You Can Be Free: A Review

Mark and Lisa Scandrette have completely paid off their house. That in itself is impressive, but two other facts made me want to listen to what they have to say about finances in their book Free: Spending Your Time and Money on What Matters Most. First, they live in San Francisco, which is consistently listed as one of the most expensive places to live in the United States. Second, they have never made more than an average teacher’s salary.

In this book, they set forth seven steps toward aligning our money and time with what we value most. Those seven steps are:

1. Name what matters most to you. Ask, “Who am I and what do I want to be about?”

2. Value and align your time. Time is not an infinite resource; be deliberate about how you are going to spend it.

3. Practice gratitude and trust. Be grateful for what you have, and believe that God is able and willing to give you what you need.

4. Believe you have enough. Be content, in spite of the many messages you receive every day telling you not to be.

5. Create a spending plan. Like time, money is not an infinite resource. Decide in advance how you are going to spend it, and don’t spend more than you have.

6. Maximize your resources. Reduce costs wherever you can. Practice frugality. Ask, “Do I really need this?”

7. Live generously and spend wisely. If you live out the first six steps, chances are that at some point in your life you will have more money than you need, and you will have freedom to choose how to spend your time. Be generous with both.

Throughout the book, they include exercises and questions to help readers implement this process in their own lives. There is even an eight-session group learning guide in the back for those who go through this process together.

There is no shortage of books on the market that purport to give financial advice. There is even no shortage of books on the market that purport to give financial advice from a Christian perspective. What sets Free apart is the Scandrettes’ holistic vision. What you do with your money is related to everything else you do, and everything you do is in turn related to everyone around you. Freedom is not individualistic; it is not the ability to do whatever you want without other people interfering. No, freedom is the ability to live out of who God made you to be, and to help others live out of who God made them to be.

The Scandrettes write near the beginning of the book, “We hope to offer a resource that connects personal economic practice with spiritual values, questions of meaning, global justice and ecological sustainability” (16). I believe they have done just that.

Note: Thanks to InterVarsity Press for a (free!) copy of this book in exchange for my review.