Your Money or Your Life
June 13, 2011
Charlie and I are unsure about what the future holds. We don’t know what’s next for us professionally. Will he work for another Silicon Valley firm? Will he venture out on his own as an independent consultant? Will we start a company together? So much is unknown for us. Over the last year or so, we’ve been trying to create white space in our lives to make room for what’s next. We’ve significantly reduced the amount of possessions we own. We’ve sold our house. We’ve tried to bring our budget in line with what we value. While there’s a ton that we don’t know, we both agree that cutting expenses as much as possible is the next step on our path. As we cut our expenses, it opens up possibilities. If you can live on less, then you don’t have to make as much money. If you don’t have to make as much money, it leaves more room to make a living in a way that feeds the soul.
That’s what we want. We want to make a living in a way that aligns with our values. We want to make a living in a way that brings about social and economic justice.
Joe Dominguez, one of the authors of Your Money or Your Life, is one of the grandfathers if not the grandfather of the voluntary frugality movement. What is voluntary frugality? You could say that it’s being frugal because you want to, not because you have to. People adopt this mode of living for so many reasons. Getting out of debt. Saving for a house. Saving for a home improvement, or college education. Cutting expenses so that one spouse can stay at home with children. Retiring early. In Dominguez’s book, he talks about the concept of enough. Up to a certain level, money does bring more happiness and satisfaction. Money provides the ability to buy things like food, shelter and clothing- which do make us happier. Not having those necessities is miserable. At some point, with an increasing income, you reach a point of diminishing returns. Long hours at the office. Canceled or interrupted vacations and holidays. Long hours away from family- maybe with a job that doesn’t align with your values.
Dominguez talks about work as “life energy” that you spend. It’s true. When you spend ten hours a day at the office away from your family, it’s time that you can’t get back. That may be absolutely fine. It may be work that you love and that you feel good about. For our family, we’re ready to make some trade offs. We’re ready to live on less to have Charlie around more. We’ll be celebrating my son Charlie’s graduation from high school ten years from right now. That’s sobering for us. This is our time to pour into our children- if my husband misses it, we can’t get it back.
There is a lot to Dominguez’s book. I’m giving you a snapshot. He has a whole pathway that you take to pay off debt and save. It will be interesting to see what we learn as we lean into learning about voluntary frugality. You know I’m a nerd- I love geeking out with whatever I’m interested in. Charlie and I both have this tendency to hyper focus. That being said, I’m excited about living on less and changing our lives so that my husband can be with us more. I’ll keep you posted. I have lots of thrifty (and fun in a geeky sort of way) tips to share.