The following is a staff writer post from MikeS. He is a married father of 2. So, with the cat, he ranks number 5 in the house. He loves numbers and helping people. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Mike or Crystal.
I recently gave myself a raise, not my salary at work, though that would be nice, but my allowance. As I have mentioned before, my wife and I each receive monthly allowances. This helps us to stay on budget, as wants are paid for via allowance money for the most part and needs come from the household budget. I have been finding recently that my allowance is too small. In the past, I have managed to get by with a much smaller allowance than my wife. That ability to get by has been under pressure for the last year or so as my wants have started to increase.
The biggest expense that has come up, is I am trying to surprise why wife with a second-honeymoon in a few years. Don’t worry; she won’t see this post, so I haven’t spoiled the surprise. It will be our 15-year wedding anniversary, as well as, her 40th birthday that year. I’d like to surprise her with the trip. I am estimating the cost of the trip at around $6,000. I figure I can cover that cost between a combination of savings from my allowance and tax refunds. I can’t dip into the normal household budget or she would know.
My goal is for me to save roughly half the cost from my allowance and the remaining from the refunds. My portion comes to about $600 a year or $50 a month. The second biggest expense that has been coming up has been running shoes. I have been running a lot more recently and thus shortening the life-span of my shoes. The shoes are just over $100 a pair. I had been getting away with buying only 1 pair a year, but with training for a marathon, this year I will need 3 pairs. Even with just those two things, my allowance would be insufficient, but I also have been wanting more recently. That could be due to more financial stability for the household in general. We are probably in the best financial shape that we have ever been in. Since the cost of my wants is going up, I needed to find a way to pay for them.
How can I give myself a raise, if my salary hasn’t increased? The first was to pick up a small side hustle, staff writing. My wife and I agreed that any money earned outside of my salary belongs to that person. So, my side hustle doesn’t have to be shared with the household.
I next examined my credit card. As part of our allowance strategy, both my wife and I are allowed to have our own credit cards. This helps tremendously with managing the household finances as everything is separate. The only requirement for the credit card is that you cannot carry a balance. I had a 1% cashback card, but since I wasn’t spending a lot, I wasn’t getting a lot. A few months ago, I developed a new strategy.
I now have two cards, one from Bank of America, the other from Discover. The Bank of America card gives me $30 every quarter if I have paid more than the minimum on my bill every month. That’s $120 a year for doing what I would do anyway. As a comparison, I’d have to spend $12,000 at 1% to earn that as cashback. My allowance isn’t that large. What I’ve done is take one recurring charge on our normal household card and switch it to this card. It’s paid in full very month and it’s above the statement minimum payment. The Discover card is their It card. It has 1% cashback in general and a 5% rotating category every month. I have been using it for my expenses and then if a household item is in the 5% category, I’ll use it for that too.
For example, gas stations are the category now, so when I fill-up I use my card rather than the household card. I estimate this will allow me to reap an extra $50-$100 dollars a year. That’s about $800 extra a year, which about covers my increasing wants.
Dealing with Lifestyle Inflation
My increasing wants can be attributed to lifestyle inflation. Now that we are more financially secure, I want to enjoy the benefits of our hard work. The trick is to keep in my mind the behaviors that put us in trouble in the first place. Namely, not saving for a large purchase beforehand and not making savings a priority. Since I could not increase my allowance directly, without disrupting the household budget, I had to get creative and find another alternative. The same principals can be applied to any expense. If you want something bad enough, you should be able to find a way to pay for it.