How much satisfaction do you get from your spending?

This is the fifth article of my FIRE journey series. You may want to read these before you continue with this one:

YOU WILL NEED: Monthly Tabulation Chart

By now, you will have your monthly tabulation with your spending category and hours of Life Energy Spent. If you still have not make yours, go to STEP 4 and then come back!


  • Look at how much Life Energy each category cost and ask these three questions (in relation on your Life Energy spent): 
    • Did I get fulfilment?
    • Does my spending reflect my values/purpose?
    • How would it change if you didn’t have to work for money
  • Then evaluate your spending by putting (-, 0, +) in the box
    • 0
    • +
  • Make a list of categories with a (-) arrow. These are the category that you find no joy in and is not in line with your values.

We will evaluate my spending on travel (specifically on food) & fashion

I wrote the categories in an excel sheet with these columns: ‘fulfilment’, ‘values’, and ‘if not working’

Say I spend RM 1500 on food when I travel, and RM 300 on clothes on that month. If my hourly wage is RM 100 per hour, it means I spend 15 hours on eating and 3 hours on fashion items.


But before that, let’s talk a bit about your dream….

I’m working on my dream job from home. I get to cook with people from all over the world and occasionally local celebrity in my home kitchen. I spend on achieving my dreams, do you?

What are your dreams?

This part is the most philosophical of all. If you don’t know what makes you feel alive, or not sure of your life purpose, this is going to be a little hard and might take some time.

But it is something worth doing, trust me. I’m speaking as someone who had put much thought into this. I’ve figured out what I want in my life, what things are important to me, and I am currently working on my dream job from home.

But today, we’ll keep it simple. If you want to read more, I highly recommend getting a copy of Your Money Or Your Life.

There is only ONE life. Are you spending on what satisfy you and lead you to your dream?

QUESTION #1: Do you get fulfilment, satisfaction and value in relation to Life Energy spent?

QUESTION: Is your spending bringing you the kind of happiness when you are living your dream?

This is not about the cheap thrill from getting a great discount for that cute pair of shoe or satisfaction from passing a test. We are talking about long-term satisfaction from achieving a dream.

My spending on two sub-categories:

TRAVEL (fun)150015+
FASHION (fun)3003
Does shopping truly makes you happy? Or what you really want is to glow from good health?

EVALUATION: My weakness is pretty things. Especially pretty clothes. My another weakness is over-working that lead to drastic weight loss which leads me to buy more clothes. But what I really want is being healthy which naturally leads to looking good.

So I stopped my knee-jerk reaction of buying more flattering clothes for my figure e.g structured jacket to compensate on my weight loss.

During my last travel, instead of spending on clothes, I spend on food. At home after a tiring day, instead of spending time browsing for clothes online, I rest and do simple exercises like kettlebell swing.

This month, when I achieve my weight goal and unexpectedly toned muscle, I feel soooo good about myself (everyday). This is the kind of happiness that buying a new pair of new skirt cannot do.

CONCLUSION: So yes, eating good and delicious food (especially when I travel) gave me a lot of satisfaction…which led me to my dream. Is it worth 15 hours of my Life Energy? Yes! So it’s a + for “fufillment”. For clothing, because I was spending on something that I didn’t really like, it did not fulfill me so its a -.

Spending time and money on food, health items, resting, exercising, and being with people I love (instead browsing and shopping for clothing) gives me long term satisfaction. I want to be and look healthy! #selfie #nofilter #nomakeup

QUESTION #2: Is this expenditure of my Life Energy reflect my values and life purpose?

QUESTION: Is your spending taking you in the direction of your dream?

My core values/dreams:

My core values/dreams are: loving relationship with family and friends, eating homemade local food, doing work that I love that provides comfortable income, looking fit from good health, pursuit of knowledge and wisdom, and being (as much as I can) environmentally responsible, and giving back. These are things that I want to pursue in life.




TRAVEL (FOOD)150015++

EVALUATION: Traveling with people improves relationships. Trying different food increase my knowledge as a cooking school instructor and food consultant.

