When I left off we were talking about mortgages. Doing math is good. Being intentional about how much you spend on housing is good. I love my home, and I love that my husband is meticulous with our spending. But today I want to talk about a more fun category in our fixed expenses list: his and hers money.
Everyone always talks about how the biggest fights couples have are over money. I don’t doubt that. Thankfully Andy and I have managed to avoid that pitfall. I can’t pinpoint exactly how, and I don’t have a cure-all to prescribe. I will suggest, though, that you earmark a little bit of your money every month for each of you to spend however you please. Even when money is tight, it’s super important for your quality of life to have a little bit of fun money. This can be $5 that allows you to buy a soda once a week, or it can be a couple of hundred that allows you to buy an iPad. I don’t think there’s a magical amount that makes this principle work—it’s the concept that counts.
I’ve read on some other personal finance blogs about couples who share their fun money. I can see how that might be necessary if you’re really pinching pennies to make ends meet. I still think having a little bit of wiggle room is better than having none at all—but to me the real beauty of fun money is not talking to your spouse about it and truly being able to spend it on whatever you want with no judgment.
I find I spend a majority of my hers money on food and coffee. I really like lattes, and even though I have a milk frother at home, it’s just not the same. Also, eating lunch out is one of my little pleasures (I know, I know, says the girl who has blogged about bringing her lunch.) Also, I like to shop. I passed a Marshall’s on my way home from work every day for 2 ½ years, and I stopped there with somewhat embarrassing frequency “just to browse.” I also buy a lot of Kindle books, especially when they hit $1.99.
My husband’s spending tends much more toward the electronics spectrum. We let balances carry over in the his and hers categories, one of the few places we do that, so if we spend under our budgeted amount in a given month the amount we were under gets added to the next month’s amount. It’s possible to end up with a pretty hefty chunk in there, and he’s more likely than I am to spend very little for a few months and then buy a bigger-ticket item.
But the beauty of budgeting fun money is that, as long as you stay within your budgeted amount, everything is fine! You don’t have to feel guilty. I only know what Andy buys because we record our purchases in YNAB, not because we’ve necessarily talked about it. Budgeting for his and hers money allows us each to indulge our own natural spending habits without breaking the bank AND buy ourselves things we enjoy, whatever those things may be.
Willpower is a muscle, and you can also use up your daily reserves of self-control by presenting yourself with too many decisions to make. Having some money in your budget, even a joint budget, that is just for you, to spend however you want, with no conequences, is a relief.
Like I said, I won’t say this is a magic bullet to never fighting about money, but I’d like to suggest that it sure can’t hurt!