How are you spending your money & Life Energy? (And how I spend mine)

This is an on-going series on my journey to financial Freedom. You may want to read these before you continue with this one:

If you do STEP 2 (Tracking Your Life Energy + Record Your Spending), you will have some basic information in hand already to do today’s calculation.

You would have already found out:

  • how much you’ve earned in your life
  • know much you are really earning per hour
  • know your recent income and expenses
How much Life Energy (hours of work) do you spend on things that are important to you?

WHAT WILL YOU DO?

This is Step 3 (Convert money into Life energy). You will:

  1. Create spending categories that is unique to your life (called ‘Monthly Tabulation’ in the book)
  2. Find out how much Life Energy you spend on them

It means that you will finally realise what you are spending on, what is important to you, and eventually give you a consciousness to spend on what gives you maximum happiness.


WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?

I have read a lot of finance books, but none had make me want to follow and write an entire series about it. I think that’s because I never wanted money for money sake. I don’t want to save and invest for more money…for what?

This books makes me more aware of what is important to me, and how I want to spend my money for maximum fulfilment.

For example, I am now aware that I have a tendency to spend on fashion stuff. But I realise it is not in line with my true value. I want to spend it more on people I care about, education to improve my mind, and giving back to the society.

Everyone has different priority. I will share with you mine today.

FINDING CATEGORIES FOR YOUR LIFESTYLE

  • Food
  • Housing
  • Clothing
  • Transportation
  • Technology
  • Entertainment

You may want to refine your categories:

  • Food: Groceries, Restaurants, Coffee
  • Transportation: Petrol, Car Maintenance, Car Wash
I created categories that suit my lifestyle and put in in my Money Lover app.

MY SPENDING CATEGORIES

This is my personal spending categories:

BUSINESS A big part of my spending is for my business. As a small business owner of a cooking school, for convenience, I do not have separate account for my business (for now). It includes groceries for my class, website maintenance, etc.


HOUSEHOLD I’m very blessed that I live with my family and they handle the household. So for me, this is rent, food, groceries, utilities in one. So the bulk of my expenses goes here too.


FOOD: Dining Out I work from home and my business involves eating lunch with my guests. Groceries that I buy is under business and my mother do the groceries for my family so its under ‘household’. So under FOOD, it will be paying for my meal when I eat out.


FRIENDS & LOVERS When I treat my friend for a meal or buy ingredients to cook for my family, it doesn’t go under ‘FOOD’ but Friends & Lovers category. This category are things that I spend on for people I care about e.g birthday present, wedding angpao


TECHNOLOGYThis will be my subscription to Flickr, iTunes, Evernote etc. My new iPhone too is under this category. 

EDUCATION I believe in continuous education. I attend classes e.g cooking classes when I travel and I buy subscription to Japanese 101 to learn Japanese. Any books & stationery that I buy for painting/calligraphy is under this category.


FASHION: Necessary or fun You can divide your clothing into: necessary, special occasion and work. For me, it’s either necessary or fun.

  • Necessary
  • Fun

BEAUTY Unfortunately, this is a rather big category for girls. I wanted to know precisely what I spend on so I created these sub-categories:

  • Makeup
  • Dermatologist
  • Hair
  • Nails

HEALTH If you go for a massage because you’re too tired at work, it should be under work related category. For me, massage is for health maintenance so its under this category (unless I go because work is too tiring).

  • Massage
  • Personal care
  • Supplements
  • Medical e.g doctor/ Traditional Chinese Medicine treatment
  • Sports equipment 
  • Insurance

Yours could include gym membership, personal trainer. 


ENTERTAINMENT This is what I do for fun. This includes, movies at the cinema, drinking at a bar, tickets to concerts and theatres.
For you it may include video games, vape, etc.


TRANSPORTATION: While I can drive and have been doing that for more than a decade, I haven’t been for the last 3 years. So my expenses is MRT and GRAB Taxi.

CHARITY/ SPIRITUALThis includes tithe for my church and donation to charity.


HOLIDAY It includes accommodation, flights, food, entrance tickets, etc. Shopping for clothes goes under fun. If I attend a cooking class, it goes under ‘Education’

When you are doing yours, the advise from the book is “Be honest and precise without being overly fussy”.

