Photo courtesy of Howard and Fran Smith #83749.
Time Is Money or Is Money Time?
In the mid-90s, I stumbled upon a book, called Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. The concept that stopped me in my tracks was on page 54: “Money is something we choose to trade our life energy for.” The authors point out the obvious: Life is finite; we only have so much time on earth. The big idea is, we trade life energy (time we have remaining) for the things we spend our money on, and every single spending decision we make costs something in life energy.
All these years later, the “trading my life” idea still stops me in my tracks. Based on average life-expectancy tables, I have 289,080 hours left on this earth. It’s assumed that we spend half of our lives taking care of ourselves: sleeping, bathing, exercising, etc. That means that, if I live an average life span, I have 144,540 hours left to devote to living. How I spend those hours is up to me.
So how can you determine the value of your life energy as it relates to money? For demonstration purposes, let’s say you’re a digital nomad making an average of $25 per hour and that dinner out or bauble you simply must have costs $50. Logically, you’d calculate that it took two hours of life energy (finite time left on this earth) to earn enough to purchase that experience or item. Right? Not so fast.
Let’s assume your total expenses, some amortized, divided by the number of working hours equal $12 per hour. That means your real hourly wage is $13 per hour. In the scheme of things, that $50 expense cost you almost four hours of your life.
What life-changing sacrifices have you made to live the RV lifestyle? Is there a product that’s worth your spent energy? Share your story with Escapees magazine readers.
Value and Worth Is Personal
Everything’s value and worth is an individual’s call. Exchanging life energy for things we need or want is a personal prerogative. I’ve got to have vehicle insurance and happen to like upscale RV resorts and high-end ingredients in my RV kitchen. With this formula, I know exactly how much of my life energy I’m trading for these necessities or niceties and make an informed choice when I compare insurance plans, book a stay or go grocery shopping.
I’m less inclined to make rash purchases, pick up random trinkets or invest in items that don’t support my home or travel style. It’s simply not worth my life energy.
When I think back to the culling period prior to my hitting the road 17 years ago, I can still remember looking at things and wondering what I was thinking when I whipped out my credit card. When is enough, enough? Are we willing to trade our life energy for more? Do we work hard just to keep up with the Joneses?
Chances are we’ve all returned home from a meal out and felt disappointed. I know I have. That’s why I don’t go out to dinner all that often. For the life energy I have available, I’d much prefer to invite some friends over, mix up a shaker of fancy cocktails, play mood music, prepare a simple, delicious dinner at home and make an evening of it. That not only fulfills my cost/value proposition, but also fuels my life purpose of connecting with others, making a difference and living my passion.
Another example is my purchase of a new computer. It cost a heck of a lot of life energy but makes my life (and my business) so much easier. The value I receive by a faster, more intuitive system and the way it helps me promote my passion makes it a fulfilling, worthy expenditure.
Your purpose, passion and even life-energy situation is simply that—yours and yours alone. If you give it thought, you’ll realize that, consciously or unconsciously, you are making value calls every time you make a purchase (and each time you make decisions).
Conscious Choice; Deliberate Actions
Choosing to live this lifestyle is a huge confirmation of how I want to spend my life energy, my passion and my life’s purpose. It’s a public statement of who I am and what I stand for. Without a stick home, I have low housing overhead. Living in a small space restricts the number of things I can carry around. Having the freedom to live where I want, when I want, allows me to enjoy new environments and experiences. The fuel I purchase to move about is well worth the price, even when it reached $5 per gallon.
While I used to enjoy fancy vacations and expensive wine (who wouldn’t, really), I paid for it in life energy. Today, I’m more satisfied than ever, watching the sunset over a rugged mountain range or body of water, with a thrifty glass of wine and my sweetie by my side. Some people can’t comprehend this logic, but that’s okay. We all must choose. What will it be, your money or your life?