Fantastic Interview of Vicki Robin (YMOYL)

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Dragline
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Fantastic Interview of Vicki Robin (YMOYL)

Post by Dragline » Thu Apr 06, 2017 7:46 am

This interview appeared in the feed today from the Mad Fientist: http://www.madfientist.com/vicki-robin-interview/

It touches on many broad themes of the counter-movement against consumerism, the recent history of the frugality movement (1960s-present), its moral underpinnings, leveraging skills, relations and community, and a living answer to that age old question of "Well, what do people do with themselves when they "retire"?"

Highly recommended and inspirational. Also an example of the "Baby-Boomer" version of this, which is heavily values-laden and is quite different from the Gen-X mindset that dominates here, yet results in similar behaviors and realizations.

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Re: Fantastic Interview of Vicki Robin (YMOYL)

Post by SustainableHappiness » Thu Apr 06, 2017 8:47 am

So glad someone posted this already!

It was really refreshing to listen to someone with a different motivation towards (and take on) FI than the modern movement (even if I didn't agree with everything). She repeatedly acknowledged the soft-side of wealth or the emotional and/or spiritual underpinnings of Financial Independence which is something I am trying to come to grips with. For example, do you have to have a X% SWR in order to be Financially Independent? Or is this just the simplest way to measure it?

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Re: Fantastic Interview of Vicki Robin (YMOYL)

Post by cmonkey » Thu Apr 06, 2017 12:55 pm

Affluenza reference! What a goodie that is.

I loved when she pointed out how ridiculously obvious this whole FI/under-consumption thing is. The big elephant in the room and all that.

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Re: Fantastic Interview of Vicki Robin (YMOYL)

Post by IlliniDave » Thu Apr 06, 2017 3:13 pm

Thanks for the link. It's the first time I've heard her speak.

She and I must bookend the boomer generation (she's nearly my parents' age) and I suppose when you get down to it I'm more of an X-er anyway. But for a person of "lefty politics" (her words) and boomer idealism she's pretty accepting of other riffs on the FI theme. Interesting she's teaming up with millennials. I may give it another listen later.

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Re: Fantastic Interview of Vicki Robin (YMOYL)

Post by C40 » Thu Apr 06, 2017 5:51 pm

That was really interesting to hear all the updates since publishing the book. It sure seems she is hardwired to try to change/improve the masses of humanity. I was a little surprised that she seemed to present Joe's reluctance to devote his life to promoting the book/message in a slightly negative way. Sometimes old people just have a matter-of-fact way of saying things though so maybe she didn't intend to. Or maybe she has old frustrations of having to share book profits with Joe when she seemed to have done nearly all the work of writing and promoting the book. I was hoping the Fientist (can't remember his name) would ask her a bit about Joe's life, since it seemed that maybe he preferred to relax in his FI Shangri La - something that she said after years of trying to change the world, she really wanted to do herself. But if I'm remembering the dates right, he died not all that long after they made the book, so maybe there wasn't much more to share.


Near the end when she was talking about improving her own local community, her living arrangements, flows, etc. she really started reminding me of 7wb5

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Re: Fantastic Interview of Vicki Robin (YMOYL)

Post by frihet » Fri Apr 07, 2017 6:38 am

Thank you Dragline.

A refreshing perspective in the current FI world. There was a more hearty womanly feel to this talk than the normal SWRs and investing podcasts.

Her suggestions towards the end sounded a lot like ERE, to be a well rounded person with tradable skills, community around you and not only count on your investments for independence.

To watch your expenses as a meditation is also great advice. What need is this purchase fulfilling? Real need or an emotional hole?

For what ever it's worth I felt a spirutual awakened energy from her, heart opening. I believe I could hear the madfientist being under the influence. I bet she is great to be around.

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Re: Fantastic Interview of Vicki Robin (YMOYL)

Post by jacob » Fri Apr 07, 2017 8:57 am

I was surprised to see the numbers which I've previously only been able to estimate. So the definite number was $70k in 1969 money which is $476k today which is impressive/high for a 30 year old.The number I had in my mind was $100k in 1980 at 6% (long bonds). This would be 295k today throwing off ~18k. If those numbers are correct, the 1970s stagflation were painful. At some point Vicki talks about her current spending. I heard that as 17k?

Some dates: YMOYL came out in 1992 but that was after running the seminars for a long time. Joe died in 1997.

In terms of capital skills, the discussions I'm aware of are:
ERE book (2010)
Permaculture (2009-11) http://www.appleseedpermaculture.com/8- ... f-capital/
Martenson's Prosper (2015) https://www.amazon.com/Prosper-Prepare- ... 1937832767 (which uses the 8 forms above).
The four kinds she talks about may come from Transition Towns (interesting she was/is involved in that on Whidbey Island). I don't recall if they use a theoretical framework that involves capital.