Education is an important category to me. I like to spend on classes, books, and educational subscriptions.

How to calculate?

This is my spending categories. I feel that mine is rather unique because I:

  • Work from home
  • Love my work
  • I’m a minimalist/stoic (not a typical consumer)
  • I have accumulated many things that I needed/wanted before so there’s very little spending needed now

Here is the outline of my chart. I have it tabulated in an excel sheet:

Revealing my thoughts on money online is already quite scary. So I’ll just give an example of a simple (not real) calculation assuming my REAL hourly wage is RM 100 per hour.

HOURS OF LIFE ENERGY = Total / Real Hourly Wage

HOURS OF LIFE ENERGY SPEND ON FRIENDS & LOVERS = RM 1000/ 100 = 10 Hours


My Monthly Tabulation Chart:

EXPENSESTOTAL $HOURS OF LIFE ENERGY
BUSINESS
HOUSEHOLD
FOOD
FRIENDS & LOVER100010
TECHNOLOGY
EDUCATION
FASHION
BEAUTY
HEALTH
ENTERTAINMENT
TRANSPORT
CHARITY/ SPIRITUAL
HOLIDAY

I have personalised my spending categories in The Money Lover app. So it’s easy to see what I spend most on that particular month.

WHAT I REALISE FROM MY MONTHLY TABULATION

  1. I may not be spending enough on things that makes me feel fulfilled I have put Education a separate category as I believe in continue to sharpen my mind. Because of this, I have decided to spend some money attend Japanese classes. I have also spend a lot more on family and friends – treating them for meals and buying souvenirs.
  2. I am still spending on fashion goods although I am trying to cut back on it I thought I didn’t shop much, but one basic UNIQLO shirt here and another bag I ordered from a friend who was holidaying in Paris a few months ago showed up…
  3. Fashion items are relatively expensive! I realise that fashion items cost a lot more than other things that makes me happy. For example, I need a new pair of sunglasses soon; even though I decided not to buy high-end glasses that I used to, it is still 5x more expensive than my subscription to a podcast to learn Japanese or the same price as a 3 months Japanese course.
  4. Another important value to me is church and giving back to society. But my spending does not reflect that. So I will increase my tithe/donations and found an orphanage near my home where I can give some support.

I bought heaps of Japanese snacks for my family & friends from my last travel because buying gifts to make my loved ones happy makes me feel fulfilled.

SHOULD I DO IT MONTHLY?

Once you have a chart, the book recommends that you do this monthly. If you still are not sure of your spending and what is important to you, do it.

I don’t put it in a chart. But I am able to see my spending in categories and percentage in Money Lover app.


For me, I only did it once in an excel sheet as my spending is quite consistent (I have figured out what is important to me in life). Besides, since I read stoic philosophy and became a minimalist, I have been spending money on things that are important to me.

I merely wanted to:

  1. Create categories that suits my lifestyle (and personalised these categories in my Money Lover App)
  2. Find how much Life Energy I spend on these categories
  3. Evaluate how important they are to me (STEP 5)

As I have it keyed in my spending in Money Lover app, I generally know how much money and Life Energy I spend in each category.

At this stage of my life (single person who lives with family), everything is quite stable. I know my monthly tabulation wouldn’t be too different from month to month. I will only redo this to valuable my fulfilment if/when I go to another phase of my life e.g marriage/ kids

But if you still have not trained yourself to spend wisely, do it monthly.

At this stage of my life (single person who lives with family) and run a small business from home, everything is quite stable. I do not do this monthly. However, I generally know how much money and Life Energy I spend in each category via Money Lover app.

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO NEXT: What are YOU spending on?

  1. Come up with categories that are unique to you
  2. Create a table in an spreadsheet (e.g Google Docs)
  3. Fill in the table: spending & life energy

Next we are going to find out whether you are getting satisfaction from your spending (STEP 4 of FIRE) from your spending. So do this homework first!

But first you will need to have a records of your spending. I suggest using an app such as Money Lover app. I’ve spoke with them for a discount for my readers:

70% DISCOUNT CODE FOR MONEY LOVER APP

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