I’m reading Joe Dominguez’s Your Money or Your Life right now (see an in-depth review of the book at The Simple Dollar), and I am adjusting my thinking about spending AND eating a bit by asking myself some questions from the book before I pull out my wallet or pick up my chopsticks.
YMOYL asks you to calculate what each dollar you spend is worth in terms of your life energy. For example, after subtracting job-related expenses (gasoline, work wardrobe, lunches, and such) from my take-home weekly pay and ADDING on time spent on job-related tasks (unpaid overtime, commuting, job research, decompression, etc.) to the 40 hours I am technically working each week, my adjusted take home pay is only $7/hour. This means that each dollar I spend costs me 8 minutes of my life energy (60 min/$7).
For my nutrition adaptation of this method, I choose a typical exercise that I perform regularly (preferably one I find unpleasantly strenuous or difficult, like running), and figure out how many minutes of that exercise each calorie that I consume needlessly costs me. Running at 6 mph, for example, burns about 100 calories in ten minutes for me, which makes every 10 cheat calories worth a minute of my workout energy.
Original Your Money Or Your Life Questions (geared towards spending decisions)
1. Do I receive fulfillment and value compared to the life energy spent on this?
Are you regularly using and enjoying that boat for which you paid $15,000 (and 2000 life hours), or does it sit in the dock for 350 days a year unused?
2. Is this use of my life energy in line with my values and goals?
If your ultimate goal is to open your own business to would help others, does buying yet another gazingus pin to add to the pile of gazingus pins you don’t have time to use really advance you to that goal?
3. How would this expenditure change if I didn’t have to work?
Would you still need a new wardrobe every year if you didn’t work in a stodgy office setting. How much would you pay for gasoline if your job was one mile away from your house instead of 30?
Modified Your Cookies Or Your Life Questions (geared towards food decisions)
1. Do I receive fulfillment and value compared to the life AND workout energy spent on this food item?
Restaurant meals and processed foods are often overpriced and skimpy on nutrients, as well as being costly in terms of calories (which equal workout energy and time!) compared to healthier homemade fare.
2. Is this use of my workout energy in line with my fitness and health goals?
So you have declared that you want to get your body fat and blood pressure down to a healthy range and bench press 1.5 times your bodyweight. Is that package of Grandma’s chocolate chip cookies in your hand (workout/life energy cost: 45 minutes) the best fuel for your body in this case?
3. How would this expenditure change if I weren’t bored/sad/unprepared/in close proximity to the kitchen/alone/stressed/surrounded by others with poor eating habits/free from accountability?
If you were standing in a room with the full cast of 300 in all their abtastic glory, would you still get that Coke and candy bar from the vending machine?
So when I was about to click on the “checkout” button for a $30 personal finance software package last week, I asked myself if it was worth almost 4 hours of my life energy. Probably not, especially since I already own Money 2007 and realistically wouldn’t keep TWO money programs up to date. And buying redundant software or stuff I don’t actually need won’t get me to my big goals of paying off my car loan early, putting away $5000 in an emergency fund, and saving for a European vacation with my DH.
Likewise, when faced with last night’s fast food chicken dinner at work, I questioned whether I would actually enjoy the mass-produced, deep-fried food as much as my homemade, quasi-gourmet fish taco meal. Was it worth the additional 30 minutes of workout/life energy it would cost me relative to my planned dinner? I also considered whether the Chic-Fil-A platter was taking me toward or away from my goals of lower body fat, lower cholesterol, and accelerated recovery from my cold. Finally, I thought of Monica Brant, a figure model whose physique I think I could attain one day if I really tightened up my diet, and Ilaria Montagnani, the badass instructor of the Forza sword workout DVD, and thought about what choice THEY would make in my situation.
Needless to say, the fries and nuggets lost their appeal after that.
– TTBW P1 B (40 min)
– TT Intervals B – Stationary Bike (30 min)
Calories burned (Polar HRM): 623
M1: 40 g oatmeal, 40 g raisins, 3 egg whites, 1/2 c. sauteed spinach
M2: Pineapple banana soy protein smoothie
M3: 4 oz. sauteed tilapia, 1 c. asparagus veggie mix, 2 corn tortillas, 1 rice cake, 1/2 T. ANPB
M4: 1 peach, 4 oz. tilapia filet, 1 T. ketchup
M5: 5 oz. tilapia, 1/2 tomato, 3 c. mixed iceberg lettuce and spinach salad, 2 T. Kraft Free French dressing
M6: 1 c. light soy milk, 1/2 scoop chocolate protein powder, 1/2 oz. walnuts
Stats: 1586 calories (43% carb/ 39% pro/ 19% fat ; 24.4 g fiber)