The B word. Budget. That word has many negative connotations. When people think ‘budget’ they think restrictions. You can almost see people start gasping for air when the idea of a budget is first introduced. It is like you are threatening their very livelihood and sending them to “Dollar Prison”. Budgets aren’t meant to be constricting. In fact, when done correctly, they create a sense of freedom and relief. The relief comes from knowing where every dollar is going and not worrying about the month outlasting your money. One trick to making that budget feel good is an important line item for ALL budgets. No matter where you are in the budgeting process it is essential that you have some money, as much or as little as you see fit, that is designated for personal splurges. We call this line item “PM” or “Personal Money”.
Personal money is designed to be just as it sounds. A portion of money that is yours, just yours. Your spouse has zero opinion on how it is spent. Personally speaking, no pun intended, when we were really strapped for cash and I was constantly being told that we ‘couldn’t afford’ this or ‘don’t have enough money’ for that, I had a really hard time seeing Tasha walk in with a Starbucks cup. Wait, you can spend $5 a day on coffee but you are telling me that we can’t afford stuff? What gives? Nothing would frustrate me more than being told no about something and then seeing Tasha walk in with liquid gold in a green and white cup. Now, this isn’t to throw Tasha under the bus, her mom bought her coffee…alot! What it should really tell you, is just how important having a budget and having a line item for personal money in your budget should be.
When we both got on the same page about being on a budget, and believe it or not, it was me that needed to get involved in the process, we knew that we needed a little cash each month that the other spouse had no say about. For Tasha, that meant that the siren’s call of java could be heeded to her hearts content. For me, it was greek mythology. Does that shock you? I thought it might. Really, I am talking about something named for someone in greek mythology. Nike. The Swoosh. Just Do It. I have an addiction. Seriously. Tasha didn’t know that when she married me, she married someone who likes shoes as much as she does. She doesn’t understand why I need 14 t-shirts for the same team. Guess what? With personal money being in our budget? I didn’t have to explain why I might need the same shirt in 3 colors. No need to justify that when I say I ‘need’ a new pair of shoes, I really mean ‘I haven’t bought a pair in like a month…it’s time.”
I will tell anyone who listens, that for the two of us? Being on a budget very well may have been the single greatest thing to help our marriage. Having a plan, and sticking to it has been transformative beyond out expectations. The single best line item that has helped our frustration levels both with each other and the feeling of constriction, has been the inclusion of personal money. Each person, having a little personal freedom each month has been amazing.
Do you have a personal money designation in your budget? What do you spend it on? Would love to hear your stories in the comments!