Why I’m Giving Myself an Allowance

by Erika Torres

So making more money has been a ton of fun, but it’s time to get back to business–and that business is the business of saving money.

We’ve actually been doing a great job of saving money. For a few months, we were even saving more than 50% of our income!

But, the reality is we’ve also been spending a lot of money. $400 on On the Run Tour concert tickets, anyone?

Here is a look at our monthly spending for the past seven months.

monthly spending

In June, we spent almost $1500 more than in January, back when Eric still hadn’t gotten his first paycheck from his new job and so we were forced to live a frugal lifestyle for that whole month until we waited for our second income.

Since our ultimate goal is to save for a down payment on a house, there is no reason why we should be spending so much money on who-knows-what. I admit, my shopping addiction got a little bit out of control for a bit there.

I can’t get too upset with our spending–we’ve been broke for so long, that when we finally started earning some real money, it felt good to loosen those purse strings.

BUT I really needed to reel in my spending habits, and keep my eye on the prize.

So since July 25, when our budget for August began (we go based by paydays, rather than calendar months), I placed myself on a mandatory allowance–$50 a week, or $200 a month.

This may sound like a lot, but this needs to cover all my expenses–from clothes to dining out to getting my nails done. So far, I’ve been doing really well! 

I already failed. Last week, I purchased a pair of shoes that set me way over budget. Ugh!

But other than that slip[ up, I’ve been doing really well.

Giving myself an allowance was tough at first–it’s been so wonderful to just purchase whatever I want–but our desire to own our own home is much greater than my desire for some expensive workout wear…

I’ve submitted Eric to a similar budget, although he gets slightly more because for his job, he has to buy food on a daily basis, that’s just how they roll in the Fire Department. As long as we’re under last month’s expenses, I’ll be happy!

We just need to reel it in if we’re serious about getting to our $50,000 savings goal.

I’ll keep you all posted on our progress and see if we’re able to bring down our expenses to more respectable levels.

Are you on a self-imposed allowance?


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Emily @ Urban Departures August 14, 2014 - 2:15 pm

We our his and her allowances in our budget, but it’s mainly fun money. Clothes for me and who knows what (probably electronic gadgets) for him. After months of NOT shopping, I went a little crazy and couldn’t stop shopping. I’ve blown my allowance and had to “borrow” money. Whoops.

Kristin August 14, 2014 - 8:53 am

Our 28-day budget includes $100 for entertainment and eating out and $50 each for blow money. Clothing is a separate budget item but we only budget for it when we plan to go clothes shopping (which isn’t very often). Last month, I still had $20 left in my blow money account so I threw it at debt with the rest of the leftover budget money. I took $30 out of the account for blow money about a week ago and still have it all. I’ve just gotten in the habit of not spending much money and I’m totally okay with that.

Alexis August 13, 2014 - 9:26 pm

I love the idea of giving an allowance even when a person is older! Sometimes we forget that we need to spoil ourselves a little as well. I’m always so caught up in my money issues and of course I’m always wanting or needing more, but sometimes there’s nothing I can really do about it!

DavidCarlson1@gmail.com August 13, 2014 - 9:19 pm

I think a self-imposed allowance can be good if you are really trying to stay under certain spending targets. My wife and I have cut a lot of our spending and it’s made up primarily of consistent month-over-month fixed costs, so we don’t have allowances. Maybe when our income level is higher and we aren’t tracking everything as closely we might have to give this a try.

Amy @ Army Amy August 13, 2014 - 8:16 pm

I give myself $20 in cash for whatever spending during the week. It’s pretty small, but I mostly use it for eating out. If I gave myself more money, I’d just eat out more and be less healthy. It’s also easier for me because my husband’s deployed, so my partner in crime isn’t around to spend money with me. The temptation just isn’t there with him not around.

holly@clubthrifty.com August 13, 2014 - 5:48 pm

We go through phases too. Usually it starts with a few spendy months and ends with a few months of being more careful. It’s important to keep yourself in check! I know I have to do the same. Thank goodness we track these things or we might never know =/

Julie @ Girl on the Move August 13, 2014 - 1:16 pm

I am on a self-imposed allowance while I work on my financial goals! And while it’s not always fun I know that in the long run I’ll be glad I stuck to it!

Henrietta Schermeier August 13, 2014 - 12:49 pm

How much do you guys save for retirement? A certain percent into your 401k? Do you use a Roth IRA? Or do you guys have pensions? I’m impressed with the amount you’re able to save for a down payment aside from retirement money.

newlywedsonabudget August 13, 2014 - 1:20 pm

We both have pensions, but I also have a 401(a) and deferred compensation, which equal 10% of my annual salary, before taxes. We also have Roth IRAs but admittedly have not put anything into them this year. We are strongly considering maxing out Eric’s by the end of the year.

Megan August 13, 2014 - 12:00 pm

We have allowances too. Matt has a separate fund for food while at work. My allowance needs to be more, because I always fail. lol

newlywedsonabudget August 13, 2014 - 1:38 pm

You and me both, kid

emily@thethreebiterule.com August 13, 2014 - 9:51 am

I love this! My husband and I use our separate allowance each month. We have them directly deposited into personal checking accounts. It’s good for us to not question one another’s spending. I like that my pedicure or clothes purchase doesn’t affect his lunch at work with friends or techy purchase. I like not having to move that money around or to think about if there is leftover. It seems to be a good starting point for us. Occasionally we go over our amount or whatever but it works well overall. I’m the saver and he’s the spender so this keeps the peace with items that are separate from joint expenses.

newlywedsonabudget August 13, 2014 - 1:37 pm

I feel like that might help us out if we had the money in separate accounts. We tend to use our credit cards for everything due to points, and that obviously makes it harder to stick to an allowance when sometimes you have the cash, and sometimes it’s on the credit card, and do you have to deposit the cash if you use the card? eek

cece August 13, 2014 - 8:52 am

No that doesn’t sound like a lot to me at all!!! And I assume that doesn’t include gas. Things just add up so quickly. I think it’s great you allowed yourself some time to just have fun and enjoy not stressing over money. It’s a lot less stressful to spend less just because you are choosing to rather then because you are flat out broke so it’s actually a pretty good place to be.

