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Getting By: France or Bust


Published February 6, 2009 at 12:07 p.m.

At the end of last year, I blogged about a new column that we've started, called "Getting By". Every other week in "Getting By," we share stories about how Vermonters are coping with the recession. We also feature tips and money-saving strategies to help you "get by."

This week in the column, I wrote about Jane Dwinell and her family. They're getting by just fine — Jane and her husband Sky Yardley are essentially retired and living off of investment income. They live part-time in Montpelier, in a house they built themselves and share with their grown children, Dana and Sayer. They also spend part of the year living on canal boat in France (see photos).

I wrote about them because they weren't always so financially secure. Back in 1993, Jane read Your Money or Your Life, a book that made her rethink her relationship with money. Jane told me that following the book's advice helped her family achieve their goal of financial independence.

I read YMOYL several years ago, but I was too lazy — and too chicken — to do what the authors recommended. Basically, you have to figure out all the money you've ever earned in your life, then track all of your income and expenses, then figure out how much money you need to earn to be happy. It's pretty involved. It also asks you to treat money as "life energy," which is a little New Agey for my taste, but does actually make sense.

Apparently this approach works — for some people anyway. Looking at these photos of France makes me want to give it another try.

I'm still actively seeking stories and ideas for "Getting By." Please leave them as comments here, or send them to me at

Of course, alert readers will have noted that the series, when announced, was supposed to run weekly. But our papers have been a little thinner, so we scaled it back to every other week, alternating with "Hackie" — that's one of the ways we're getting by. Heh.