The idea of alternative capital diversification is semi-trivial. IIRC, I initially started calling them "skills" but then realized that "capital" was more descriptive. The perma-guys thought of it in terms of stock and flow which is clever. This did not occur to me. Also important to realize that financial capital tends to be fungible whereas other kinds are much less so relying on complex design to unlock value (i.e. systems theory). It's also interesting how people come up with different kinds of capital though. The thought of adding a spiritual component of capital never occurred to me. Go figure!

Boomers are value-driven ... and maybe that's why a lot of people from that generation (FI, simplicity, and sustainability) strike me as INF* ... whereas the 2000-2010 generation seem more STEM oriented and therefore comprises a lot of INT*.

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Re: Fantastic Interview of Vicki Robin (YMOYL)

Post by BRUTE » Fri Apr 07, 2017 12:45 pm

STEM just have different values. all humans are value-driven.

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Re: Fantastic Interview of Vicki Robin (YMOYL)

Post by jacob » Fri Apr 07, 2017 1:10 pm

I also found the investment style discussions interesting.

It's been a long time since I read the original from 1992. IIRC the idea was to buy long treasuries and roll them slowly and manually. Today, that would be the equivalent of holding TLT. It would serve to generate a more or less constant income despite interest rate fluctuations. If rates go up, bonds go down but those are reinvested at higher rates ... and so generally the result is a wash. This is how a modern ETF works => it's a play on interest rates that pays an income. To do this today, you would need a LARGE amount of money because real returns are near zero (ZIRP).

(The alternative would be to build a bond ladder and hold everything to maturation. This preserves nominal capital and is completely different than holding an ETF. Holding BND would be somewhat of an approximation ... but not really...)

The revised version was from 2006 and IIRC it had completely jumped on the index fund bandwagon. The index fund popularity bandwagon effect correlates strongly with bull markets and 2006 was awesome/obvious. It was basically to 2002 what 2015 was to 2009. (note bull runs used to be a lot shorter before QE).

The strategy in the 2017 interview was way more agnostic in terms of strats which I really appreciated. I was fascinated to learn that she focuses on investing locally if at all possible. This is a very hands on activity. It's the business equivalent of being a landlord. Doing so requires significant level of community capital that generally takes years to build up---you really gotta know people cf. Wall Street investing which is as anonymous as can be. This may be related to the Transition Town strategy.

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Re: Fantastic Interview of Vicki Robin (YMOYL)

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Fri Apr 07, 2017 6:11 pm

Thanks for this link. I read "YMOYL" very shortly after it was first published in 1992. I was definitely doing some combination of the program and the advice offered in "The Tightwad Gazette" when I was in my young Mom phase, trying to save up enough money to buy a house on just one income, which would have been prior to 1995.

Clearly, Joel Dominguez must have been the INTJ of the duo. Vicki has definitely got some E and some F going on. I can't believe I haven't read "Blessing the Hands That Feed Us" yet!

It was really interesting listening to this podcast because I just re-read "How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World" right after reading "The Moneyless Manifesto" and I was thinking about the essential difference in the boundaries of that version of libertarian system vs. local-economy-sharing system. Clearly, her take on "seeking financial independence in order to have the freedom to provide service to the whole" puts her more in the Moneyless Man camp. It's not really about Boomer values vs. Gen-X/STEM values. It's about "feminine" energy vs. "masculine" energy. She is almost exactly the age peer of the comic Lewis Black and in his bit on defending his choice to never marry or have children he says that is why he can afford to have two young waitresses from Hooters take care of him when he is old. Compare and contrast with what she said on this topic. It's also about whether you think the utilitarian efficiency of "put on your own face mask first" trumps the reality of "necessary resources that can't not be shared." Even if you can bring yourself to not care about the "children in the river", their dead bodies may contaminate your drinking water.

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Re: Fantastic Interview of Vicki Robin (YMOYL)

Post by classical_Liberal » Sat Apr 08, 2017 12:59 pm

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Fri Apr 07, 2017 6:11 pm
Even if you can bring yourself to not care about the "children in the river", their dead bodies may contaminate your drinking water.
While this may be true, in the interview it sounded as if Robin clearly expressed dissatisfaction during her years of trying to go up stream. After much effort, she felt it was futile and clearly made the decision to put her efforts into a more individual and localized system. This would be in complete agreement with Browne's ideals. Robin's comments about needing both types of people, neither being better than the other is very post-modern of her, but also a bit of a cop-out in typical boomer/hippy fashion. Perhaps it depends on the local and national landscape of prominent ideas along with the individual to determine which is best. I would argue though, at least for a given individual, in a given locale and time in history, one is better than the other. Both for individual happiness and systemic change. OTOH, I found it very interesting she had no knowledge of the current ERE/FIRE movement which is a likely offspring of her and Joe's ideas. So perhaps all of her up river efforts in the 1990's spawned us?

