The following is a staff writer post from Libby Balke. She’s an amazing writer, work-at-home mother of two, and has been married almost 8 years. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Libby or Crystal.
When my husband and I first got married, we allowed ourselves a small amount of fun money. It wasn't much – maybe $50 a month for each of us – but it gave us the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of our labor, without feeling the need to “check in” with the other person about what we intended to buy with it.
Then we bought a house, a few cars, had kids, and went from a two-income household to something closer to a one-and-a-half income household. Without even saying it out loud, my husband and I realized that our fun money no longer fit into the family budget; it died a quick, painless death, with the tacit understanding that we'd resume the habit once our finances were more stable and our debt under control.
Well, that's happened. We're at a point where we feel more than able to give ourselves a little fun money once again. My husband's having a great time with his. He's bought himself a couple of grilling accessories, played a few rounds of golf, and treated himself to a few 12-packs of craft beer.
And me? Well, I'm spending my fun money, too. In the last six month, I've used my monthly money to:
- Pay for my daughter's non-refundable tuition deposit for all-day kindergarten next fall
- Buy cupcakes for my son's second birthday party
- Purchase Mother's Day cards for my mother, grandmother, and mother-inlaw
Oh yes, as you can tell, I'm having oh so much fun with my fun money. (Can you sense the sarcasm? It's as thick as San Francisco fog.)
The truth is, somewhere along the way, I completely forgot how to have fun with money. Almost every single financial transaction we've made over the past five years has been calculated – to the penny – to help us get to this point: a point where we're financially secure and out of debt; that's why we stopped giving ourselves fun money in the first place. Yet somehow, my husband returned to his happy-go-lucky ways the moment he got that cash back in his pocket, while I have continued to treat it like an extra part of the household budget.
I'm sure part of the reason is the inherent difference between men and women, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers. As a woman who is both wife and mother, I can't escape the feeling that I'm in charge of making sure everybody has their needs met. And if my daughter's school deposit is due and I've got the cash in my wallet, why not make the payment in cash instead of credit? To me, it seems like the responsible thing to do.
But when it comes down to it, what I'm doing with this cash is really the antithesis of fun money; I'm defeating the whole purpose. And that, in itself, annoys me to no end.
So I'm here to ask you: do you and your spouse have fun money? If so, how much do you give yourselves each week? Each month? Do you have any rules about how or why you spend it? What do you typically use it to buy? Please share – maybe you'll be able to help me learn to actually have a little fun now and then!