“We moderns meet most of our needs, wants and desires through money. We buy everything from hope to happiness. We no longer live life, we consume it.”

“Your Money or Your Life,” by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez, is a 1992 nine-step ode to simplification, to stepping off the treadmill, to checking out of the rat race. “Your Money or Your Life” is a manifesto to the idea that less can be more, that money is not the end-all, be-all of life. One of its key concepts is that since money is something we choose to trade for our “life energy,” we should make sure that we are getting a good deal for it, that we are getting the life we want.

A short summary of the nine steps to simplifying your life:

* STEP 1: Add up all the money you have made in your life, balance that against what you have to show (in the form of assets of some type) for it.

* STEP 2: Given that money is something we choose to trade for our life energy, determine how much money you truly get for doing your job, including what you must spend for commuting, clothing, meals at work, etc. Start to track every penny that you earn and spend, record the “value” you receive for your expenditures. Was it worth the life energy you gave up?

* STEP 3: Tabulate all your expenses into categories, add them up and convert them into hours of life energy.

* STEP 4: Determine the extent to which all those expenses provided fulfillment. Are they in alignment with your life’s purpose? How would they change if you did not have to work for a living?

* STEP 5: Create and maintain a chart of all your monthly income and expenses, put it where you see it daily.

* STEP 6: Practice frugality! Learn how to save money by not spending money, not trying to impress other people. Not just not going shopping, living within your means. Taking care of what you have, wearing things out. Doing more things yourself, anticipating your needs. Researching value, quality, durability, and multiple use of things ahead of time. Getting things for less, buying used.

* STEP 7: Search out ways to increase your income by valuing the life energy you put into your job, and exchanging it for the highest pay consistent with your health and integrity.

* STEP 8: As you seek to lower your needs and financial requirements, as you realize you don’t need a lot of money to live well and be truly happy, start investing for income and security, seeking that magical crossover point where you can live off your investment income. The authors suggest that volunteering/giving back is the best way to find fulfillment in your life.

* STEP 9: Become a knowledgeable and sophisticated long-term investor, so that you can manage your finances for a safe, steady, and sufficient income for the balance of your life.

I found the concepts and ideas in “Your Money or Your Life” refreshing and thought provoking, a welcome counterpoint to the daily onslaught of messages to consume, consume, consume in order to be happy, content, fulfilled.

Closing quote: “Financial independence is being free of the fog, fear and fanaticism so many of us feel about money.”