I never got an allowance as a kid. I got paid for chores and such when I was a bit older, but I never had a weekly allowance. Now that I’m all grown up I’d like to give it a try! The joke in all this, of course, is that when you are an adult you don’t have to have an allowance because all your money is your own. And yet, because all your money is your own there’s nothing to stop you from spending all your money on random crap. This is one of many ironies of being an adult…
I think a somewhat strict limit on fun spending will help re-align some of my spending priorities. It will definitely get me back in the habit of noticing what I am spending and planning ahead. What I like the most about this strategy, however, is that it works two ways. It both helps you not spend too much money, but also allows you to spend money in a guilt-free manner. It helps create a healthy boundary for yourself in relation to money.
I know a couple who have used this strategy very successfully as a way to help regulate spending and erase conflict about money. Instead of being annoyed at each other for making “stupid” or “pointless” purchases, they each get a set amount of money to spend each month and they can spend it however they want, without judgment from each other.
Okay, so I have set up some guidelines for myself and will do a four-month trial period with my allowance. Note: these are absolutely guidelines and boundaries that I’ve set for myself – naturally, if you were to try an allowance you would have a different amount and would spend it on different categories of things.
At the beginning of each month I “get” an allowance of 100 dollars to spend on whatever! For me, the allowance covers everything that is not groceries, gas, or travel expense (like plane tickets). Clothes, snack foods (including popcorn and candy - my two favorite vices), eating out, parking fees, any thrift store shopping, home décor items (including frames, paint, etc.), dishes, nail polish, movies, etc. These are all items that are completely unnecessary to my health and happiness (and values), but that I still enjoy. Also, this allowance covers only items that are related to me – not things that I do together with Alex or affect us both or someone else (like taking friends out to dinner, etc.).
I chose $100 because, for me, it is enough to cover most of my current spending habits, but not quite enough to cover everything I want to buy. For example, I belong to a book club that meets once a week at a local restaurant, so I know I’ll be buying at least four meals out per month. That should be about $40. I want to do some sprucing up around the house. I’d also like to go to a local play and a concert, and expect to have invitations or occasions to eat out other times as well. And you know I’m buying some Girl Scout cookies!
Also, if I don’t spend $100 one month, the remainder will roll over to the next month. This way I can save up if I want to go to a play or something.
Here we go! I’ll check back in in a few months with everything I’ve learned by giving myself an allowance – including interesting tidbits about what I ended up spending money on, what I missed, and how this changed my habits. I’m not sure what to expect. It’s quite possible I could spend $50 on junk food each month!
If you are interested in giving yourself an allowance (or already do), let me know! We can do it together and I’d love to hear about your experiences!