The late Joe Dominguez retired at age 30, and spent the rest of his life teaching people how to achieve financial independence by changing the way they think about—and spend—their money. Today this revered figure in the conscious living movement is admired for the example he set, and his years of effort on behalf of the environment, social justice, and other worthy causes. Here Joe Dominguez tells about how he went from Wall Street analyst to conscious living hero—through his legendary seminar on “Transforming Your Relationship with Money.”
The creation of this audio seminar is the latest chapter of my own personal “mission,” and as such I would like to personally share with you how and why it came about. Throughout my early years I had a strong sensing that there had to be more to life than devoting the forty prime years of one's life to “making a living.” My many jobs as a teenager—from delivery boy to office boy to retail clerk—allowed me to observe many levels of society. Two consistent observations emerged: first, the confusion, dissatisfaction, and frustration around money exhibited by so many people at all income levels; and second, the total lack of realistic alternatives to “nine to five till sixty-five.”
Money and Freedom: I Learn the Truth
In 1960, at the age of twenty-two, broke and in debt, I set out to learn all I could about money and personal finances. I chose Wall Street, America's financial mecca, as my laboratory. As I moved up through the ranks, I had access to the financial programs of thousands of clients and organizations. I examined their attitudes, fears, misconceptions, and failures. I made many mistakes of my own, with my own money, learning along the way, and sowing the first seeds of the program you now hold in your hands.
By 1965 I was out of debt, had no assets, and was starting out on a new job with a modest salary—but I had a very strong suspicion that I had learned the basic principles of money and, much more importantly, the basic attitudes and principles of a successful relationship with money. I began to apply those principles with total determination—modifying, adding, deleting, and refining them as I went along—and in 1969, just before I turned thirty-one, I completed the program. Using only the money from my modest salary—no speculations, no “killings on the market,” nothing but paychecks—I had established a safe, steady income, adequate for my needs, for the rest of my life. I was now financially independent, and I resigned from my paid employment.
Since that time I have not accepted money for anything I do. (Profits from this course have gone, via the New Road Map Foundation, to organizations promoting viable, nonpartisan solutions to the world's problems—hunger, education, threat of nuclear annihilation, and so on.)
The years since my financial independence have not been idle. Being free from monetary problems allowed me to see a larger picture. I saw how many kinds of human problems were subtly linked to money—including using money as an excuse for ignoring or tolerating those problems—and I found myself becoming infinitely more free. With this greatly increased freedom from personal problems came the awareness that the world had many problems. Whether stated biblically as “We are our brothers' keepers” or more contemporarily, it comes down to the same thing: there is an opportunity to contribute to the larger whole.
A “Reluctant” Success Story
Initially, I shared my financial independence program with friends, and they found it can be adapted to fit anyone's circumstances—singles, couples, families with children, laborers or executives, urban or rural dwellers. As they applied the program, attitude by attitude and step by step, they realized that it really did work—and they enthusiastically shared it with their friends and families.
During those early years it became obvious that for the program to work, it had to be communicated accurately and in full detail, and every attitude evaluation and step applied diligently; efforts to create shortcuts resulted in short circuits. While partial application might improve your financial picture, the program was indeed synergistic—the whole was much greater than the sum of the parts. Those who heard it from a friend (filtered through that friend's own peculiar financial quirks) or who heard it piecemeal from tapes, without the worksheets or diagrams, would often end up more confused or skeptical—much to the friend's consternation (and mine, when I'd have to untangle the miscommunications and misunderstandings).
All this led to my reluctant creation of my live seminar, “Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence.” “Reluctant” because I had always been terrified of speaking before an audience (I had slowed my career on Wall Street by refusing to speak at analysts' meetings!). “Reluctant” because I am basically very shy. “Reluctant” because I could think of a thousand things I'd rather be doing than the radio, TV, or newspaper interviews so often necessary for a successful seminar. “Reluctant” because putting on a seminar means that someone has to sell me—and it's sometimes a thin line between high-quality promotion and hucksterism. “Reluctant” because so many money seminars and workshops are little more than high-priced hustles that fill the pockets of only the presenters and promoters.
The long roster of reluctances was counterbalanced by the number of people who were benefiting greatly from the program—and especially by their new-found ability to contribute to others and to the planet. As the ideas of financial integrity and financial independence were shared, the success of the F.I. seminar grew. All proceeds from the seminars went to nonprofit organizations.
In line with my commitment to distribute all proceeds, I took no money, not even for travel expenses. My rewards were the visits, letters, and phone calls months and years later from seminar participants—and seeing their new-found clarity and ease around money, their progress toward full financial independence, their sense of personal fulfillment, and, above all, their desire to use their freed-up energy to make a difference, to actively contribute to the betterment of their planet.
A Quandary—and a Solution
The geometrically increased number of “graduates” brought about further pressure for an even greater number of seminars (there were often as many as ten seminar requests per week); yet seminars had become so large that each one required two months to organize, print materials, rent appropriate facilities, gather and train logistics teams, and so on. Yes, my “mission” is to help as many people seeking freedom from money concerns as possible so that they can move on to discover their particular contribution to life. At the same time, I have a profound reluctance to create an ongoing seminar-producing organization or come under the wing of an existing organization.
So here was my quandary:
My solution is Transforming Your Relationship with Money & Achieving Financial Independence, a do-it-yourself workshop that lets you take my seminar in your own home. This audio-and-workbook course has a dual purpose and includes all the tools and information necessary to allow you to carry that out:
I sincerely hope that you find this program useful and, should you choose to become financially independent, that your life is as fulfilling as mine has been for the past twenty years.
Excerpted and edited from the workbook for “Transforming Your Relationship with Money & Achieving Financial Independence.” © Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin