thoughts
Overall, I think the book can be a life-changer for people who need motivation to change, need a better understanding of the true value of money, and have a financial history that lends itself to the program. We don’t and given where we live, our goals, and our chosen career paths (which do require us to remain in California in high-income/high-cost areas), I don’t see it working for us.

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