Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence: By Vicki Robin

The alarm goes off at 7:00 in the morning. Check phone. Shower. Dress in a professional uniform. Breakfast, if there’s time for it. Hop in the car and prepare for rush hour. Work from 9–5. Deal with the boss. Deal with a seemingly endless stream of emails. Deal with the intern to who you’re trying to delegate work, but always end up doing it yourself. Hide mistakes, act busy, smile when you are handed near-impossible deadlines, argue with your consciousness but agree with your boss, watch the clock, smile again. 5 o’clock. Back to your car for the evening commute. Home again. Try to act human with your partner. Cook. Eat. Watch an episode on Netflix. Or two — after all, you’ve had a rough day. Answer one last e-mail and then, finally, bedtime. Eight hours of sacred oblivion, if you’re lucky. Do you recognize yourself? People living this life are not making a living, If someone points a gun to your head and asks, “Your money or your life?” you know that you’d instantly give up your wallet. Yet, This is how many people live. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, they are valuing their money higher than their life. This summary will teach you to think differently about money, which in turn will lead to a point where you no longer must choose. So the next time someone asks you: “Your money or your life?!”, you’ll be able to say “I’ll take both, thank you”.

#1: DECIDE YOUR OWN ENOUGH

This is the starting point. Enough is not too much, not too little, but just right. If you don’t learn about yourself enough, you’ll never be satisfied because more is a battle with an endless horizon. An interesting experiment made in the 1980s supports this theory. Participants from every income bracket were asked to rate their happiness on one to five scales. Moreover, they were asked about how much money would make them happy. The results? There was no significant difference between the top and bottom earnest on the happiness scale. Additionally, they all had similar answers to how much money would make them happy. They all started: “50% more than what I earned today” Researchers, who have investigated the subject of money versus happiness have concluded that beyond a certain level of sufficiency more money does not equal more happiness. Currently, this level is believed to be around $75,000 a year. Consider the so-called “Fulfillment Curve”.

The graph correlates money spent to the fulfillment we feel from it. Before survival is secured, every penny seems to be shooting our satisfaction and fulfillment through the roof. Even when adding comfort and a few luxuries, fulfillment is increasing. It is important to notice when the curve starts to level out though. If you have ten suits, but you rarely use any of them, you are probably enjoying shopping more than having and using them. Most likely, you have ended up in the negative slope of the money fulfillment equation, where each additional new purchase only adds distress and distraction rather than satisfaction. It’s important to notice when this starts to happen! At the top of the curve is the point of “Enough”, and even though the amount of money that must be spent before reaching it differs from person to person, everyone has such a point. Remember that most of our needs up to a certain port can’t be filled by new toys. People don’t need new Lamborghinis. They need respect. They don’t need a wardrobe filled with clothes from Dior, Gucci, and Prada. They need to feel attractive. Neither do they need the most recent entertainment system, they need something worthwhile to do with their time.

#2: COMPARE YOUR LIFETIME INCOME TO YOUR NET WORTH.

It’s time to make peace with the past. This exercise isn’t about increasing your ego or depleting your confidence. It’s about reviewing your earnings and spending habits of the past. Just remember no shame and no blame. There are two parts:

01. Find out how much you’ve earned in total. This might seem like a Herculean task, I know, but there are a few tricks to make it simpler than it seems at a glance.

A. Get online records from your bank.

B. Review your old resume.

C. Apply for a Social Security Statement from the Social Security Administration, if you are an American.

02. Calculate your net worth. Your net worth is simply the sum of liquid and fixed assets minus your debt. Liquid assets could be — Cash, money in savings accounts, bonds, stocks, mutual or index funds. Fixed assets are major possessions such as your house car or boat, but let’s not forget about electronics, furniture, wardrobe, jewelry, and the items you store in the attic. Remember to use the current market values for all assets and loans. This means what you can sell or pay them back for today.

Why should you do this? Because it’s a great way of reassessing your prior financial choices. Many persons live their financial lives without direction or consciousness. They are like someone driving around without a destination, spinning their wheels and burning gas, but they’re not getting anywhere! This step gives you the opportunity to take conscious decisions about the future of your financial situation. Maybe you realize that you haven’t got too much to show for in assets compared to your lifetime earnings. Good! Then use this as a motivation for turning that trend around. Or, on the other hand, maybe you realize that you have enough assets so that if you distribute them correctly, you can be financially independent immediately. Even better!

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