Vicki Robin

Author Archive

Saving for a rainy day – lessons from our ancestors

In Uncategorized on October 8, 2010 at 11:37 AM

A friend loaned me her parent’s budget books, one from 1940, one from 1974. They are a generation apart and reflect both simpler times and the evolution of our relationship with money to the confusing or even desperate situation we are in today.

Joe Dominguez was born two years before the first book, and raised with those values of thrift and savings. Most months this family saved 10%-20% of their income. “If you know how to spend less than you earn, you have the key to success” is the quote from Ben Franklin at the top of one page. By 1974 the family spent at or more than their income 5 months of the year, but their savings rate was still nearly 5%. Until this Recession spooked us into saving again (and we are being shamed for doing so – spend! Is still the economy’s message), our savings rate was negative, and most households carried debt.

Joe used to say it was pitiful that we needed to teach the idea that if you spend less than you earn you develop savings that can eventually allow you to stop working for money. “Ben Franklin would be rolling over in his grave” was his frequent head shaking comment when people would call his ideas radical.


Here are some pages from these budget books.


Operating expenses categories



Advancement and Recreation


Can we go back to simpler times? I think we have no choice but to learn from what generations before knew – though we’ll do so in our liberated and interconnected and computer mediated style. I also think this is good news.




Not only will more of us be financially secure, more will be empowered by managing their lives with thrift.




We’ll relearn what was called “home production” (remember shop and Home Ec) because we’ll realize how much less exposure to a fickle economy we have when we can do for ourselves. “It is not so hard to earn money as to spend it wisely” the Budget Book reminds us. “Men (sic) know not how great a revenue Economy is” Franklin is quoted on another page. (I just have to comment … The book is called “Housewife’s Daily Recording Expense Book” but men are credited with thrift. We have come a long way, baby.)

The categories themselves say a lot about life then – and perhaps in the future. There is no Walmart or Safeway. There are the butcher, the baker, the milkman, the green grocer.

The savings included Thrift Clubs. Putting away a bit each month.

Operating Expenses included ice! And the tailor. That would be a growth industry of the future.

So in all, we can meditate on these pictures as a way to meditate on balance and security in our lives. And then, as we suggest in Your Money or Your Life in our quaint way, track, categorize and evaluate out expenses… and save save save for with Climate Change there may be more rainy days in our future.

Last call for Journey to the Heart of Brazil

In Uncategorized on September 30, 2010 at 11:45 AM

Everyone says this Journey to the Heart of Brazil tucked right between Thanksgiving and Christmas is amazing – even Brazilians. You can come, but you need to decide now. You need 6-8 weeks to get your passports, tickets and visas.

Given the economy, some people who wanted to come now can’t, so we still have openings! Normally I’m a pillar of prudence, but for this trip I recommend releasing some resource for truly a trip of a lifetime. I have been transformed – softened, opened, loved, enlightened – through my visits to Brazil. She is a teacher and lover. I return home so satisfied that friends asked to come with me. Friends, this is the trip I made for you!

Our tour guides, the Aoka team, say it’s a breakthrough trip in their already lush, educational eco-tours. We are combining visits to ecological preserves  with meeting with courageous and innovative social change leaders with a deep spiritual dive with Susan Andrews, American born, Brazilian souled beloved spiritual teacher.

We’ll be tourists with time at the beach, on a cruise around Ilha Bela and seeing the sites in Paraty and Rio. We’ll also be learners – every day packed with encounters with people and nature and issues so that we’ll be inspired and disturbed and motivated to change. Every day, too, our group will circle up to share our days and insights so that we are a community of learners, not just a bunch of tourists. The trip will be life-changing, I promise.

We have pared down costs as far as we can. If you can’t afford the minimum cost, please be in touch with Daniel Contrucci <>.

If you’ve been thinking about this – now is the time to decide. I really hope you will come. I want to share “my” Brazil with you. You have a week to take the plunge.

For richer and poorer – new stats on the wealth gap

In Uncategorized on September 23, 2010 at 11:29 PM

A story on NPR this morning on the growing gap between the wealthy and the rest of us in the United States, equaled only by the gap in the 1920’s.

The 400 people on Forbes magazine’s list of the richest Americans saw their combined net worth climb 8 percent this year. The good news for the wealthy comes as the poverty rate has reached a 15-year high and unemployment remains stuck near 10 percent.

“They” say the recession ended last August. This says we are headed deeper into an economic Bermuda Triangle. What do you think? What data makes sense to you? What choices are you making – that you are willing to tell blog readers?

Why Brazil, Round Two

In Uncategorized on September 23, 2010 at 10:19 AM

I wonder if any of you feel as one respondent did to my e-invitation to join me on the Journey to the Heart of Brazil.

She said, “And what is the footprint of flying folks to this event and how does the cost fit with YMOYL?  Seems you’ve come a long way Vicki…  All the best and I won’t be joining you on this one.

