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Subject:  Re: Your Money or Your Life Date:  7/26/2000  1:00 AM
Author:  retin10 Number:  13759 of 876031

for those of you who have read the book. The exercises strike me as a major time sink. I'm wondering how many of you did them, and what your impressions were.

I've worked my way through some of the steps as follows:

1) Total Lifetime Earnings: This was pretty easy for me, as I kept all my W2's way back to when I was sixteen years old and worked part time at Jack-in-the-Box! It was interesting to see where I came from ($1.75 an hour back then), how much I made now and what I had to show for it (not much).

2) Compute Your Real Hourly Wage: Because I don't have a long commute and can dress casually, etc. my real hourly wage is close to what I earn. But for some, especially a parent wanting to stay at home with the kids, this step is a real eye opener. It can actually cost a lot of money to work (clothing, transportation, meals, taxes on second income,child care expense, etc).

3) Keeping track of every cent that comes into and goes out of your life: I have been doing this for 3 years now and it has become such a habit that it is almost second nature. It's very interesting to see how you spend your money. It also begins to make you conscious of things you may not have been aware of before. For example, I used to spend a lot of money buying junk food from the vending machines at work. Once I saw the pattern, I had to ask myself why am I doing this? What I finally realized was that I was eating out of boredom and the habit gave me a "legitimate" excuse to get out of the chair, go visit the machines and goof off for a few minutes. Now, I give myself permission to go for a walk when I need to without a stop at the machines. I also realized, through tracking expenses, that I was a book buying junkie. Now I get my fix at the library.

4) The Wall Chart: This is really neat because it makes visible your income, expenses and capital. If you can keep the expense line below the income line, it feels great. It may be psychological, but looking at the wall chart, making plans, thinking about the future has helped to form new habits. I don't like to see the expense line cross the income line and now I'm more inclined to make sure it doesn't.

I don't ask the questions about my spending (i.e., is this expenditure in alignment with my values, etc.) as suggested in the book but I do begin to see patterns and then try to determine if there needs to be a change. Overall, I think I did benefit from going through these steps.

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