Updated on 10.19.07

Your Money or Your Life: Additional Thoughts On Cutting Spending

Trent Hamm

YMOYLThis is the nineteenth part of The Simple Dollar Book Club reading of Your Money or Your Life. Want to know more?

Prosperity and the Planet
Much of this section focuses on the idea that frugality is good for the environment, too. Most frugal ideas boil down to buying less and reducing your costs, and these things not only have a strong impact on your wallet, they have a positive impact on the environment, as well. This is directly obvious when you look at things like reducing home energy use, but it really stretches into almost all aspects of frugality. Buying a reliable appliance, for example, means that there’s a lot less expense and energy wasted in actually recycling the appliances, thus providing an environmental benefit (on top of the reduced headaches).

These sections pop up throughout the book, for better or for worse. This is pretty much the only personal finance book that has a significant environmentalist theme, which does make it stand out from the crowd. However, the real value I find in this book is in the distinct and strong perspective it offers on personal finance. Even though on a lot of levels I agree with the environmentalist-themed material, it often comes off as a distraction from the message to me. I know that for some readers the message will come across very strongly and their perspectives will be altered (I can think of one person in particular who would really click with this), but for many readers I think it comes off a little bit strong.

Part of me would like to read a book like Your Money or Your Life without the environmentalism or the New Age-type stuff – just the valuable personal finance insights.

1,001 Sure Ways to Save Money
Your Money or Your Life estimates that during a given year, a person will have approximately 1,001 notable expenditures of money – a number that’s surprisingly accurate if you look at it in the sense of about three expenditures a day. So how does that become 1,001 ways to spend money? Basically, every time you spend money, there’s some way that you could spend less and approximate the same result. The only ingredient that’s missing from the complete answer is creativity.

1,000,001 Sure Ways To Save Money
Over the next twelve days, you’ll have approximately 1,000,001 thoughts. Many of those thoughts are quick evaluations of the good or the bad of a person, place, thing, or idea, and a surprisingly large number of them have financial consequences. Controlling the thoughts that have negative financial consequences (susceptibility to ads, for example) and encouraging the ones that have positive consequences (doing it yourself, for example) is bound to, as a whole, have positive financial results. I usually find it very useful to simply minmize the possibility that negative financial thoughts will find their way to me – I avoid ads as much as I can, and I’m starting to strongly avoid shopping as well (particularly Williams Sonoma, which basically vacuums the cash out of my pocket.

Tomorrow, we’ll move onto the seventh chapter, “For Love or Money: Valuing Life Energy – Work and Income,” and stick with it until the subheading “The Stunning Implications of Redefining Work.” This section appears on pages 219 through 231 in my paperback version of the book.

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  1. sunny says:

    I have to disagree on the environmentalism as a distraction, I find it an incentive. I appreciate how timeless the information on being kind to the Earth is. Perhaps if more of us would have paid attention in the 70s and 80s the polar bears would have ice to live on. Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without is frugal, smart and good for the planet.

  2. lorax says:

    These passages in the book are just as preachy as much of the environmental movement. The logic is good, it’s just not the right presentation. Only a perfect delivery will pull it off (Al Gore – maybe?).

    It doesn’t have to be that way. “The Undercover Economist” is a great book about economics, but has an environmentalist undertone. it is definitely not preachy – maybe irreverent.

    Or, for macro economics from an environmental perspective, something like http://www.thebreakthrough.org/images/Death_of_Environmentalism.pdf is a must read.

    Personally, I find the new-age cruft even harder to wade though.

  3. Minimum Wage says:

    Every time I pay rent, there’s some way I could spend less and approximate the same result?

    HAHAHAHA, who writes this stuff?

  4. Betty Ann says:

    The environment aspect is just about Maturity…. think of what too much consuming does to OUR AIR; water; etc..

    It does not matter if you can even afford it; it is still too much stuff .. endlessly.

    I stopped sending Christmas card; because I would write a long message in each and no one else does it.. they just quickly sign their names.. and all that paper wasted each year.. to a card with a sign name.. no written message..

    and where to store all these cards..made no sense.

    Little things add up to preserve the environment.. I love this book ..read it twice..

    i wish I was even more environmentally doing the right thing. i dont’ drive.. but I can’t afford solar panes on my house etc..

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