It’s Your Life Energy, Use It Wisely!

Time is a valuable commodity that we never seem to have enough of. The older we get, the more complicated life appears to become and the less time we have for ourselves.

Growing up in the Dominican Republic

I had all of my time to myself as a child growing up in the Dominican Republic (DR) until school started. That’s when time began to slip through my fingers. We only went to school for half a day in the Dominican Republic, either in the morning or afternoon. It was convenient enough for me to help with housework and then go play with my neighborhood friends or watch Chespirito or my favorite cartoons.

We were poor, very poor, literally dirt poor back home. We didn’t move to a better home with concrete floors until I was about five or six years old. My parents had an excellent work ethic. They worked all day in their convenience store to provide basic necessities. My middle siblings helped raise the younger ones, including me, while they worked. The older children assisted at the convenience store.

Despite the fact that I didn’t have many toys as a child, I was a happy child who could make an annual Christmas toy last a lifetime. There was no such thing as throwing away a toy just for the sake of throwing it away. My toys would tear and I would mend them. I’d keep playing with them until I couldn’t think of anything else to do with them.

We had more time because we owned less

While money was scarce, we always made time to eat dinner together at the table and spend the weekends doing social family activities. Sundays were special occasions. Everyone would dress up, go to church, and enjoy visits from family and friends. We didn’t have much material stuff, but we were truly happy.

Toys became more plentiful after arriving in the United States at the age of 12. But I noticed that I had even less time to play than I did back in the Dominican Republic. School time stretched from morning to afternoon, and our lives became busier with the “go-go-go” pace of the United States. What happened to my leisure time? Was this a normal part of growing up?

My life became even busier as I grew older. Everything seemed to be fighting to fit into my schedule and occupy my time from middle school to college. Time seemed to be beyond my control.

Looking back, I realized that the American way of life can be time-consuming. We become so preoccupied with earning a living that we forget to live and appreciate what we have. I lived that busy life until I realized that we have far more control than we acknowledge over how we spend our limited time on this precious planet.

We trade time for things and experiences

We trade our time for things and experiences all of our lives. We go through the motions, barely recognizing that most of these things aren’t worth it. Consider the memories in your life that have brought you joy. What if you had more of those priceless moments in your life? My childhood memories are of happy times when I didn’t spend a lot of money and instead did simple things with my loved ones.

How does one make time for the truly happy moments in life in a society that values consumerism so much? We will never be truly happy if we continue to try to fill voids with materialistic possessions. We need to start looking at time and money differently. Money can be used to free up our time for more meaningful life experiences.

Money is your life energy

Joe Dominguez’s definition of money in his book Your Money or Your Life is the most meaningful I’ve come across: Money is your life energy. This is a straightforward but powerful statement. Because you’re spending your life energy, it forces you to consider how to get the most bang for your buck with every dollar spent.

Prioritize how you spend your time

Instead of exchanging time for useless junk that we don’t even have time to use. My wife and I value spending time together and traveling the world over having a huge house that would bind us with a mortgage and draining home-maintenance responsibilities, such as mowing a lawn on weekends.

Every expenditure you make is fueled by your life energy. So, before you part with your life energy, ask yourself if it is the best use of it. I’ve seen people spend an inordinate amount of their life energy on luxuries they only use occasionally. Is it worth it to work all day for a lifestyle you won’t be able to enjoy?

Inefficient use of your life energy

Let’s look at an example of how life energy can be used inefficiently: Tony, a single man, is overjoyed with his new job and decides to buy a $3,000 pool table to entertain his friends. He puts the purchase on his credit card. Tony’s weekly salary is $520.

He’ll need to work at least 6 weeks to pay for this luxury, not including the cost of credit card interest. Was it worth it to give up all of this life energy for a pool table that he’d only use occasionally? Would he have been better off going to a pool hall to play a game of pool upon desire?

He could meet his friends there and save the rest of his money to buy back his time. Why not strive for financial independence and possibly retire earlier?

There are a few things I didn’t account for in the example above, such as the opportunity cost, commute time to work, the extra housing space Tony would need to accommodate the table, and maintenance and moving fees if he were to move in the future.

Spend your money on what brings you the most value

There are numerous other examples of inefficient use of our life energy. It’s simply a matter of eliminating these deficiencies and determining which expenses provide the most value for your life energy. If all you’ve ever wanted in life is a pool table, and this is going to give you the most satisfaction, then go for it! I’m not here to derail your lifelong ambition.

In the pursuit of true happiness, you can have anything you want, but you can’t have everything you want. After all, life is all about making choices.

Spend wisely and take control

When you start spending your life energy wisely, something very empowering begins to happen. You take over as the primary driver of your life. Those actions that appeared to be a part of “destiny” are now in your control.

You start to make decisions based on your own beliefs rather than what society dictates. Money gradually becomes less of a concern in your daily life. Because you know your life energy is at stake, you become immune to advertisements. You start to realize that you don’t need all of the things you thought you needed to be happy.

If you are laid off, you will not have to worry about how you will pay your bills because you will have saved some of the proceeds from your life energy. You could even take some time off and go on vacation before starting a new job. Alternatively, take some time to reflect on your life and prioritize what would truly make you happy.

Finally, remember that the decisions you make in life are entirely within your control. Learn to value your time energy now, and spend it wisely!

What do you do with your life’s energy? Where are you getting the most bang for your buck?


After dedicating 13 years of his career to Vanguard, José retired from the corporate world at the young age of 44. During his tenure at Vanguard, he expertly coordinated the production of both electronic and print educational materials for 401(k) participants. Now, he relishes in his early retirement, cherishing time spent with his family, indulging in his favorite hobbies, seeking out new experiences, and savoring meals in the comfort of his own backyard.

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6 years ago


I read the previous article about discovering the life purpose, and then this one, and am a little confused – did you live in Lithuania or Dominican Republic as a child?

6 years ago
Reply to  Karolina

Hi Karolina,
My wife, Tanya, wrote the article on Discovering Your Life’s Purpose and she lived in Lithuania as a child.
I wrote this article and lived in the Dominican Republic as a child.
Hope that clears up any confusion and thanks for reading! 🙂

Bladimir Mercedes
9 years ago

Powerful stuff here. I wouldn’t know where to star if I had to put a list of the garbage I have spent my life energy on, but it would make the pool table purchase look like an investment. It’s all uphill from now.

9 years ago

LOL about the pool table. You can always turn the ship around and it looks like you figured it out Bladimir. Thanks again for commenting.

9 years ago

I sure hope Tony is not buying that $3,000 pool table on a $13/hr salary! Sadly our “american lifestyle” leads many people (including myself in the past) to make those kinds of poor decisions and waste our life energy.

9 years ago
Reply to  LM

That salary is after all taxes are taken out so Tony believes he makes a lot more. I have made many financial mistakes as well and fortunately learned from them early on. You’re not alone!

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