Book Review: Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin

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Don’t feel like reading all of this review right now? You can Watch or Listen to the Your Money or Your Life book review in video format, by Jesse Langel, on Amazon’s website.

It’s impossible to read “Your Money or Your Life” and not wonder if putting in so many hours at work is worth the salary you’re getting.

Many individuals are earning money by sacrificing time left on earth for something that can suck up joy and amazement, as well as damage relationships, according to the writers Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez. A chart listing the ages and average remaining life expectancy in years and hours can be found in the first chapter.

We do, in fact, require money and paychecks in order to pay our bills. However, the authors contend that we may have gotten a bad bargain and aren’t making as much per hour as we think. After all, if we deduct the cost of clothes we buy to impress coworkers, the cost of commuting, and the costs of decompressing, such as going to the movies or taking expensive trips.

“Money is something you trade your life energy for. You sell your time for money. It doesn’t matter that Ned over there sells his time for a hundred dollars and you sell yours for twenty dollars an hour. Ned’s money is irrelevant to you. The only real asset you have is your time. The hours of your life.”― Vicki Robin, Your Money or Your Life

Then things start to become interesting.

In arguing that our money habits are part of the reason we are bound to the 9 to 5 rat race, Robin and Dominguez invite readers to fantasize about a different reality that is more to our liking. All in all, the 1992 classic, which was updated in 2018, provides readers with a nine-step program aimed at improving our relationship with money so that we can focus on our own agenda as much as possible.

This isn’t the kind of book you’ll read if you want to learn how to get rich. However, it will prompt you to consider how to live with just enough. As a result of the processes, the writers were able to leave the traditional daily work grind early.

It was the birth of a personal finance best-seller.

Dominguez’s audio tape course and workbook on how to achieve financial independence inspired parts of the book “Your Money or Your Life” (as he became financially independent by age 31). Dominguez and Robin started collaborating in the 1970s, organizing financial education seminars and other community projects.

They published “Your Money or Your Life” twenty-seven years ago. Dominguez died in 1997, and Robin last revised “Your Money or Your Life” in 2018—with an introduction by Pete Adeney, best known as “Mr. Money Mustache,” a well-known financial independence blogger. Many regard the co-authors to be the forefathers of the Financial Independence Retire Early (or FIRE) movement.

This most recent edition includes modifications to account for the modern world (such as the existence of smartphones) while preserving the essential ideas that have, for the most part, stood the test of time. If you want to find motivation to care about money, purge your money-wasting behaviors, oppose dead-end routines, and reconnect with previous goals, this book may be for you. “Your Money or Your Life” might go well with a few sessions of job counseling.

The chapters are extensive, yet the book’s 306 pages fly by quickly. There are examples from people who completed the program successfully, quotes from philosophers, and money-related prompts such as “explain an early memory of money and how it impacts you now” and “what have you always wanted to accomplish but haven’t done yet?”

Don’t be put off by the large number of tasks the book asks for you to complete when you begin reading the book.

Yes, the authors advise you to figure out how much money you’ve made throughout your life, including money you earned as a youngster (you can get a ballpark figure from the Social Security Administration website, but the authors advocate getting a more precise response). As a personal finance novice, you can still learn a lot from reading “Your Money or Your Life” even if you don’t do the math.

The reward for finishing this book

Aside from completing all the steps mentioned in the book for achieving financial freedom, people who want to learn about money and personal finance should find this book fairly user-friendly.

It’s as much a philosophical work as it is a list of money advice. You’ll be reminded to live within your means, use long-term investing strategies, and avoid buying things you won’t need.

More intriguingly, you’ll be given cues that encourage you to fantasize about life. For example, “Money or Your Life” says, “Ask yourself how you would spend your time if you could take a year off with compensation.”

Readers will also learn about some unusual ways to save money, such as volunteering at World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms in exchange for a free vacation without having to pay for meals or lodging, or building a garden to cut down on grocery costs.


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Traditional budgeting advice sometimes overlooks unconventional lifestyles, but not in this book.

Your Money or Your Life even acknowledges in its pages that “not everyone can get their squiggly lives into the straight lines of a spreadsheet,” Justin, for example, exchanges chores for a room at an elderly lady’s home. This book has the appearance of being read by a millennial.

Your Money or Your Life also makes the argument for overspenders to cut down on mindless purchases (or “gazingus pins,” as the authors term them) for a fascinating reason: it reminds us of how many hours we have to work to get something we don’t use.

“Over time, not spending actually makes you feel better; not buying a gazingus pin now becomes a source of fulfillment because you’ve determined that gazingus pins don’t provide you fulfillment,” they write.

The wording can come across as a little too sanctimonious at times, which could easily insult the reader who is living paycheck to paycheck. Despite this, “Your Money or Your Life” continually urges readers throughout its pages, “no shame, no blame” – even if the exercises make you discover you spend more than you earn.

While the book emphasizes in passing that technology can assist readers in managing their money in today’s world, it doesn’t go into great detail. There are a plethora of apps available these days that can automate aspects of your finances or put a number on your gazingus pin – Ally Bank, for example, allows consumers to ask Amazon Alexa how many hours of work equals the item they want to purchase. If you’re looking for an app that can help you save money or pay off debt, you’ll have to search elsewhere.

Final thoughts: a four-out-of-five rating

You might feel like you need a job that doesn’t take up so many of your hours after reading “Your Money or Your Life.” It’s an existential conundrum. You might never look at buying indulgences the same way again — those gazingus pins might start to feel like cubicle traps.

The reminder that life is brief and our time is valuable is the book’s most enduring theme for me. In the quick reference, the writers write, “You are a business.” Meaning, we’re all in the business of getting the most satisfaction out of each hour of life energy invested.


Have you read this book, Your Money or Your Life, yet? If not, you can get it here!

If you have read this book, Your Money or Your Life, what did you think of it? Did you complete all the 9 steps mentioned in the book?

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Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin
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2 thoughts on “Book Review: Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin

  1. I love this book! I’ve personally read Your Money or Your Life multiple times over the years! It’s great to hear feedback from other people who have also read this book. Awesome review! Keep it up and please continue to share content like this!

    1. Hi Kristen, thanks for joining in on the converstation! I really like this book too! I first read ‘Your Money or Your Life’ (the 2008 publishing year edition of the book) back in 2015. I purchased the updated version (‘Your Money or Your Life’ was updated and revised in 2018) a few months ago, and read the book once again last month. My favorite lesson (and reminder) that the book teaches and helps it’s readers understand is that “Money = Life’s Energy”.

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