Apr 9, 2015


Budgeting fun money
I've heard it called "pocket money" or "walking around money."  At our house, we call it "fun money."  It's the cash we budget each month to use for fun and incidental items.  And, it's the kind of budget buffer that makes budgeting possible, month after month.  

Brian and I are both natural savers.  We've never had issues with spending more than we make, but we haven't always lived on a written budget.  When I was a few month pregnant with Eli and we knew that I would switch from full-time employment to being a stay-at-home mama by the next fall, we decided to get serious about making our money work for us.  

In October of 2013, we started living off of Brian's income and banking all but daycare expenses from mine.  To make it work, we had to follow a written plan.  It took some lifestyle adjustment, but it also meant that we were able to ramp up our savings pretty quickly and (as a saver by nature) I loved seeing our account balances go up, up, up.

The sudden shift to a new level of discipline and a much tighter monthly allotment of money could have easily led to frustration and failure.  To give ourselves a bit of wiggle room and allow for some splurge-y items each month, we included a "fun money" category in our budget.

Our fun money budget is $160 each month.  Each of us get $80 in cash at the beginning of the month and it is ours to do with as we wish.  No need to keep receipts or document how it is spent.  No need to feel guilty buying a new book, going out for lunch with friends or buying a clothing item that is outside of the clothing budget.  This little bit of "fun" within our otherwise pretty tight budget does a lot to keep us on track.  

I used to feel guilty about any "extra" thing that I purchased and now I don't.  I am still pretty cautious about what I buy, though.  Eighty bucks really doesn't go that far over the course of a month, so I usually spend some time considering how much I want a just-for-fun item before making the purchase.  It is a good exercise in self control, while still allowing me to buy a few things here and there.  

It is also a relationship helper as it lets Brian and I buy things that are important to us individually, but not priorities for the family.  Without "fun money," I'm pretty sure I would be more begrudging about the money that Brian donates to political candidates.  He would probably feel the same way about the sometimes exorbitant amount that I spend on scrapbook products.

Right now, $15 of my monthly fun money goes to my Happy Mail subscription.  The rest of it usually gets spent on a meal or two out with friends, books or crafting supplies.  

And, I almost always have some left over at the end of the month.  I squirrel that away for a potential future bigger want.  Yesterday, I dug through my leftover fund and pulled out money to buy Elise's Get To Work Book.  I had been telling myself I didn't need it ever since I learned the price, but then I caved.  I counted the money in my extra fund, had plenty and really didn't have anything else that I was planning to purchase with that money.  So I went for it.   

Without our "fun money" buffer, I think we would have a much harder time sticking with our budget.  It is hard to be responsible day after day and month after month.  I sometimes hear people who diet talk about having a weekly "cheat meal."  The concept is the same.  It's an outlet for a bit of fun within the more disciplined framework.  I need that.  

I've mentioned before that I am thankful for our budget.  That is 100% true and the "fun money" category is definitely my favorite part.  

No comments:

Post a Comment