It works in Macedonia, too

Ata Atanasov from Macedonia contacted me last year to arrange a translation into Macedonian of Your Money or Your Life. We settled on the simpler, quicker task of translating the excellent summary. I well recognized his passion to spread the powerful program in places where a dose of financial sanity could do a world of good. I authorized translations into Thai and Chinese and Portuguese and more for very little royalties so the teaching could spread.

In exchange, I asked Ata to answer some questions so I could share them with you:

How did you find the book?

  1. I have answered this question two ways, use and elaborate on whatever answer you think is more appropriate.
  2. On my daily commute to work, I came across an article reading Forbes, which read “How This Couple Retired in Their 30’s To Travel The World”. Your book was featured in that article and after I was done reading the article I went on my kindle application and downloaded your book.
  3. I found this book to be very informative and educational. Unlike other books I have read covering similar topics, such as money, finances, and savings, Vicki’s book, Your Money or Your Life provides in-depth, real world examples on how to reach financial independence and how to transform your relationship with money. I believe this book should be offered as a mandatory course at universities and/or high schools around the world. By doing so, people can have the opportunity to educate themselves and make smart financial decisions when becoming adults.

What convinced you it was right for you?

  1. Seeing that the entire book was based on real life examples provided by individuals such as yourself and many others, gave me the confidence that I could apply some of the techniques highlighted in this book to my lifestyle. I have been looking for ways to save money, and at the same time maintain a comfortable lifestyle provide for family of five. I knew that if I could implement at least 30 percent of what is discussed in your book to our lifestyle, we could be saving more money; therefore I could work less, still maintain a comfortable lifestyle, and spend more time with my family.
  2. Additionally, this book give me the boost I needed in order to be able to manage our money more efficiently on things that matter the most.

 Which steps were the most eye-opening?

  1. I must say all steps were very important and have brought some value in one way or another. However, the most significant steps for me were, step three, four, six, seven, and eight.
  2. Step three for instance, was something I was already doing, however I was able to enhance my spreadsheet with new a tabulations\categories in order to provide chromosome/macro level expense tracking. Consciousness and Awareness were two big factors that I found very beneficial in Step 3 because that was the perfect reminder for me to pay closer attention to how much I was spending and what was I spending my money on. And the formula to calculate the hours of life energy dedicated to earn money was another very interesting thing I was able to add to my monthly spreadsheet.
  3. Step four, allowed me to ask myself if we as a family have received fulfillment, satisfaction, and value in the things that we spent our money on in proportion to life energy spent. Every time we make a purchase my wife and I actually ask ourselves, do we need this right now, can we get rid of something else instead and use the proceeds towards a new purchase. Are we actually buying value, is it going to last and is it going to be utilized all the time or is it going to sit in the closet collecting dust.
  4. Step six, “The American Dream – On A Shoestring”. Has kept us in line every time we look to acquire new things but at the same time it thought us to appreciate what we currently have. It encouraged us to clean our own condo instead of paying someone else to do it, fix things on our own, and even wear things out instead of replacing them unnecessarily. For instance, we had a malfunctioning cord on our iron and often times we were talking about purchasing a new iron but in stead we have decided to replace the cord since the iron was in pretty good shape. Now the iron works fine and we didn’t have to break the bank by replacing the current iron with a new one.
  5. Step seven, work/job, I have long debated this topic believing that finding a job I love would ultimately bring happiness and I wouldn’t have to work another day. I have contemplated the definition of work for years but after reading your book and the way you have laid things out about work and un-fulfillment, got me to revaluate the purpose of the work I do. On the other hand, after we had our 3 children, we have decided to have my wife spend 100% of her time with the kids, instead of going back to work. This has been a major life change and adjustment for us but to be quiet honest it has worked for us pretty well. I’m even considering working part time and spending more time with my family while maintaining decent lifestyle by leaving within our means. Step seven is where I started asking the question; am I giving up happiness for comfort?
  6. Step eight, had provided the opportunity for me to start investing in stocks and bonds. I have always wanted to invest but I didn’t know where to begin. Your examples and formulas are pretty straightforward and for that reason I was able to finally invest our savings. I still have ways to go to reach the “crossover point” but at least I have the basic tools that will help me get there soon enough. Step eight has been motivational factor for discovering Robinhood and Acorns. Robinhood has been a great tool for me to use when buying stocks because it cost $0 to trade. Acorns on the other hand is a micro-savings and investing tool. There is a $1 monthly fee associated with keeping the account open but it is well worth it. In a nutshell, your spare change automatically gets invested in a portfolio tailored specifically for you based on your criteria (e.g. short term, long term goals, etc.). Additionally, I have boosted my investment in company stocks and Roth IRA to make sure, we tuck away (for now) close to 15% – 20% of my paycheck.

What were your biggest changes? 

  1. Committing to new lifestyle, spending less, researching investment tools with minimal or zero monthly fees.

 What would financial freedom be for you?

  1. First of all, making sure basic necessities are taking care of. Paying off our mortgage and accumulate enough savings to be able to live and travel comfortably even if my wife and I do not have to work for extended period of time. To make sure, we can live of off our dividends and savings by covering all of our expenses. Being able to provide for our 3 children and make sure they are set up to save early enough.
  2. Ideally traveling as much as we want for as long as we want anywhere in the world. I would like to be able to live in a different country for few months. This is how I envision, financial freedom and retirement.

 Who are you translating the summary for?

  1. I would like the summary to be translated for the people of Macedonia. I like to provide a way for Macedonians to educate themselves in a way that we are able to educate ourselves in the US. There is a lack of financial education and lack of general education in regards to all 9 steps covered in your book. In the US, we have the privilege to be blessed with authors like you, I believe it is very important to spread such knowledge around to globe and educate more people. By doing so, people will be able to do better financially. When you know better, you do better.

What are the main financial challenges for Macedonians 

  1. Some of the main financial challenges for Macedonians are lack of resources, education, trust, bureaucracy, and government corruption. I believe, Macedonians are not educated enough on how to handle their finances. Educational documentaries on financial topics are hardly ever discussed in public or broadcasted on national television or introduced in schools. Nobody feels comfortable talking about money or ways to save money. This fact could be tied to government scams and false advertisement. In the past banks have filed for bankruptcy and people have lost millions of denars (local currency) and foreign currencies. Resources on the other hand are none existent. If any, there are minimal ways you can inform yourself on how to overcome your current financial challenge. I do not recall books being written or presentation being given on financial challenges in Macedonia. I am pretty sure very little improvement has been made. Macedonian people alone are not always to blame; the government plays a key role towards peoples behavior. Bureaucracy and government corruption have left people with very little choice when it comes to saving and investing. People have lost total trust in the banking system; mainly because their hard earned money had disappeared overnight without explanation and without holding anyone accountable. It feels as though few individuals who set their own rules and are above the law run the banking system in Macedonia. Not even a single individual has been jailed for such action by the government. Bureaucracy has definitely hampered investment opportunities and exposure to stocks and/or bonds for ordinary citizens.
  2. Domestic and Foreign Enterprises on the other hand may offer some sort of financial benefits, allowing ordinary citizens to be able to save to some extend but I can’t really discuss about that since I am not too familiar with the overall financial benefits system.
  3. Generally speaking, people lack interest and motivation. I would like to point out that Macedonians interest in finances might not be on their top priority. Most people in Macedonia value their time over their money and for that reason, happiness, and laid back style take precedence over finances. This factor alone could definitely present a huge financial challenge for Macedonians.



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