How Much Fun Money Should You Budget?

“Wow! That is also the toughest thing I’ve ever heard. I mean $25/month is not enough for me to go out eat somewhere or do anything fun.”

This was a reply I received on Facebook where someone asked the question, “What have you sacrificed to accomplish debt freedom?”

I posted to say that one of our sacrifices on our journey to paying off over $150,000 of debt was to give ourselves only $25/month each for “fun” money. This would include things like going out to eat, buying things we didn’t need, etc.

Quick Marriage Money Tip (part of the reason we NEVER fight about money)

I strongly believe that the model of assigning dedicated spending allowances for each spouse allows for each person to have control over something (that really doesn’t matter to begin with) that the other person can’t say shit about.

If she wants to buy $50 of yarn, it’s none of my business. Likewise, if I want to buy the latest PS4 game for hours of mindless entertainment, NONE YA! This is almost like an extension of personal space and has contributed greatly to our ability to get along about money matters. If you are mature enough in your relationship to understand the value of personal space, then you will probably see the value of this little budget tip. If you are interested in learning more about setting boundaries, I’d highly recommend you check out this book, Boundaries.

Click here to pick up a copy of Boundaries for yourself. I do receive a commission for this. Thanks, and I hope you learn as much as I did!

It sounds crazy, and it certainly wasn’t easy! I do remember some days I would think to myself, “I don’t have to do this. I make just as much (or more) money as these people (who are mocking me). I can afford what they can afford.”

In hindsight, sticking to my strict routine and budget was easily one of the best decisions I have ever made.

So…How much should you budget?

I know it’s difficult (trust me, I’ve been there), but I really do think that you can go as low as $25-50 per month, depending on the cost of living in your area. Try to think of it as a way to get out of your comfort zone and enjoy life more.

Something we have discovered over time is that there is a correlation between how long an activity takes and how much that activity costs.

Typically, the more time something takes, the cheaper it will be…for example, going to the park and reading, playing frisbee, or going for a walk would be cheaper; while going to dinner or to see a movie would be more expensive.

So if you feel like the Facebook poster above, then maybe consider brainstorming activities which take a bit more time (and get you out of the house).

What did my spending look like post-debt freedom?

​Well, my spending budget has fluctuated, and it largely depended on how stressed out I was with my job. Typically, the more stressed I felt, the more money I felt like spending on toys. From a numbers perspective, my spending budget has ranged from $125 to $300 per month at some points.

More recently, I have taken it back down to $50 per month because we are actually saving about 50% of our take-home pay so that we can start investing into real estate. Here’s the actual breakdown of our current discretionary spending:

Total “Fun” Money: $120
My Spending: $50
Her Spending: $50
Dates: $20

What about you?

How much are you budgeting to spend each month for “wants”? Do you have a difficult time, and what are you learning about yourself and your lifestyle as you progress along the path to debt freedom?

6 Replies to “How Much Fun Money Should You Budget?”

  1. This is great! And I whole-heartedly agree!

    We budget and pull out in cash 3 categories of fun money,

    Family Fun Money $50. We have kiddos and occasionally get invited to do things, so that is for admission to places or sending lunch money cash with them to do things with friends/family.

    My fun money $30: I work from home and so I don’t need cash as much as my hubby. I use this for a lunch date with friends or sometimes I save it for a month or two and buy something special.

    Hubby fun money $60: He gets more because he has corporate job and sometimes needs to take someone out to lunch, plus he commutes (which we are working on) so sometimes there are needs not associated with being close-to-home.

  2. Your budgeting method guided by the principle of establishing boundaries sounds like a great way to build trust in a relationship, and I agree with it whole-heartedly.

    It also reminds me of the classic envelope system, where every month you set aside a specific amount to be spent on whatever you like guilt-free. Creating another envelope for each spouse/partner could go far in preserving the peace, especially during the more turbulent times when paying off debt. (We’ve all been there.)

    Thanks for the insight, as always.

    1. Hey Matthew, I think you hit the nail on the head. In fact, we do have individually named checking accounts for mine and her spending allowances. This just makes it much easier to see if there is money left, and there are no mistakes. Thanks for reading!

  3. Wow, you’re extreme! Lots of great points, though. I really like your correlation between time and money. Why spend $20 to sit in a dark movie theater for two hours on a beautiful day?
    My husband and I recently paid off our mortgage and are debt free, but we are still wrestling with the “discretionary” spending. It’s off the charts, and we need to reign it in if we are ever going to finish our house renovations! Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. Thanks, Valerie! Yeah, I’ve been there. We spent a bunch of money during the first two years after paying off all our debt. Maybe $20K in house projects, toys, fun money, travel?

      After some time, we realized it wasn’t improving our happiness levels much, but I think it’s a natural progression to let loose a bit after being caged for a while.

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