I’m fairly certain that one of the perks of marrying me was that Troy never had to again balance a checkbook, pay bills, or deal with budgets. From the start of our marriage, I’ve dealt with all of that crap. For anyone about to get married, or newly married, I highly recommend having one person be the “head of finance”, but make sure the other spouse is a voting member of the oversight committee. Our committee was disbanded in a hostile takeover from day one, and it’s all been on my shoulder. That’s a lot of weight to carry around!
Something that took incredible growing pains for us to learn was the essential nature of “fun” money. Troy would want to go to the store and get something unhealthy and junky, and would never remember to give me the receipt, and I would get annoyed that our balance was off because of a month’s worth of Snickers bars.
We finally settled on having a monthly allotment of cash for each of us. The other person doesn’t get to say a word about what you spend your money on. For me, that money is spent on pedicures, my once a week latte, and the rest is saved for my annual trip with Jack to see my bestie Anne. Troy spends his on fast food and soda from what I can tell. Barf.
Things that one does not need to spend their fun money on includes: haircuts (since I cut the boys hair, I’m the only one who gets a haircut, but since it’s a fairly essential activity, it comes from the general fund), clothes, shoes, or things that involve all of us or the kid (but I choose to save my cash for our yearly trip so that we can go crazy and do a ton of fun things. And eat donuts).
Throughout our 11 years of marriage (next Friday!), spending money has had many looks and iterations. At first, when I was the only one working and Troy was a struggling “artist” working on movies for bagels and granola bars, spending money was about $15 a month. It wasn’t a lot, but it was ours. When we lived in Los Angeles and I was making a lot more money and when Troy was working (film work can be both fickle and lucrative my friends), the spending money seemed to flow freely. Since Troy worked at least one job a month, spending money did not come out of my paycheck, but rather was a percentage of what he brought home. Some months we felt insanely rich, and other months it was slim pickings.
When we moved back to Washington, and the economy bit us in the ass, we still kept up the concept of spending money, but it was cut down to $5 or $10 a month for most months. When paying rent and eating takes priority, the fun times slowed down considerably. But it was important to both of us to still have that small amount of freedom to do something stupid or save it up for something we really cared about.
So, I always encourage any couple or individual to go the route of spending or fun money, no matter what your budget looks like. It’s not always about the amount, but the act of having something that is “yours”.
How about you? Do you include fun money in your monthly budget?