Poor Fat Chick August 13, 2014 - 8:51 am

My BF and i have an weekly allowance. Many of our friends make fun of us because of that (or because we use the word allowance) but it has helped us out so much and has curbed my BF’s spending, somewhat (he is getting better). We sat down when we first started doing our budget and looked at the amount we could afford… we set the amount of $80.00 per week which does us well. The budget does pay for my BF’s portion of his band’s jam rent so for that i get my nails paid by the budget (which works to be about $30.00 per month).
The allowance does us well. Last year i put $20.00 away of my allowance every week and this part June i went to Vegas with friends for a convenetion and i still managed to live a life on $60.00. I just had to plan a lot in advance. It does wonders for learning goal setting. My BF is still learning this…

poorfatchick@hotmail.com August 13, 2014 - 8:52 am

That’s $80.00 each per week

newlywedsonabudget August 13, 2014 - 1:34 pm

I really love that amount. I’m finding $50 to be hard…but $80 might be more manageable. That would still be less than what we’ve been spending too! A lot less

newlywedsonabudget August 13, 2014 - 1:33 pm

i will say, Eric has gotten SO much better with managing money–it’s only taken 4+ years! 😛 At the beginning, he would spend money with reckless abandon. These days, he has seen what the fruits of money-pinching labor have afforded us and loves the goal setting we have set for ourselves, like buying a house. When he hears that “hey, maybe if we keep saving like this, we can actually afford that retirement property in Costa Rica you’ve been wanting!” it definitely makes him pinch his pennies.

However, we still spending more than when we had no money. So our budget isn’t exactly dire.
I’m very impressed with $60 budget in Vegas–that is impressive!!

Ben @ The Wealth Gospel August 13, 2014 - 7:42 am

My wife and I started giving ourselves an allowance a few months ago and it’s done wonders to curb our discretionary spending. We now know that anything extraneous needs to come out of our allowance. I’m actually a lot less likely to spend mine because I like to see the balance grow each month 🙂

Tonya@Budget and the Beach August 13, 2014 - 7:37 am

I don’t give myself an allowance per say, I just have a certain amount in my life expenses category that is a bit of a catch all, but I’ve been thinking lately I need to break that up a bit into sub categories. Everyone needs just a big of fun money, right?

newlywedsonabudget August 13, 2014 - 1:28 pm

even when we were super broke, we still got $20 of blow money, which was enough for a happy hour, or 4 cups of starbucks 🙂

Nicole August 13, 2014 - 5:38 am

Oh man, don’t tell my husband how much allowance you get! We get $50 per month. This covers clothes, toys (i.e. video games for the hubs), treats on our own (i.e. if we go out to ice cream together that’s a joint charge, but if I’m out by myself and want a lemonade ice tea from starbucks that’s on me), and any activities or meals out on our own. So packing my lunch is a joint charge (from our groceries), but if I forget and need to go out to eat, I pay out of my allowance. Also – when I go out with my friends, or when I flew to NYC to visit a friend, that all comes out of my own money. Even though it doesn’t seem like much money it tends to work out. A lot of months I’m under to make up for the few times I’m over – like when I needed new clothes, or went on a solo trip. Plus this is where my birthday money goes too!

newlywedsonabudget August 13, 2014 - 1:26 pm

oh my gosh, you make me feel so bad! When we were broke, we gave each other $20 a month, and it seriously covered like one or two nights out. I never got to buy my lunch at work. Our allowance money falls under the same rules yours does (ie, if we’re together, it’s joint, but if we’re alone, it’s from allowance).
Now that we make more though, even sticking to $200 a month is really hard!! I know I need to put myself on a better system. Eric, two weeks ago, spent like almost $200 on a single night out with the guys! He doesn’t go out very often with his friends, so they always go hardcore when they do.

MomofTwoPreciousGirls August 13, 2014 - 5:34 am

My Eric and I also have the same amount of “allowance” each week. Except we budget a month ahead so we get a lump sum at the beginning of the month AND our clothing budget is separate. Usually $50/month each. I was always complaining about buying him lunch stuff and him then eating out. He was always complaining about my coffee habit and I didn’t feel my grooming (hair, nails, makeup) should come from joint money since he does not have those expenses. The kids hair comes from the hh budget though. I always feel like it’s a lot BUT it keeps us from feeling deprived and then making big blunders from pent up yearning to spend! We do adjust if we have a lower income month or if a big expense comes up but we have found this works for us. Mostly bc we are not allowed to bi$$h about what we spend on! After Christmas I took my gift money and clothing money I had been hoarding and bought myself a beautiful, classic Coach purse and wallet. I have not used another bag all year! I have never ever thought to spend that kind of money on that type of item but our budget and my newfound mindfulness about what I wanted allowed me to do it with no guilt and no shame from the hubs! Same goes for him keeping up with the latest greatest Apple products!

newlywedsonabudget August 13, 2014 - 1:27 pm

That’s precisely the reason we give each other an allowance, so we can stop complaining about what the other one spends money on.


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