Now that I have a full-time job, I have more money than I ever had in my life. I am so privileged that I have a stable income. In this phase of life, most people use that money to buy expensive things for themselves, a car, a house, phones, etc. Most people adapt their lifestyle to their salary. Today I want to tell you about a book that may inspire you to make different choices than most people. Today I want to tell you about the book Je Geld of Je Leven, written by Hanneke van Veen and Rob van Eeden.
As I said, most people adapt their lifestyle to their salary. I immediately noticed this when I got my first salary. People around me encourage me to celebrate this by buying something nice for myself. Collegues said they did this themselves too. Getting the newest phone, now they can afford it. Or a nice pair of shoes. Sometimes even a car. I think this is ridiculous. When I need something, I think about it long and buy it secondhand when I really need it. My goal is actually to buy as little stuff as possible.
Why? Because these purchases literally control your life. Most people check with the bank how much they can lend, and buy a house based on that amount. You’ve then tied yourself to a job for the next 30, 40, 50 years. You always have a mortage to pay and so you have to work. And the same goes with stuff. If you earn 2.000 euros a month and buy a car that’s worth 20.000 euros, you trade 10 months of freedom for a car. Everything you buy is a trade off with freedom.
This is just how capitalism works. You need money to have a decent life. You cannot choose to only volunteer or take care of family. Money has to be made and is the basis of life. Therefore, the less money you need to live a happy life, the freer you are in my opinion. Stuff is just stuff, and it does not make you happy. Capitalism just tries to tell us that we’re not good enough. But capitalism is all we have right now, so money is the basis of literally everything in our life.
Je Geld Of Je Leven
That’s were Je Geld Of Je Leven comes in. Je Geld of Je Leven was written by Hanneke van Veen and Rob van Eeden and published in 1996 already. Yes, this is quite an old book, but I think it’s still very relevant. Yes, society had changed, but money has not. It’s still the base of everything. And I think Je Geld of je Leven hits the core very well. The literal translation (it’s a Dutch book) is: Your money or your life. It describes how we can lost in the treadmill of capitalism, and how this way our expenses rise and rise. We can be trapped by money. This book is able to bring you back to the very basis.
Built Up of the Book
The book has a very clear and easy built-up. It first describes money itself. What is it? Why do we need it? And how does it control our lives? Sounds too simple, but the base is really important. Then the book describes how you can get a grip on your finances and see where you spend your money on. What are you actually working for? Next, starting at 0, you start to map what’s actually important to you and adjust your expenses to those values. That part is also about consummation, very important. And lastly, the book also discusses financial freedom. You know, when you no longer have to trade your freedom/time for money. This book literally has it all.
I want to make one thing very clean though. I think it’s a good thing that people save money by buying way less stuff and being content with what they have. What I however donot find okay is saving money in an unsustainable way. Buying non-organic, cheap food for example. Or buying cheap fast fashion or cosmetics. Sustainability is always more important than saving money.
But mostly, saving money and sustainability can go together. Living frugal, minimalistic and being content. So on that front, I try to save as much money as I can. The more money I save, and the ess I need to live, the more freedom I have. With 20.000 euros worth of savings, I can easily stop working for 20 months if I need 1.000 euros to live each month. It buys me freedom, I could quit my job, I could go traveling, follow my passions. Money equals freedom.
Then there’s one more exception. And those are donations. I save money for myself. But at the same time, I donate to a lot of charities. I would never save money on that either. Living in The Netherlands, with this privilege, I feel like I should use that privilege to help other. But again, this can go hand in hand with saving money. The less clothing I buy, the more money I can donate to others. The key is to have a good balance between saving money for yourself and donating money. More about that struggle another time.
You can read Je Geld of Je Leven here for free, since it’s such a dated book.
Have you read Je Geld of Je Leven?