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Re: Fantastic Interview of Vicki Robin (YMOYL)

Post by Ego » Sat Apr 08, 2017 4:13 pm

classical_Liberal wrote:
Sat Apr 08, 2017 12:59 pm
So perhaps all of her up river efforts in the 1990's spawned us?
I read the book way back when and liked it very much.
Last edited by Ego on Sun Apr 09, 2017 1:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Fantastic Interview of Vicki Robin (YMOYL)

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Sat Apr 08, 2017 5:03 pm

@Ego: From "Blessing the Hands that Feed Us" , her recent book on experimenting with a locavore diet. She is reminiscing about several years of youth she spent living "back to land" in a commune like setting.
There we found a "perfectly good, but just needs a little TLC" rototiller that Joe Dominguez, one of the community members, tinkered back into life. He rolled it out to the garden like a proud mama displaying her first baby in a pram. Instead of walking behind it, he stood on the back like a Roman charioteer, sinking the tiller's tines deep into the lumps and clumps as he rode triumphantly round and round the garden- spewing soil out the rear.
I actually find that I like her more and more as I read this locavore book. She's pretty darn forthright, humble about her many imperfections, and funny. Obviously, based on her above description, she was in love with the man at one time. I think what she might be somewhat dismissing or re-evaluating as she grows older is the aspect of extreme frugality that may have been reflective of fear-based conservatism due to poverty experienced in Joe's youth. This is something I often question in myself since I know that my own tendencies towards frugality are partly in reaction to my bi-polar mother's spend-aholicism vs. my father's old-school upper-middle-class Yankee preservation-of-capital conservatism. There are layers upon layers in the life of any creative, thoughtful person, and you may want to question the source of your own motivation to leap to judgment. Visceral reactions to others are usually reflective of sore/weak/blind spots in own functioning.

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Re: Fantastic Interview of Vicki Robin (YMOYL)

Post by Ego » Sat Apr 08, 2017 6:25 pm

Yeah, I guess Joe had a little Aliki in him.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=If41cZMBgqA

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Re: Fantastic Interview of Vicki Robin (YMOYL)

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Sat Apr 08, 2017 7:04 pm

@Ego:lol- Blech. Maybe more like this?

Image

No, that's not at all right either.

I'm thinkin' maybe more like this one. Yum...

Image

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Re: Fantastic Interview of Vicki Robin (YMOYL)

Post by C40 » Sat Apr 08, 2017 8:44 pm

Image

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Re: Fantastic Interview of Vicki Robin (YMOYL)

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Sun Apr 09, 2017 4:19 am

We are terrible. I think Lewis Black is the philosophical father of Gen-X.

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Re: Fantastic Interview of Vicki Robin (YMOYL)

Post by jennypenny » Sun Apr 09, 2017 4:49 am

Joe's story is much more interesting than Vicki's and I wish she would write more about it (see his NYT obit here). It surprised me that she still seems a little put off that he took retirement pretty literally and didn't help much with promotion of the book. It sounded like his family situation forced him to grow up and start working at a very early age. He'd put in more years working than a normal 31yo when he retired. She was a privileged kid who hadn't been challenged yet. He probably did her a favor by giving her the reins to the project. He could probably see she needed it.

I'm know that's complete speculation, but I found her comments about his contribution a little off-putting. I also found it funny that she's aiming for Millennials and skipping over GenXers like we're not worth the trouble. I guess she doesn't want people like Lewis Black in her transition town. ;)

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Re: Fantastic Interview of Vicki Robin (YMOYL)

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Sun Apr 09, 2017 6:25 am

@jennypenny: I am rather fascinated by both their stories because in my own childhood I experienced a rough mix of affluence and financial-distress because my parents were both middle-class intellectuals with professional careers, but my mother's mental illness resulted in spending/rage disorder so severe that she practically drove our family into bankruptcy during my teen years. For instance, on one occasion she threw our extra-large 1970s color television set into a snow drift in the backyard of our house on a lake. So, then my father started listening to the radio instead, and that was just as fun, but more interesting than watching TV. So, I learned that money, or the stuff that money buys, isn't really very important to happiness, but also that it doesn't really make sense to exert a lot of energy into making or saving money because some angry, crazy, desperate person will eventually take it from you anyways.

