Thursday, March 1, 2018

Allowances, Three Years Later

Three years ago I wrote a post about how Matt and I are both on an allowance.  I've linked back to that post often, when talking about spending, budgeting, etc.  I figured it was about time for an update.

The short version: three years later and we still really like our allowance system.

We each get a set amount per month to spend on whatever.  That's largely clothes for me and candy or video games for Matt.  What we don't spend rolls over to the next month or if we overspend it comes out of the next month.  We aren't real concerned with sticking with the exact amount per month, more with staying under it for the whole year.

The amount has changed a little over the years, up and down $5 here and there but the process is pretty much the same.

I know it might sound a little restrictive, being in our 30s and on allowances.  But, like all budgeting, it really feels like freedom.  I know when I buy clothes that it's in the budget under my allowance.  I'm pretty picky about what I will and won't buy and return a lot to keep under my amount for the year.  Having that portion be MY money has really made me a lot more careful with spending it. I'm very conscious that buying this shirt might keep me from buying that sweater later on. 

We have tweaked a little what we consider allowance money and not.  All non-workout clothes are.  Candy and treats like frozen cokes.  Dining out separately depends on if we have Luke with us or not.  Anything solo with friends counts but not necessarily doing something special with Luke.  My haircuts but not make-up come out of my allowance.  Books (me), video games (Matt).

(I actually don't know what all Matt spends his money on...I mean, I do, I keep track of the money but he generally spends less of his than me.  Mine is 75% clothes.)

We do extra things to add to our allowance.  When Matt fixes up computers for others, any money he makes (after parts) gets added back.  Money I make from Shopkick gets added to mine.  There are a few other things here and there.  They aren't huge amounts but it's something.  Knowing I'll get another shirt or a book is good motivation to scan a few more things at Target. 

We also started a separate workout allowance for each of us, covering my race fee and running gear.  Matt's considering buying a new bike with his.  We've handled that kind of stuff differently over the years but this seems to be sticking rather well.  Keeps me from going crazy on running clothes without those also coming out of my allowance.  Because we want to encourage being active but I might skimp on running socks if it gets in the way of every day clothes (and I did skimp on running socks, have pictures of bloody toe blisters to prove it.) (Don't worry, I won't share those.)

Sometimes I think I should have more things figured out, now that we are dangerously close to mid-30s.  Like how to spend our money without needing a tight budget.  Or keep the house clean without a chart.   But nope, these systems are how we have those things figured out.  Having allowances is how we can better track, plan, and budget our spending.

I feel no guilt when I buy clothes because it's all in the budget, we've set aside money for it, and it's on me if I change my mind later.  We don't need to justify our allowance purchases to each other.  It just seems to make it all easier.  And my budget works out a lot better when all clothes and stuff just comes out of an allowance line!

We can't be the only adults on this kind of system, whether you call it an allowance or not.  Who else?  And when should we start giving our kid an allowance?  Hum...

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