Over the past few years, we have gotten pretty comfortable with our monthly budget. I have a little spreadsheet that I use to track purchases from our shared account. Sometimes I even make graphs! We have monthly “meetings” where we talk through any money issues. We mutually agree before making any unexpected purchases out of our joint account (e.g., new tires). I only have to check our account about once a week to log purchases and make sure there are no weird charges. We set up most of our bill payments at the beginning of the month to coincide with paydays. Our shared budget has become something of a well-oiled machine. And while I am more than happy to pat us on the back for that achievement, I have to be totally honest:
I am still terrible at budgeting.
And I’m not just saying that because it took us almost three years to finally nail down a functioning budget system. I say that because when it comes to spending my fun money, things are getting just downright ridiculous. For reference, here is a quick run down of all the things that Zach and I have agreed fall into the “fun” category:
Dining out, desserts, and alcohol; Clothing, shoes, and accessories; Entertainment related-spending, including Redbox rentals, video games, movie and event tickets, campsite fees, travel expenses; Home decor; Gifts for each other and our loved ones; Gym memberships, yoga classes, workout accessories; Non-essential beauty/health stuff like haircuts, eye brow waxing, massages, etc.; “Stuff” purchases for ourselves or our house
We each get $100 to spend however we want on the aforementioned fun stuff. And even though our fun money isn’t budgeted down to the cent on a spreadsheet with pretty graphs, we each have to be aware of what we’re spending in our accounts. Because if I spend too much on dining out in the first week of the month, I won’t be able to go see The Great Gatsby later in the month. This is the part–the budgeting for future purchases part–that I haven’t been so great at over the past year or so that we’ve used this system.
Last month, I spent half of my money on dining out and booze and the other half on clothes that I’m not even sure that I like anymore. So far, at the end of every month I’ve been left with anywhere from $10 to $2 in my account and very little to show for it in the way of fun or stuff. (Unless hangovers count as fun?)
It was Kelly’s comment that brought my attention to how out of control I have been with my fun money spending. She is saving some of her fun money to finance a trip to Vegas. When I first read her comment, I thought “Wow, that’s neat, Vegas sounds fun!” Then I realized that at the rate I’m going with my fun money spending, it would probably take me 6 months to save enough money to eat at a buffet in Vegas (with a coupon).
The more I have thought about Kelly’s comment, the more I have realized that I, too, would like to spend fun money on future goals and bigger purchases. Sure, spending fun money the way I have is totally okay. That is what it is for, after all. But I have loftier dreams that can’t be satisfied by blowing my pennies on tacos and brightly-colored scarves. There are things that I want to buy that are way out of my budget.
Namely, I’d like to have a new wardrobe. All of my clothes are weird or old or faded or ill-fitting or boring. While I somehow have miraculously spent about half of my fun money on clothes over the past couple of months, I still dislike almost every article of clothing that I own. This is because I haven’t figured out the best way to buy clothes. I always seem to succumb to picking out something awkward from the clearance rack or buying cheap clothes that fall apart after one wash. Since I’m trying to simplify my life now, I want to create a new wardrobe full of versatile, classic, simple, and high quality clothing. I want getting dressed to be easy, and I want to have nice clothes that last. And there’s no way I’ll be able to buy nice clothes with the $10 leftover in my account at the end of the month.
In the old pre-budget, pre-minimalism days, this would be the point in the story where I would skip on over to my favorite clothing store, swipe that reliable little debit or credit card, add a bunch of new clothes to my closet, and move on with my life. But alas, things are quite different around here. So instead of doing that, I’m going to scrutinize my bank statement and decide what kind of purchases to sacrifice for my goal. I’m going to turn my fun money allowance into a closet full of awesome new clothes–Abby needs a new pair of shoes.
How do you spend your ‘fun’ money? What kind of things are you saving up for? How do you keep yourself in check when it comes to spending on the fun stuff and saving for your goals?