Many of you will remember Jack Benny, the deadpan comedian. Jack was famous for acting out the story of a holdup. He was robbed at gunpoint and the thief was not joking as he uttered: “Your money or your life!”. Jack would look at the camera in his inimitable style, sigh and put his right hand to his face. When the thief showed impatience at his lack of response, he nudged him with the barrel of the gun, and asked: “Well?”. Jack replied: “I’m thinking, I’m thinking”. Humor aside, I think most of us would consider this an easy decision.
Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money is also the title of a best-selling book by Vicki Robin, which has been around for some time now. Initially published in the early ’90s, it has received almost cult-like attention recently from millennials, who are drawn to the FIRE mantra she espouses. FIRE stands for Financial Independence Retire Early. It certainly is a worthy goal and some of her advice, particularly as it relates to being uber-conscious of the spending side of the equation, resonates with me as it is something I preach to my clients.
So, I don’t want to bash this book, or the cottage industry the authors have created around its philosophy. The only issue I see is the same one that plagues other faddish books before them, such as Rich Dad, Poor Dad, or the Suze Orman series: they are generic, to the extreme of cookie-cutter, formulaic conclusions that purport to organize its readership neatly into unquestioning obeyance of truths and laws that don’t always apply. We know one size does NOT fit all.
I appreciate the fact that these kinds of books give people hope, however, what I have discovered throughout my journey is the reality that financial independence requires a lot of hard work. You have to trust your instincts and learn from your mistakes. It also helps to have a plan and a team of experts behind you.