Marital Budgeting: Why My Husband and I Have Allowances
Sometimes for couples giving each other unrestricted "fun money" can be a way to stay within a monthly budget.
Marital budgeting can be tricky to figure out. I used to get frustrated with the way my husband would spend money on things I didn’t find necessary.
“You bought another video game?” I asked, slightly peeved.
“Yep. It’s worth it. I can get hours of entertainment from this one video game. How many balls of yarn have you bought this month?” he countered.
“Well, if we’re using that logic, I should buy tons of yarn, because it takes me about 5,000 hours to knit anything, and I’ll be occupied for the rest of my life,” I joked half-heartedly.
THIS IS HOW WE USED TO MANAGE OUR MONEY – NO PLAN, NO DISAGREEMENT, AND DEFINITELY NO MARITAL BUDGETING.
We just bought whatever we wanted, and generally, with enough money to do it. There was no marital budgeting whatsoever, besides the strategy of winging it. At the same time, I knew our financial resources were finite, and video games weren’t at the top of my priority list.
About a year ago, my husband returned to school and began working part-time.
Our household income dropped significantly, and we had to kick our money management skills into high gear.
We both realized that something needed to change if we were going to stay financially afloat. So I drafted up a budget based on what our fixed expenses were: rent, student loan payments, auto payments — you get the idea.
Next, we came up with our magic number. This was a “fun money” allowance that would give us some wiggle room and autonomy — while keeping us honest.
As you can tell, we both have different ways of spending our “fun money.” We decided to have different accounts. We could spend our “fun money” guilt-free on whatever we wanted with some caveats.
The first rule was how much.
We decided that $120 per person per month worked within our budget.
The second rule for our marital budgeting allowance was that if one of us spent more than our allotted $120 in one month, it would be subtracted from next month’s $120 — no matter what.
The third rule was that any purchases larger than $120 would be discussed beforehand. So far, the only time this has come into play was when my husband wanted to join a recreational hockey league, and when he yearned for a new video game console. Each time, we discussed the pros and cons, as well as areas to cut back on to accommodate the extra purchases.
So far, this system has worked well.
I no longer feel any guilt whatsoever about buying expensive yarn or books, and I don’t worry when my husband comes home with the latest video game. It’s in the budget.
You might think it would be difficult to put limits on our spending, but it’s been a surprisingly straightforward way to approach marital budgeting. We decided to give ourselves a fairly generous amount of “fun money” and to cut back in other areas, like dining out and clothing.
We realized that if our budget hurt too much, we might be more likely to give it up, like we had in the past, when it felt too restrictive.
BY ALLOWING OURSELVES MORE GUILT-FREE FLEXIBLE SPENDING, WE BOTH STAY HAPPY AND WITHIN OUR BUDGET.
Here is one month’s example of “fun money” accounting:
My husband hasn’t noticed the limits imposed on his spending. He says: “I don’t pay much attention to the budget, but I just don’t buy as much because I know we have less income.”
Just being aware that he needed to reduce his spending has been a huge help.
Since the beginning, we’ve both only gone over our limit twice, and we made up for it pronto by spending less the following month.
Bound by our budget and by allocating fun money to ourselves, we’ve been able to free up an extra $200 to put in our savings account each month – something we weren’t able to do before —even while earning a lot more money. Go figure!