Several years ago, my wife and I decided to form a group using the Your Money or Your Life program. We met monthly for nine times, applying one of the nine steps each time, and sharing our experiences with each other.
It is another example of a well designed program that uses awareness as its main emphasis.
Here is the essence of it: Track your income and expenses. Evaluate whether the income/expenses in each category (which you set yourself) was worth the life energy spent, whether it is aligned with your values (for us, health, social justice, sustainability), and whether you would spend more or less in each category if you didn’t have to work for a living (frees your mind to look at it more clearly).
By bringing the money/life energy flow into awareness each month, it brings about a natural change in daily life. I remember how much money went into coffee shop bagels last month, and decide to eat before leaving the house. I see a book I would like to read in a bookstore, and decide to get it from the library instead. I notice that I can easily get just about all my clothes second hand, so continue doing that. I want to buy organic and local food as much as possible, so go to stores that makes it easy to do so. I realize how right it feels to donate money or support a young monk, so decide to continue doing that or do more of it.
And through that process, I notice more clearly when I try to meet certain needs through consumption when those needs are better met other ways. My needs may be for comfort, self esteem or approval, and I can find non-consumption ways to meet those, for instance in rewarding relationships with others.
The program helped us reduce expenses, align our buying habits with our values, and spend our time, energy and money in ways that are more meaningful and rewarding to us.
And it is the last two that are maybe most important. The sense that we live with a little more integrity. A little more aligned with how we would like to live. Moving in the direction of living more sustainably and with future generations in mind. And spending our time in ways that are more rewarding. We have learned to live well within our means, and find ways to meet our needs in ways that costs little or no money.
Of course, this is all directional, and it all changes with changing situations. Which is why we decided to take up this program again as a refresher, and also as a way to introduce more people to it.
And yes, it is called Your Money *or* Your Life, but really, it is Your Money *and* Your Life. You get to keep both. (But it is neccesary to do all nine steps of the program, and stay with it for a while, for the effects to take place. It is not sufficient to just read the book or do parts of it.)