The following are excerpts of an interview with Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez, pioneers in the sustainability movement. Dominguez died of cancer in Seattle January 11, 1997.|
At 31, Joe Dominguez retired from a job as a technical stock analyst on Wall Street. He left with a nest egg of about $70,000 and had lived on the investment income ever since -- about $6,000 a year. Dominguez and his partner Vicki Robin co-authored the bestseller, Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence (Viking, 1992). All monies received from book sales and other efforts to increase financial literacy are donated to the New Road Map Foundation, an all-volunteer, non-profit foundation Dominguez and Robin founded to promote the reduction of North American consumption.
The producers of Affluenza dedicate the film to Joe's memory.
Why is there more of an interest in voluntary simplicity in the '90s?
Joe Dominguez: There are a number of trends. People need to save for retirement because the institutions aren't going to handle that for them. People are sick and tired of being slaves to their jobs. They would like to spend more time with their kids. People are finding out that the philosophy of the '80s of "make more, spend more" hasn't brought them any more happiness. They're looking for another way of handling their finances. I think that's a major part of why our book has been so successful.
How have American attitudes toward money changed over the past few decades?
Joe Dominguez: Until 40 or 50 years ago, people knew that the money they were spending was a direct thing that they had acquired through the sweat of their brow. Then we began to separate from our money. Plastic helped a lot; it provided this screen: "It's not really my labor that I'm spending, just this plastic credit card." When people recognize, "Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" Once they make that link again, like we had historically, things will change.