YMOYL: Interlude: What We've Done So Far

In this week's installment of our in-depth review of Your Money Or Your Life, we're going to take a quick look back. We may have read only four chapters and 136 pages, but believe it or not, we've covered a ton of ground.

At this point, I wonder if readers see the same thing I see: this innocent little book is way sneakier than it appears.

Here's how it ropes you in. First, in the Prologue, it asks all sorts of provocative questions about modern consumerist life. Of course, anybody picking up the book will drawn in by that. Then, in Chapter 1, the book has you do the easy task of calculating your lifetime income--a sneakily encouraging exercise that shows readers they've actually earned quite a bit more money than they thought.

Next, in Chapter 2, you do another easy and seemingly innocent task: calculating your true hourly wage. The thing is, once you arrive at your number, you have little choice but to accept that your workaday life--in terms of both money and time--is far more costly than you thought.

What's next? In the second half of Chapter 2, you're assigned the job of tracking every penny you spend. This is the first exercise that sounds suspiciously like real work, and some readers may bump up against internal resistance (or even an intransigent spouse) at this point. But in reality, this step is just as easy as any of the others. Fast forward a few weeks, and you've tracked a month's worth of expenses before you know what hit you.

Hmmm. Now that all your spending information is sitting right there in front of you, it's no big deal to categorize it and organize it a little, right? Well, that's Chapter 3. And then, you take just one more teensy incremental step in Chapter 4 and put a few plus signs and minus signs next to your categories. Easy.

It was at this exact point of the book that Laura and I realized we'd been back-doored into a state of higher financial consciousness. In four chapters and a few simple exercises, this book literally vaporizes your ignorance about what's happening with your money. Four chapters.

Even more importantly, you're now entirely steeped in both the language and the perceptual framework of YMOYL. The dumb things that you used to waste money on are now "gazingus pins." Money isn't money anymore: it's now "life energy." You're now carefully measuring your expenses--and more importantly, objectively considering the value those expenses bring you.

By the time you've hit Chapter 4, you've had several irreversible flashes of financial insight. You simply can't go back. Whether you intended it or not, you now have a sophisticated awareness about your spending and your income--and how both fit in with your values.

Sometimes I think about what this book helps readers do in a mere 136 pages and I simply can't believe it.

One final thought: People pay thousands of dollars for debt counseling, financial consulting, therapy, classes and workshops to learn the things that you now know. And you're not even halfway through the book. Well done.

Next Week: Chapter 5: Your Wall Chart

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