Fun Money is for Financial Sustainability
Saving every dollar towards achieving a goal can be a grueling task. Most inquiries from outsiders center around how we survive the suffering. Surely, we must be starving ourselves of LIFE in an effort to be free?
Firstly, if you think that’s the case, then you don’t know us at all. We are very averse towards doing anything we don’t feel is right (read also as “anything we don’t want to do”). And while that seems bratty at best, it’s actually the perfect recipe for a happy life.
Secondly, I agree. Anyone who is bogged down by the stresses of meeting payment requirements may have difficulty enjoying “the finer things”, but who gets to define “the finer things”? Only you.
So while the rest of society spends their hard-earned bucks on Rolexes and Teslas, your idea of a finer thing could be a cup of coffee, a morning of solace, or a day outdoors, yeah?
And lastly, even when it comes to purchasing stuff, we have the ability to, but with mindfulness. This course is not about “not buying anything, ever”. We just don’t purchase things right when we see them. In fact, we scoff at that on-demand-pull that gets most people to regretfully spend.
So how do we spend on the good stuff without overly spending?
We have a category in our budgeting tool titled “Fun Money”. We have to thank our financial planner for teaching us about the importance of having a category for spending on OURSELVES.
Financial sustainability requires the avoidance of budgeting burn-out. Sustainability is achieved by a variety of inspirations and motivations. Just when the going gets rough, one can find the push they need in a community (such as our Facebook Mastermind Group!), in the re-evaluation of perspective, or in a reminder of the reason WHY we started in the first place.
Sustainability can also be found in a bribe – a reward per say … but a calculated reward.
This is what fun money is.
How to Set Aside Fun Money
Fun money is a category in our budgeting tool. It sits under the “Wants” grouping, and gets allocated a monthly amount. Nothing large by any means. We are talking $50 a month. If we want something more than $50, then we have to save for a few months.
We have our own separate categories for fun money, and we can spend our fun money however we want. Fun money is spent towards things we want but we both don’t benefit from. So, for example, if I want to buy a book about bread, then that will come out of my fun money fund. Or if he wants to buy a video game, then that will come out of his fun money account.
There isn’t anything extravagant about the fun money bucket. Because the amount is so small per month (less than 1% of our entire income), there is no guilt associated with it. Because we each have our own category, there is no blame when one spends their fun money. And because we already planned for the spending ahead of time, there is no buyer’s remorse. In fact, the opposite is true. It starts the habit of serious consideration prior to purchasing, because you realize how long it takes to build up your fun money fund, and makes you assess whether there are better methods of spending.
In fact, I think fun money is a great way to teach kids about appropriate spending habits, especially if the percentage set aside towards fun money is small compared to what they actually receive from birthdays, holidays, and rewarded chore duties.
How Fun Money Helps With Sustainability
So you can buy a few items. