Voluntary Simplicity: an Interview With Financial Analyst Vicki Robin

Financial analyst Vicki Robin talks about frugal living and saving money.

| February/March 1998

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    Author Vicki Robin shares her wisdom on minimizing spending and maximizing income.

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After the financial boom and bust of the 1980s, the catchphrase 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 Domingues, 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 EARTH NEWS 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, 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."

MOTHER EARTH NEWS had the opporunity to meet with Vicki Robin and ask a few questions..

What exactly is the New Road Map Foundation? 

It's an all-volunteer, non-profit, educational and charitable foundation where we teach people tools for shifting to low-consumption, high-fulfillment lifestyles. None of the people who work at New Road Map are paid. All of our proceeds from seminars or books or educational programs are donated to non-profit groups working toward a sustainable world. We're about frugality and about how to learn to save without doing without much of what truly makes you happy.

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