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Re: Fantastic Interview of Vicki Robin (YMOYL)

Post by jacob » Sun Apr 09, 2017 11:21 am

Walk a mile in someone's shoes ...

It's probably obvious to everybody, but if not, I'd say the most attractive thing /sarc/ about writing a book or spending many years promoting an idea that gets big enough to attract mainstream attraction is for sure the thrill of the resulting public commentary on one's person and the public's subsequent expectation that the author meets whatever idiosyncratic caricature everybody subjectively ends of forming.

People will read your message and use it to hold a mirror up to themselves and then project whatever they like and don't like about themselves onto you. If your message is one they're ready to hear, you'll be seen as brilliant and insightful. If they're not ready whatever you wrote was a ranting screed. And if they already heard it before, your message will be seen as trivial ... or maybe more mercifully as outdated or clever for its time. Likewise, you will simultaneously be seen as witty or hateful depending on the reader's grasp of irony. Your use of technical language, metaphors, or equations will get the same treatment depending one the readers' capability for poetic or algebraic twists and turns. If they don't resonate, they're shite, otherwise clever.

Whenever it comes to public appearances, you will be judged according to people's caricature of you. If you're William Shatner, you better act like Captain Kirk when you show up at ComiCon and laugh whenever someone says "beam me up" for the next 50 years---because standard jokes never ever get old. Or maybe you laugh too much; or maybe too little. Maybe you're funnier in person and maybe not. It's a problem either way. Whatever your facial expression will be seen as either a smile or a smirk. You get 2 seconds to consider your response, but whatever you say will live on the internet forever where it will get analyzed and speculated on. Humans love to blow things out of proportion. This is why we have tabloids. Maybe you'll be lucky enough to have a meme idea associated with you. If I say Richard Gere and gerbils ... what do you think? Everybody thinks memes are hi-larious, especially their targets.

If you write something particularly successful, this will forever become the public's reference point in terms of what you do next. If you're the author of Harry Potter, you can forget about changing your focus away from children's fantasy, because if you publish a darker book intended for grown-ups, ... oh boy! Nah .. having one success means forever locking yourself into playing the role of THAT guy in the public and focusing on public relations henceforth. Managing your public image is the number one dream of any author. Nevermind the idea itself ... that's not why people write books.

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Re: Fantastic Interview of Vicki Robin (YMOYL)

Post by BRUTE » Sun Apr 09, 2017 11:40 am

haha, but what about lentils?

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Re: Fantastic Interview of Vicki Robin (YMOYL)

Post by Ego » Sun Apr 09, 2017 1:39 pm

@Jacob, I stand by what I said. Well, most of it. One comment was over the top. But I agree that it was inappropriate of me to use your bullhorn to say it. My apologies. I have edited the post.

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Re: Fantastic Interview of Vicki Robin (YMOYL)

Post by Scott 2 » Sun Apr 09, 2017 10:55 pm

The degree of optimism she holds for influencing societal change was unexpected. I always read your money or your life as a guide to put yourself first.

Her retention of the hope and motivation for so many decades really surprises me.

I suspected by 25 that I wasn't going to change the world. By 30 there were no doubts - I'm just not that important.

I seem to recall concern over the world's finite resources as a stated driver for bringing ERE to the masses. If I'm remembering correctly, it's an interesting parallel.

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Re: Fantastic Interview of Vicki Robin (YMOYL)

Post by Did » Mon Apr 10, 2017 2:11 am

@jacob What would you know anyway, living like a student in a car eating lentils. I like the idea of not working, but could never be that extreme!

And you weren't even retired anyway. Back to work. Not enough capital I read.

(Note to new people: I don't mean the above, and it isn't true).

I too am fascinated about JD. I think he did work really hard for a long time with his seminars and the like (for free mind you). Just as well he put limits around it, as he died young. It could happen to any of us. What a difference it would have been had he wanted to be a millionaire by 60 through working at his no doubt awful job.

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Re: Fantastic Interview of Vicki Robin (YMOYL)

Post by Sclass » Mon Apr 10, 2017 7:27 am

Thanks for sharing the link. I own the book but never read it.

Yeah, I agree she was bitter about her late husband's involvement. There seemed to be a little insecurity in there about the origins of the project. Just a feeling from the tone of voice.

I enjoyed listening to her while watching Steve Cutts images scroll by on a slideshow. :lol: :lol: :lol:

The fact that she didn't succeed was a bit depressing.

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