Walking the Line

H1Worker and I had an interesting discussion about money recently – at our apartment complex’s monthly wine and cheese event, of all places.  (You can’t beat drinks, nibbles and low-key socializing for a free Friday night activity!)

H1Worker’s brother is coming to visit.  He’s in college, so we’ll be buying his ticket, and spending some money to entertain him too.  I was pushing H1Worker to set a budget for the visit, as we tend to overspend when we have guests – it’s an ingrained behaviour for both of us.

We do have money allocated to cover irregular expenses, but i know we have several things to pay for out of that money in the next months, and i want to give it a chance to build up a bit so we’re not running it to the ground every pay period.

This month is the first implementation of our reworked budget. In this version, we each have $200 ‘fun money’ per fortnight, which is ours to do what we want with.  This is a new thing for us – we are one of those irritating couples who debates every purchase, down to the last book and DVD and cup of coffee.  It works for us 95% of the time, but sometimes our expenditure tilts in favor of one person or another, creating friction. Buying gifts for one another – especially surprise gifts – is challenging, too.

So, we decided to allocate $100 fun money each and $100 from the irregular expense fund for his brother’s plane ticket, and then $50 each and $100 from the irregular expense fund for the two paychecks after that.  I’m only partially happy with that solution, even though it was my suggestion.  I feel like we’re violating the principle of fun money before we even start by allocating it to something, but i think it’s okay while our irregular expense fund is beginning to build up.  Hopefully by his brother’s next visit we can comfortably cover it from that fund!

We arrived at that decision happily, but H1Worker expressed a little chagrin that his plan for clothing purchases and other fun money allocations would be thrown off.  So I suggested that he try reducing other line items in order to increase what’s available for fun money.  He said ‘so if i can reduce expenses, I can keep that money?’ I said ‘Well, in all fairness leftover money should be divided in half… and really we should add leftover money to our savings, if we can.’

We pondered this for awhile, until i suggested ‘I’ll tell you what.  You can keep half of whatever you can help save, and we’ll put the other half into savings’.  He thought this was a great idea, and I do too.  For one, some of our budget category assignments are at the low end of his comfort zone, though well in the middle of mine.  I think it will be a good reminder for him of how much a food budget can stretch, and I know he’s also motivated by a good challenge!

I’m hoping to save a portion of my fun money anyway, so i’m more than happy to see any additional dollars I’m allocated go into our savings accounts.  Each of us is motivated by things we desire, and each of us will reap rewards from making an effort to save.  It’s a win-win situation.

Of course, we’ll have to revisit the agreement if H1Worker suddenly ends up with 3 times as much fun money as me or something – but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it!

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