What is NOT inline with my values and purpose is ordering that UNIQLO t-shirt that did not fit me (and couldn’t return it) and a new jacket I didn’t really like #regret #impulseshopping. Even though it costed me only few hours of my time in comparison.

CONCLUSION: All in all traveling and dining well fulfils me (+) and in line with my dreams (+). Well-thought of shopping for quality clothing does but impulse shopping does not (-). As for values, I appreciate beauty but not vanity and waste (-)

Meeting chefs and trying out new food not only give me a lot of satisfaction, but is inline with my values [Izakaya Toyo, Osaka]

QUESTION #3: How might this change if I don’t have to work for money?

QUESTION: How might this spending change is you no longer had to make money to support your lifestyle.

The purpose of this is to evaluate how much your job costs you and to make clear distinction between ‘work’ and ‘life away from work’. So in this case, my sample wouldn’t be useful as I work from home and my job doesn’t cost me a lot, and I will still do what I do even if my job doesn’t pay m.

Here’s mine:

If not working, I will spend the same on food and fashion hence it’s a neutral (0).




TRAVEL (FOOD)150015++0

Let’s use Jane’s sample which is more relevant to our purpose here. You can see her monthly chart here “How To Count Your Life Energy (And your REAL Hourly Wage)”


EVALUATION FOR JANE: Jane spend almost RM 1600 monthly on eating out and eating well. Because he working hours are long and her work stressful, she dine at restaurants and order healthy super food like avocado salad.

While it may give her fulfilment and is in line with her values, it is costing her a lot. If she didn’t have to work, her expenses will decrease (hence I put a ” – ” in “IF NOT WORKING” box.

CONCLUSION FOR JANE: While eating healthy fulfils her and is in line in her values, is eating at such expensive restaurants justify 160 hours of her life in a month?

Perhaps if Jane had a job that doesn’t take away all her hours, she would be able to go back home for her Mom’s home-cooked dinner or not be too tired to make lunch to bring to work.

(On the flip side, Jane might truly enjoys dining well, loves her job, believe that spending 160 hours (per month) on food is worth it. This question varies from one person to another. What is worth it to YOU?)

Do you spend a lot on eating out because you have no time to cook?

QUESTION #4: What spending in terms of money and time does not make you fulfil?

Now it’s time to see all the boxes with ( – ) which means it:

  • doesn’t make you feel fulfilled OR/AND
  • not in line with your values and purpose
  • will decrease if you don’t need to work (when you are financially free)

I have controlled my spending for a long time and mostly only buy things that spark joy. So I don’t have much “-” in my categories nowadays(except for some impulse fashion buys or random pretty things e.g cute stationery)

A few years ago when I was still driving, this is my chart:



I don’t enjoy driving. I also try to be as environmental-friendly as I can. So spending on my car e.g petrol, didn’t give me fulfilment (-) or value (-). Hence, I gave up driving completely.

Now I spend on public transport (train and taxi) instead. I could rest and listen to podcast, so it give me fulfilment (+). And it is inline with my values (+), it gives me time to study and it’s better for the environment.

OVER TO YOU: Are you getting fulfilment and life purpose from your spending?

It’s time for you to do your monthly tabulation and evaluate your life. This takes a lot self reflection.

  • In your ‘monthly tabulation chart’ put in three more columns: fulfilment, values, and if not working
  • Key in -, 0, or +
  • If you don’t know what makes you fell fulfilled and your values or purpose, I suggest that you do it monthly
Enjoying a homemade fugu feast at my cousin’s home in Kyoto. Being with people, trying local food, and learning a new languages satisfy me and in line with my values. I will continue working to enjoy this luxury.


Besides making you starting to question/realise what truly makes you happy and your life goals/purpose, you may also realise that:

If you didn’t have to work, life is a lot more cheaper. There is no need to buy expensive work clothes or eat out all the time (So you don’t need as much as you think you need to reach financial-freedom)

Or it makes you realise that you do like your job. Because of your work, you could spend lavishly on travels which is what makes life meaningful.

In short, you will learn to spend on things that matters.

What makes you truly happy? Are you working towards your dream? How would your spending change if you do not have to work because you are financially-free?


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