[This post is the final in a three-part series on making sure the work of a working mother is a blessing to her family. Part of blessing her family is through fiscal responsibility with the extra income. Read the first and second posts.]
Budgeting is like dieting – if you’re too restrictive, it’s easy to cheat and then fall wildly off the wagon. Oh, the guilt!
The solution in our house: Personal Spending Money.
On the first of every month we each get a set amount of cash. It’s built into our budget, just like a bill. That money is used for anything and everything we want, things both big and small. Latte’s, nail appointments, mountain-climbing gear, clothes, lunch at work…you get the idea. All those things that have the potential to bust your budget or throw you off track. I even saved up and bought my DSLR.
This strategy works well in our house for several reasons.
It keeps discretionary spending predictable. Five dollars here, thirty dollars there…if you’re not careful you can make it to the end of the month and realize you spent $900 on Starbucks & Qdoba (totally possible). When you wallet’s empty, your money is gone. The end.
It allows you to spend without guilt. Indulging yourself isn’t going to throw you off of your financial goals – the money was already spent when you pulled it out of the ATM.
It keeps things equitable. In our family I am the one who is a little more…anxious…about money matters. Early in our marriage my husband would occasionally buy lunch at work, so unbeknownst to him I would compensate by reducing my own discretionary spending to make sure the account balance ended up where it needed to be. No big deal, but eventually I started to feel like I got the raw end of the deal. It might seem shallow, but I can see how over the long-term that could cause resentment. Personal spending money has allowed us to each enjoy our individual hobbies and indulgences without negatively impacting our spouse, marriage, or financial life. [BTW, I totally get that not everyone will love this one. I know marriage isn’t necessarily 50/50, love keeps no record of wrongs, etc…but this is still what works for us.]
I highly recommend incorporating some personal spending money into your budget. Depending on your circumstances, you may each get $20 or $2000 each month. Work it out with your spouse and your bank account. Enjoy the fruits of your labor and allow yourself some level of indulgence without guilt!
How do you manage discretionary spending?