Here’s my answer – and it may help you decide if you are wavering. We need at least 10 people by October 15 to make it a go. We’re not there yet, and the deadline is fast approaching. Read the rest of this entry »

Reruns – but still good

In Uncategorized on September 21, 2010 at 10:47 PM

I’ve been on the Kathleen Show several times and just now they chose to rebroadcast. Here’s the link they sent me:

I recall the interviews – Kathleen was one of the best prepared and most personal – really digging in to the ideas.

Brazil Happiness and Change

In Uncategorized on September 16, 2010 at 6:18 AM

Travel changes you, opens our souls as well as our minds. We change. The trip I am leading to Brazil at the end of November will do that, in part by you seeing how social change happens in that culture.

I first went to Brazil in 2001 for the First World Social Forum. The theme was: Another World is Possible. The speakers and participants were dead serious about how we were killing all that is beautiful and alive in this world.

The vibe in the halls and the streets as we marched, 25,000 strong, to the final talk by (I believe) Arundhati Roy, was JOY. Laughing, dancing and hugging were not considered inappropriate, given the gravity of the circumstances. They were “the possible other world”.

I was stunned. And swept up. And I have never stopped loving that feeling I get when I step off the plane in Sao Paulo. Something soft and sensual while also everyone being “about their business.”

You can have that experience to, and it will light up your work for change – in yourself and in the world. That’s why the eco-tourist company Aoka and I are inviting you to come to the warmth of Brazil in the dark of the year, and the dark of these times.

Click this link to find out more. Watch what happens in your body when you read through the day by day description of what we will do. Don’t just consult that worry wart, your mind.

I hope you will come. If you want to, time is short. You need to commit by October 15.

Transforming your relationship with food

In Uncategorized on September 15, 2010 at 7:51 AM

Hey, I thought this was a money blog. Transforming your relationship with money. Not food.

I’m discovering with my September 10 mile diet that truly the same principles and practices for looking at money apply to food. By only eating what can produced within 10 miles of my home I am discovering a lot about my relationship with food.

I am seeing my emotional relationship – the feelings and desires that drive me this way and that. To nuts and after 9 PM eating. That would be like people’s money and stuff addictions. The visits to the mall to see what you might want rather than get what you want. To substitute shoes (or chocolate) for love. Read the rest of this entry »

Two wow’s from the NY Times

In Uncategorized on September 13, 2010 at 9:03 AM

Wow one: The NY Times reported bankers using the D word. Depression.

Wow two: The NY Times is now blogging about frugality.

Wow one: On September 12 the NY Times used the “D” word. Depression. Not downturn. Not recession. Not banking crisis. Depression. They reported that:
Top central bankers and bank regulators agreed Sunday in Basel, Switzerland, on far-reaching new rules for the global banking industry that are designed to avert future financial disasters…of the kind that nearly plunged the world into depression in late 2008 depression.

Political leaders have been wary of the D word, not wanting to panic people. Now they can use it because our heroic politicians “averted” it. Hmmm. Really?

Wow two: The NYTimes has gotten into the frugality business. I hope this blog will be a reliable source for those kinds of daily financial decisions that bedevil us.

What should I do with my money now?

In Uncategorized on September 12, 2010 at 8:13 PM

I invited Mark Zaifman and Monique Tilford to join me for a teleclass by this name, knowing this question is on everyone’s minds. While Mark gave financial investment advice, I tended to give more lifestyle advice – examining assumptions about “just gotta have it”, meeting needs differently (like taking your kids to free events rather than expensive ones), re-skilling. If money is indeed “life energy”, then investing time in activities that will bring you a big return in security makes sense – perhaps as much sense as investing in mutual funds. Okay okay, apples and oranges, but listen to what I wrote a friend when she asked:

Hi. any advice about what to do with a small inheritance? especially since the people involved are not FI right now but would like to be?

Read on… and tell me what YOU would advise… Read the rest of this entry »

The Whole Enchilada

In Uncategorized on September 9, 2010 at 7:47 AM

Thank you to the nearly 600 (whew) who signed up for my free ones. There are two more and you can still come tonight or monday (see above).One person wrote: Thanks for articulating the issues, clarifying “whole systems thinking” and providing much needed encouragement.

I’ve loved teaching them and being back in the saddle, which would be my roller ball chair, Mt Baker and Puget Sound out my window, phone beside me on speaker and screen in front of me watching you pour into the room.

For everyone reading this blog and not at the classes, I want to tell you the new format for my course. I’ve rolled the two classes I anticipated teaching into one that I call The Whole Enchilada: Money, Happiness and Enough.

Why only one?

First, people wanting to get a handle on money via the Your Money or Your Life program can do just that with the Whole Enchilada. Read the rest of this entry »


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