Monday, March 8, 2010

Determining Our "Allowances"

As a few of my last posts mentioned, my husband and I get $75 each every month for “fun” money and $100 to use jointly for date nights or other shared entertainment expenses.  Coming up with this system actually took us a few years. 

The idea of an “allowance” was a turn off in our early twenties.  We thought we were frugal enough that we would just naturally choose not to spend much.  That lasted for a while until I realized that I wouldn’t allow myself to buy anything and I resented my husband’s big purchases.  I’d buy gifts for others, but I kept putting off everything I really wanted (like a pair of discounted Crocs for $30 or even a new pair of $15 jeans).  Then I’d see hubby spend $100 on Magic: The Gathering and feel like the world was ending. 

I think I was somewhere between a nag and an outright b…well, you know.  That’s when my husband insisted on a new system and I whole-heartedly agreed.

We decided that we’d get allotted “fun” money and I’d stop critiquing those purchases.  We chose a total of $250 a month since it would work based on our current spending and that $100 of it should be put aside since we go out together frequently and didn’t want to handle a silly “who’s paying” situation. 

Since then, I’ve developed a healthy addiction to Shirt Woot and a slightly annoying addiction to ABC Distributing…I never knew how much I craved cheap junk…seriously, I have to watch myself.  I still don’t come anywhere near my $75 limit, but I don’t freak out anymore when I decide to splurge a bit (like my $35 work Crocs or my $11-$16 funny shirts).

My hubby saves up for a few months, spends it all, and starts over.  It seems to keep him happy although I know he wishes he had more than $75 to work with…maybe after one of us gets a raise. 

I try much harder to accept his 60,000 MtG card collection and I’m even supportive of his new obsession with Curling. 

All I can say is allowances aren’t just for kids anymore…which is ironic since I never had one then either.  :-)

What system do you use?  How do you successfully budget in the fun?  LOL...shameless plug...


  1. My wife and I have allowances too. It is direct deposited into separate checking accounts each pay period. You get to spend it on whatever you want, no questions asked. Right now, she gets $150 a month and I get $45. I'm a little better at controlling my impulses.

    I like the idea because it's easier to budget that way and helps to keep a lid on random spending. Everytime I get a raise, we get a raise. Not much, maybe $5 or $10 more per month, but it's nice to get extra.

  2. My husband and I get allowances direct deposited into our accounts every pay period. It is actually $100 a pay period, and we actually have 26 pay periods in a year so it ends up a little over $200 a month. I usually just round it to 200 so it is more manageable in our budgeting, though.

    We haven't raised or lowered the allowance amount because it seems ample enough even though my husband and I have both gotten several large promotions since we've been married.

  3. MikeS, I never thought about having an unequal allowance. As silly as it is (that I hadn't even thought of it), that could solve my husband's problem. I don't have many hobbies and he has a ton. I could just lower my amount to $50 and raise his to $100 and maybe that would solve his money issues...


  4. Julie, I understand the hassle of 26 pay periods...hubby has 24 and I have 26, so we budget monthly and are just happy during the two months that I get an extra paycheck.

    We also haven't changed our amounts for a couple of years, but we were thinking about doing so when he gets his new job. He just doesn't feel like $75 is covering everything he wants...because it's not. Like I posted above, if I just lower my amount a little and raise his a little, we should be fine.

  5. Our difference came about due to tighter finances a couple years ago. I have just never brought mine back up as much. There isn't a whole lot that I want, so it's not that big a deal.

    I like your idea of readjusting your allowances, especially if you don't need the money yourself.

  6. Great stuff, now we'll have to sit down and set an actual number for our allowances. I try to keep my spending to $25/week, but sometimes I'll spend less, sometimes more. We have joint accounts and can see each others purchases, the only time we discuss 'fun money' is if a single purchase is more than $25. We should probably organize it some more.

  7. MikeS, I talked about this with my husband and he seems fine with the idea (ok, who didn't see that coming?) our allowances are officially changed. This won't actually change much of anything since he just started Curling recently, but it will come in handy when the new league starts. I haven't hit the $50 a month since we started, so I should be fine as well.

  8. Shantall, hi girl! Yep, I'd do a sit down and talk about all your goals and the best way to get there. You'll love knowing that you're on the same page and I bet your hubby will appreciate the serious communication, right?

  9. i wouldn't lower your spending money to raise his. there will come a time when you want something really badly and it will be unexpected. then you will resent him all over again. I would keep it equal.

    then when you have a huge amount saved for yourself ($1000) or whatever, then give him money as a present every once in a while, but keep the amounts the same. this way, when you find a new hobby yourself, he won't have to scale back. if he wants more money now and it's equal, then he should get a 2nd job or work overtime or something, but you shouldn't have to give up your money just b/c you aren't spending it on anything right now. I'm sure you saving some of your spending money was giving you comfort and now you don't have that.

    Even if your "something" special comes up and he agrees to let you get it out of the bill money, then that opens the door to him doing the same. then you're off track again. Just something to think about.

  10. Anon, I see where you're coming from and thanks for looking out for my side of it.

    You may see from our budget that my husband does have a side job as a sports official that brings in about $4000 a year...he just adds it to the rest of our money. That's why I felt okay with having unequal amounts...he's pretty much funding both of our fun money accounts anyway. :-)

    But, I also thought about the whole resentment thing when I was setting up our fun money accounts in ING last week. So, we talked and figured out trying something a little different than what I mentioned in this post.

    Since our vacation account was at $4500 and our average vacation only costs $2000, I seeded our fun money accounts with $500 each.

    We also decided that instead of dividing extra money at the end of the month evenly between savings and our vacation account that we'd put 50% to savings, 25% to the vacation account, and split the other 25% between our two fun money accounts.

    Between this extra money and the $500 seed money, my husband is happy and can see when he drops below the $500 mark. Then he knows he has to lay off for a while while it builds back up. Since he spends in big spurts, this should help keep everything above board without any overdraft fees.

    What do you think?

  11. My DH sounds just like yours (except for the curling, though he has had more bizarre temporary hobbies). The way we do it is he has an allowance and I just don't bother since I don't tend to spend much and when I do I don't feel guilty. He gets a set amount each week and a lump sum at Christmas and his birthday that's 10x his weekly amount. Also, if he has to call up a company to negotiate a lower bill or a billing mistake, he gets some percentage of that since we both hate complaining on the phone.

    Too bad you all are in Houston rather than College Station-- you sound like fun people and DH loves eurogames and potlucks (he introduced them to the A&M gaming club when we moved here).

  12. Anon, we actually live in Spring...College Station isn't too far away. :-)