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Monday, August 1, 2011


The other day Tsh, the Simple Mom, asked a great question on Facebook:

...What is the ONE most important thing you do to simplify your life? It can be big (such as living without debt) or small (such as using automatic bill pay). And you can define "simplify" to mean whatever works for your family.

And I answered:
Having clearly defined goals and values and doing what it takes to support those (debt-free living is key to that for us).

Your Money or Your Life, family budgeting, life energy, values and goals, life purpose, simple mom, simplify
That has got me thinking a lot because it's right in line with what Michael and I have been discussing lately.  We started this workbook called Your Money or Your Life, and it is so life-changing.  It has gotten us to consider what our values and life purposes or goals are and is causing us to start to live in such a way as to support those values and goals.

So you might think this is lame, but Michael and I are nerds, so we think it's fun - but we've been using our date nights to go through the workbook while we have babysitting (it's too hard to do while distracted by three needy little boys).  It's been so eye-opening for us.

One important step in the process is to determine your "life-energy":
Our life energy is our allotment of time here on earth, the hours of precious life available to us. When we go to our jobs we are trading our life energy for money. You could even say that money equals our life energy. So, while money has no intrinsic reality, our life energy does — at least to us. It’s tangible, and it’s finite. It is precious because it is limited and irretrievable and because our choices about how we use it express the meaning and purpose of our time here on earth. Money is something you consider valuable enough to spend easily a quarter of your allotted time here on earth getting, spending, worrying about, fantasizing about or in some other way reacting to.  (Source)
And in practical terms, life energy is basically what you make per hour minus every single work related expense (things you wouldn't pay for if you didn't have to work) including taxes.

The most powerful step in the YMOYL process so far for me was to determine our life purposes/goals and values.  We kind of had an idea of what they were, but clearly stating them and knowing what we're about really has given us a roadmap and a compass for our life journey.  No more flailing because we can just ask, "Does this align with our values and life goals?"

These are ours (although keep in mind that yours don't have to be the same):


Thinking deeply about life
Healthy living
Accomplishment/Hard Work
Creative expression
Meaningful friendships

Life Goals and Purposes
Life experiences with our family
To have a connected family with shared values
To be available for use by God in whichever way He sees fit 
So it's one thing to say, "I want to spend $X on a new such-n-such."  But it's a new way of thinking when we say, "Do I want to spend X hours of my life energy on a new such-n-such?"  Well, if it's going to support our values and goals, then the answer can be yes.  But if it's in contradiction to our values and goals, then I'd hope that the answer would be an obvious no to us.

We just decided the other day to spend a week in Colorado because it definitely supports our values and goals.  But it's possible that we could turn our vacation into something that doesn't line up with our values and goals, and if that happens, then it is a big, fat waste of time, money, and life energy.  If we indulge in things on our trip that don't support our goals and values - like excessive shopping, poor eating, sedentary activities - then we've wasted a whole bunch our life energy.

So in our day to day lives with our regular budget, if we're spending $300 a month on going out to eat but not spending any money at all on active recreation or healthy food, then we've missed our mark since we value healthy living.  I could keep coming up with examples, but you get the point.  ;)

Anyway, this has been totally amazing and life-changing for me and Michael, and I highly recommend it to everyone!  (And no, no one asked me to tell you that, just my opinion.)  Let me know if you decide to do it!  I'd love to hear your insights!


  1. Great post! We have been getting really focused on our goals and are inching toward a debt-free life as well, we really did have to change the way we thought about the things we "needed" sad to say but most of them were just wants and did nothing to add to our true value of life...I can't wait to tell the hubby about your recomendation..I'll keep you posted!

  2. I know this post was written a long time ago, but I have to say that it struck my heart and has been running through my mind since the first time I read it. I say the first time because I've come back dozens of times to read it again, I've paraphrased it for my friends, and I've referred many people to this post. I want to thank you for writing this; it's really amazing how what the Lord is doing in one life can really bless someone else's. So, I want to say thank you for opening up my eyes to some problems with how I spend my "life energy." I'm indebted to you more than you probably realize.
    Thank you!

    1. That's awesome! You totally made my day. I'd love to hear how it's working out in your life. Thanks for sharing!!!


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