Friday, September 13, 2013

Budgeting your time and energy

I bought a personal finance software not too long ago, ironically on a website that sells computer games - the infamous "Steam". As usual, my day begins by checking out on the latest offer on the gaming website. Sometimes, they sell games at 50% or even 75% discount. Even though I play games much less frequently now (I prefer to read, if anything), I still want to be in the know in that industry. It's out of interest, and also because it gives me some talking point to create rapport with my students. More of the former than the latter. Anyway, steam gave an offer I simply could not refuse. Instead of the recommended retail price of 60 USD, it's selling at 15 USD - a whopping 75% discount. Hoot lah, I say.

I knew of this software, aptly named You Need A Budget or affectionately called YNAB by users, from Drizzt. If you subscribe to his facebook and twitter, he'll have this automated post every now and then coming up saying that you'll get more confidence from savings. Yes, but no need to make that an automatic post right?! (haha, 50% joking, 50% poking to Drizzt)

Budget your time - taken from

But this is not a review of that software. It's a little premature to give a review when it's less than a month since I bought and used the software. Perhaps by the end of this month I'll give my thoughts on YNAB and how it can benefit people who haven't got a clue as to where their money flows to, and to others who had been tracking their expenses fastidiously (like me) on excel spreadsheet.

I've never put myself in a budget before, so using the software makes me think of a few things related to budgeting. To budget is to realise that you have a resource that is scarce and precious, hence you have to proportion it to different places in the manner most beneficial. It's a subjective exercise and nobody can say that his or her budget is better than yours. Even though I say that, there's clearly a line between a good budget and a foolish one. If you budget until your spending far exceeds your income, that's obviously a foolish one (You have to wonder why certain governments can make such foolish mistakes when they budget their country's wealth). On the other hand, if your budget makes you save and save without spending proportionally, that's also a foolish one, though it takes a little more insight and wisdom to see why and that's out of the scope of this post (but it also makes you wonder if our govt is following such a roadmap).

Question: Have you ever thought about budgeting your time and energy?

For a large part of my life, from my student days to the first few years of my working life, it's like this:

Career & Money : 80%
Body & Health: 5%
Spiritual: 0%
Family and friends: 15%

Career, when I'm a student, is simply about being a good student. I seldom do sports unless I have to and you can't really say that I'm taking good care of my health. It's hard to define spiritual aspects of my life, perhaps you can say it's religion, perhaps it's also a bit more than religion. The best definition I can give is this: that which gives you peace and happiness. Needless to say, for most part of my life, it's quite tumultuous. Almost never spent a single dime of energy and time towards the betterment of my spiritual self. Family and friends are not a big part of my life. I'm quite a loner.

Let's look at now:

Career & Money : 60%
Body & Health: 20%
Spiritual: 0%
Family and friends: 20%

There's a greater shift of my energy/time towards body and health. I try going to the gym at least once a week. I haven't passed my IPPT since like 5 or 6 yrs ago (used to be silver, alas..) and now I'm working towards passing. Never felt fitter in my life than at this point in time, and I realised that the benefits of having a better body/health spills over to other aspects of my life too. Still not a party person, but the increase from 15% to 20% in "Family and friends" means that I spent quite a bit of time with my wife. As I get older, I realise that you have less and less friends, but you have more and more intense friendship. Good trade-off if you ask me.

How true! - taken from

Ideally, my time/energy should be allocated like this:

Career & Money : 25%
Body & Health: 30%
Spiritual: 25%
Family and friends: 20%

Remember, there's no right or wrong budget. Your budget best reflects your life and only you can clearly define them. I'll try to work towards this budget of my time and energy and this should be the workplan for the "middle age" of my working life. You can see that I really wanted to spend more time and energy on developing my spiritual self - something that I've been neglecting. Health should take a bigger priority of my life and career/money, well, let's just say that something has to pay the bills while you're still alive. More time and effort should be spent doing the things that you like. Hopefully, that's work, lol!


Mr 15 HWW said...

Hi LP,

The governments/politicians are not foolish. Only by overspending can they garner votes and retain their seats (jobs) which enable them to have a bigger budget in their personal lives.

Good that you are spending less of your most precious resources at work. (p.s: think the last set of numbers exceed 100%?)

I am also spending too much time at work. Hopefully, I will be able to transition soon to my ideal allocation as shown below:

Work: 20%
Body & Health: 25%
Self-improvement and Alone Time: 30%
Friends & Family: 25%

la papillion said...

Hi 15 HWW,

Haha, you're right! Thanks for the pointing it out - I promptly edited the figures and it's now updated.

I guess you're right. If people are voting politicians who care about short terms gains but long term suffering, then I guess a lot is wrong about society in general. Those who have the political resolve to change it will be voted out, I suppose. Takes a real disaster to shake out all these wrong doings, unfortunately.

Thanks for sharing your allocation :) Though I think it'll more instructive to see your current and your ideal allocation to see what's the changes needed ;p

Singapore Man of Leisure said...


Posts like these reminded me why I came here in the first place 3 years ago ;)

Looking back, you sure have evolved from those early stock charts posting days!

The tavern master is in the house!

la papillion said...


Thanks for your encouragement :) I'll try to write a lot more often. I think I have quite a bit of things to reflect/share/blog - all the same to me :) It's when I'm blogging that I'm thinking and reflecting about issues, haha

CreateWealth8888 said...

ideal allocation = financial independence. No?

la papillion said...

Hi bro8888,

You got me thinking for quite a while there.

I think following an ideal allocation can be a result of reaching financial independence (FI) and it can also be achieved without reaching FI. It depends on what kind of allocation right?

But I can't deny that reaching FI would making achieving the ideal allocation much easier. Imagine now that you don't have to spend so much time doing the work you now do (and for most pple, that takes up almost the entire day and some, even weekends), you'll have a lot more time to spend on other aspects.

Having said that and knowing that reaching FI is not easy, do you think that this is just doing all the work now so that in the future you'll have less work to do? Work hard so that next time can play hard? haha

Anonymous said...

Why no happiness category?

la papillion said...

Hi anon,

Happiness is the outcome of many things, including a healthy body, a good job, spiritually healthy and having good relationship with family & friends. By placing emphasis on happiness, you might never get it. Rather than that, I'd rather focus on the things that might bring happiness. Those are the things that I've listed out.