Your Money or Your Life

by Peter Axtell

How Are You Spending Your Life Energy?

In this article, we're going to explore the relationship between money and life energy. Unless you're a trust fund baby, everything you spend money on has to be earned by life energy. How are you spending yours?

Money Won't Buy You Happiness (yeah sure)

Come on…no one believes that old saw "money won't make you happy." People nod their head and go “yeah yeah, I know money won't make me happy” but…deep down they're thinking “give me the god-damn money and then I'll find out if it makes me happy” (I'm sure it will).

Are You Willing to Look at Money in a Different Way?

It sounds absurd in a way as we are immersed every day with messages about money. The outside message is you don't have enough and never will. The internal messages come mostly from our parents and their view of money.  One of the biggest gifts any parent can give to their children is financial literacy. Whether you were taught or not about money, it's never too late to develop awareness around money and your relationship to it.

Where is Our Money Going?

The first step is to gain awareness with where our money is going. Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin, the authors of “Your Money or Your Life”, recommend three steps to awareness around money:

  1. How much time are you spending at work? Divide the hours into your salary. For example, if you make $5000 a month and work 160 hours a month, your hourly income is $31.25. 
  2. Track for one month every penny that you spend. If it's a quarter for a parking meter, track it. Do this for thirty days.
  3. Make a chart to track your income and expenses. Then convert your expenses into hours of life energy. You'll be shocked to look at money as life energy.

Here Is My Experiment about Twenty Years Ago

I was reading that book and decided to track a day trip to San Francisco from Santa Rosa in my car. The trip one way is about 55 miles just to get to the city. Then there is mileage driving around the city and the trip back. The mileage was 130 miles total.  My car at that time only got about 12 miles to the gallon. At 130 miles that's around 11 gallons at $1.25 a gallon for about $13.75. Then there's parking in a few different expensive garages. $20 for parking. Figure wear and tear on the car and tires. The IRS in those days (1996) allowed $0.3 per mile. That's $40.30. This was 21 years ago by the way.

  • Gas: $14 (1996 prices)
  • Parking: $20
  • Mileage allowance: $40
  • TOTAL: about $74


According to the US National Average Wage Index:

Average income per year in 1996: $25,913

Average monthly income: $2,159

Average hourly wage: $13.50


The Shocking Truth

Estimated life energy cost of the trip to San Francisco: 5.48 hours.

Do this calculation for yourself and then…

Ask Three Questions

  • Was the expenditure worth the life energy spent?
  • Was the expenditure in alignment with my goals and purpose of my life?
  • Could the expense change if I didn't have to work for a living?

Most of us don't have any idea how much of our life energy we are spending every day. We might spend it differently if we knew the real cost of some of our expenditures. This isn't about guilt (a useless emotion), it's about awareness.      


Question: After you have done this life energy experiment, what are your conclusions? Leave your answer in the comments below.


Story of the Photo & Credits: Nicola Vetter
We met this friendly man on a trip to the Hippie town Nederland in 2015 - he has surely made the calculation ;-).

by Peter Axtell | Wednesday, May 24, 2017 | Retirement

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