You work hard for your money. You’ve got money goals—and you’re knocking them out one monthly budget at a time. On top of it all, when your friends ask you to join them for dinner and concerts every weekend, you’re now a pro at knowing when to say, “It’s not in the budget.”
Listen—there’s a time and a season to deny tons of extra costs. Like when you’ve got focused intensity on those early Baby Steps. But some self-care is also important, and you still need to treat yourself—at least a little. Sometimes it’s only very little until you hit that next big goal, but that’s okay!
One way to enjoy life without going financially overboard is to make a budget line for fun money. Yes, really! Here’s how:
What Fun Money Is and Isn’t
First of all, putting fun money in your budget isn’t a green light to drop your money goals or go on a spending free-for-all. Fun money isn’t an excuse to be wasteful—it’s another way to stick to your budget. Remember, you want a zero-based budget, so you should give every single dollar a job. And a fun money line makes you focus all your spending—even the fun stuff—so you don’t accidently waste money on little things here and there.
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When you give yourself a budget line for fun, you can spend that amount on whatever you want. This is the money you’ve set aside to use on that fancy cappuccino or the new shoes you don’t need but really want. It's can be money for date nights or that subscription box you want as a personal treat each month. Also, if you’re married, make sure you and your spouse each have your own fun money lines.
And when the fun money budget line is gone, it’s gone. We repeat: When the fun money budget line is gone—it’s gone.
Why You Need to Plan for Fun Money
We talk a lot about goals and how they need to be the perfect balance of empowering and realistic. Fun money helps you with the realistic side because it lets you stick to your goals and have a treat every now and then.
Fun money also helps you remember a budget isn’t all about restrictions. Money expert and bestselling author Rachel Cruze puts it like this: “A budget doesn’t limit your freedom. It gives you freedom.” To be honest, you’ve got the freedom to put anything you want in your budget. Use it wisely. Hit your needs and goals hard. Once those are covered, then you can have a little fun.
A budget is deciding up front and on purpose what every dollar will do that month. That kind of planning ahead keeps you from feeling guilty when you do spend. When you think of your budget as permission to spend, you get a new perspective on budgeting. You’re giving your money permission to go where you want it to go. But again—use that power wisely!
And that brings us to the best benefit of having some fun money in the budget: When you treat yourself a little, you’re less likely to fall off the goal-crushing wagon completely. It’s like the one cheat meal of the week or the night off from running. That space makes all the hard work seem more doable.
How Much Fun Money Should You Budget?
How much you budget for fun each month depends on several things—like your income, debts and savings goals. You might have room for $100, or maybe just $10 right now.
If you’re just starting on the Baby Steps, keep that fun money to a bare minimum. And get super creative to stretch those dollars! Learn some hacks for your next Starbucks run to get the most caffeine for your money. Get thrifty at the thrift store instead of buying everything new. (Actually—no matter your income or money goals, savings hacks and thrift stores are always a great idea.)
To make it all easier, get yourself our free, on-the-go budgeting tool, EveryDollar. You can add in all those budget lines quickly and easily keep up with your spending.
And remember, if you’re at a place in life where you’ve got only $10 budgeted for fun money, don’t let that get you down. It’s a just season. You’re working on something greater, and it will be worth it!