My wife did something this week that she hasn’t done in a very long time. She’s always been one who is very good at drawing the line between needs and wants. She buys the needs, and only rarely gets a want. But this week, she totally splurged and paid a lot of money for something that she didn’t need: A cute little coat. And what’s even more strange: she felt totally good about it!
It was Thursday. Someone came into her work wearing a cute coat from Nordstrom’s. She got off work, went to the (fairly expensive) clothing store, and bought herself a coat. And if you knew my wife, this is totally abnormal behavior. She’s always felt a strong sense of guilt for buying things for her that we didn’t need. But she didn’t feel the least bit of guilt that day. Why? Because we follow a budget. And in that budget we include a little something called “Fun Money.”
In our budget, among many others, we have two categories: “His Fun Money” and “Her Fun Money.” We take this fun money rather seriously. We can use our respective fun money funds for absolutely whatever we want, without having to give any explanation at all. We budget a mere $15 per month into each of these two categories. Our budget software uses envelope budgeting so any amount that we don’t spend in a category during one month gets rolled over into the next month. This way we can “save up” in categories for Vacations, Car Repair, Insurance, and yes, even Fun Money.
I think this a practice that everyone should incorporate into their budgets. It allows you save up money (even just a little each month) and use it for those things that you want, but that normally wouldn’t “fit in the budget.” Too often, if you don’t budget for “fun” like this, something always comes along that you “really” want and you end up going over your monthly budget to get it. You need to budget for fun and entertainment or else you’ll soon grow to hate your budget and all the restrictions that it stands for. But a budget isn’t a restriction — a budget is a tool to help you afford the things you really need and want.
So when my wife said “I love fun money!” while modeling her new (and I’ll admit, very cute) coat, what she was really saying was “I love our budget!” Try it out. Make sure to budget for fun and you’ll soon find that your budget is your best friend.