March 25th, 2004


Your Money or Your Life

Issue # 166 - February/March 1998

Your Money or Your Life

Vicki Robin speaks with Betsey Model on the principles of frugality

As we type this story, the high-pitched and strained voices of newsmen and women on the radio are beginning to betray a less than journalistic anxiety in the wake of a panic selling session on Wall Street. The market has plummeted five hundred points in a single day and the paper mansions and yachts built in the bull market of the past year are blowing in the wind.

After the financial boom and bust of the '80s, the catch-phrase on many a Mercedes bumper-sticker was "The One Who Dies With the Most Toys Wins." It's incongruous that, just a few years later, one of the fastest selling how-to books on the New York Times bestseller list was not about how to get ahead, get more money, get a job, or get an image. It was about how to get by on less ...less spending, less negative environmental impact, and less dependence on the government or corporate America for financial security.

In 1992, former Wall Street financial analyst Joe Dominguez and his partner, Vicki Robin, published Your Money or Your Life, a national bestseller that addressed the question "Is this all there is?" Through a nine-step program, Dominguez and Robin showed readers how to live well on less, get out of debt and, most importantly, develop savings. Now published in four languages and distributed around the world, the book—and its authors—are often credited with kicking off the "voluntary simplicity" movement. Robin, with her late partner Joe Dominguez, formed the Seattle-based nonprofit New Road Map Foundation, traveled the country on speaking engagements, and made over 400 media appearances encouraging consumers to stop consuming. Her philosophy is one many MOTHER readers have embraced most of their lives. But many more write us each month asking for concrete advice on how to make their lives simpler and more fulfilling. Robin's work has been to take these principles out of some idealistic realm of abstract thinking and teach people step-by-step how to move away from a consumer existence.

Attractive, articulate, and neatly dressed, Robin, 52, looks and sounds more like a $50,000 executive recruiter than the woman once dubbed the "prophet of consumption-downsizers" by the New York Times. She's a dynamic speaker and a persuasive voice on the subject of consumerism's impact on our quality of life and the life of our planet. A cum laude graduate of Brown University, Ms. Robin is a member of the Task Force on Population and Consumption on the President's Council on Sustainable Development, a founding member and Trustee of Sustainable Seattle, and author of a series of booklets including "All Consuming Passion: Waking Up From the American Dream" and "How Earth Friendly Are You? A Lifestyle Assessment Questionnaire."

Collapse )

Build a portable micro-house

Issue # 168 - June/July 1998

Country Skills

The Rustic "Temporary" Microhouse
Build a portable, moveable, and versatile little home.
By John Vivian


The foundations of the first true American microhouse—and of the philosophy that changed society's attitude toward personal freedom and man's relationship with Nature—were laid "near the end of March, 1845," when Henry David Thoreau, a Harvard dropout from Concord, Massachusetts, borrowed an ax, walked a mile and a half to Walden Pond, and began to build a ten-by-fifteen-foot one-room cabin of hand-hewn logs and recycled shanty boards fastened with salvaged nails and wooden pegs. In an era when a laborer earned a dollar a day, his total cash outlay for the house came to $28.12. He lived there for more than two years and from the experience wrote a book called Walden, which changed my life and the lives of many others. It can change yours as well.

Collapse )