Many tens of thousands of people have changed their lives in small and large ways using the tools featured in Your Money or Your Life. Phrases like ‘Money is life's energy’ and ‘No shame no blame’ and ‘Gazingus Pin’ have entered the culture. Sublime extracts 10 tips from this pioneering and visionary best seller to help you transform your relationship with money and achieve financial independence
1. Don’t shop
If you don’t go shopping, you won’t spend money. Of course, if you really need something from the store, go and buy it. But don’t just go shopping. About 53 per cent of groceries and 47 per cent of hardware store purchases are ‘spur of the moment’. So don’t go shopping. And while you are at it, stay away from advertising that whets your appetite for stuff you don’t want.
2. Live within your means
To live within your means is to buy only what you can prudently afford, to avoid debts unless you have an assurance that you will be able to pay it promptly and always to have something put away for a rainy day. It was quite a fashionable way to live a couple of short generations ago.
3. Take care of what you have
There is one thing we all have we want to last a long time: our bodies. Simple attention to the proven preventive practices will save you lots of money. Flossing and brushing your teeth, for example, could save thousands in dental bills. Extend this principal to all your possessions. Regular oil changes are known to extend the life of your car. Cleaning your tools extends their life: how many hair dryers and vacuum cleaners have choked to death on hair balls? Many of us have lived with excess for so many years that in no longer occurs to us to maintain what we have.
4. Wear it out
What’s the last item you actually wore out? If it weren’t for the fashion industry (and boredom) we could all enjoy the same basic wardrobe for years. Survey your possessions. Are you simply upgrading or duplicating last year’s electronic equipment, furniture, kitchenware, carpeting and linens, or are you truly wearing them out? Think how much money you would save if you simply decided to use things for even 20 per cent longer.
5. Do it yourself
Can you fix a plumbing leak? Do your taxes? Make your own gifts? Change the tire on your bicycle? Bake a cake from scratch? Build a bookshelf? Refinish Furniture? Plant a garden? Cut your family’s hair? Form your own non-profit corporation? It used to be that we learned basic life skills from our parents in the process of growing up. Then the industrial revolution put our parents in factories and after the passing of child labour and mandatory education laws, put us in schools. Next, our grandparents were put in retirement homes, removing the people who traditionally taught life skills to the children while the parents worked.
Every bit of your energy invested in solving these breakdowns not only teaches you something you need to know for the next time, but also helps to prevent mistakes and reduces the bill.
6. Anticipate your needs
Forethought in purchasing can bring tremendous savings. With enough lead time, you will inevitably see the items you need go on sale by the time you need them – at 20 to 50 per cent under the usual price. Anticipating your needs also eliminates one of the biggest threats to your frugality: impulse buying. If you haven’t anticipated needing something when you leave your house at 3:05, chances are you don’t need it at 3:10 when you’re standing at the ‘gazingus-pin’ counter at the corner store.
7. Research value, quality, durability and multiple use
Research your purchases. Websites and publications give excellent evaluations and comparisons of almost everything you may buy – and they can be fun just to read. Decide what features are most important to you. Don’t just be a bargain junkie and automatically buy the cheapest item available. Durability might be critical for something you plan to use daily for twenty years.
8. Get it for less
If you’ve spent any time in the marketplace or online, you know you can pay a lot of different prices for the same item. Things don’t cost what they cost. They cost what you pay. The more educated you are about the product and the more specific you can be about the exact make or model you want, the more successful your bargain-hunting will be. In some places you can ask for discounts for paying cash. You can ask for discount for less-than-perfect items. You can ask for the sale price even if the sale begins tomorrow or end yesterday. You can ask for further discount on items already marked down. You can ask for discount anywhere, anytime. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Re-examine your attitudes about buying used items.
9. Meet your needs differently
The principal of substitution says that there are hundreds if not thousands of ways to meet a need. Traditional economics would have you believe that more, better or different stuff can satisfy almost any need and in just a credit card swipe away. But who says frugal pleasures are less pleasurable because they are less pricey? For example, what’s the best way to lift your spirits? An antidepressant? Running? Cognitive therapy? A change of scenery? Going to a funny movie? Helping someone in a worse pickle? Retail therapy? Which works best for you? Do you just have one strategy or many different ones? When you feel depleted, where do you turn? Rest? Exercise? Caffeine? Therapy (retail or talk)? TV? In other words, there’s a difference between needs and strategies we use to ‘satisfy’ those needs. As Manfred Max-Neef points out, most of our needs are not material! Substitution says, ‘When you feel a desire to shop, take time to trace it back to the need and ask if creativity rather than consumption might best fill it’.
10. Follow the nine steps of this program
The steps of this program have been successfully followed by hundreds of thousands of people. These peoples have found that doing all the steps leads to a transformed experience of money and the material world. It’s the transformation, no the tips, that saves them money. Mild shopping addictions evaporate. Self-denial and self-indulgence both yield to self-awareness, which ends up being a much bigger pleasure. You can use this program as a series of tips or advice, or you can let it work it magic by doing the steps. They are a whole-system approach to money and stuff that changes your habits by changing your way of seeing. All the steps matter. They synergize to spur you on.