What do you think is wrong with the way many Americans view money?|
Joe Dominguez: We think that many people in this culture are suffering from Affluenza. Statistics show that people are no happier now than they were in 1957, even though our consumption has gone up over 50 percent. Affluenza is that experience of no matter how hard you try to extract happiness out of material things, beyond a certain point that we call enough -- having your needs taken care of, having some comforts and even having some luxuries -- beyond that point of more spending, more material possessions are not going to make you happy. As a matter of fact, they erode your sense of well-being.
Who did you write Your Money or Your Life for?
Joe Dominguez: Your Money or Your Life has nine basic steps in it that lead people toward a more conscious and fulfilling relationship with money, and towards reducing their expenses by an average of 25 percent or more. The book is aimed at anybody who earns money or spends money. The steps will be far more fruitful for people living in the lower income brackets. The person who is living on $10,000 bucks a year -- my childhood by the way, I grew up in the ghetto on welfare and my family was extremely poor, and I had to learn how to stretch that buck until the eagle grins -- that's one of the roots to the whole program. The correspondence we've gotten indicates that people from every income bracket are using this program, from under $10,000 a year to $250,000.
What are some effects of Affluenza?
Vicki Robin: One of the main by-products of Affluenza is the effect of the North American lifestyle on the environment. Global warming is happening, and the North American lifestyle is implicated. It is destroying the biosphere that we depend on. We breathe the air, we're exposed to the sun, we're part of the biosphere. If we destroy our home through our consumption, then we're going to destroy the basis of life, and our children and our grandchildren are not going to have the ability to go out into the sun without sun-block on.
There are some people who are getting wealthier, and everybody else is feeling poorer because they are comparing themselves to the people in that insidious box that we call the television. I don't have as much as the people in the soap operas, so I must be doing poorly. It erodes your sense of self-esteem. There is a kind of unraveling of the (social) fabric -- the two-wage-earner households, the latch-key kids. There is an increasing amount of teen suicide that tells us that our young people don't want to grow up in this culture that supposedly has it all.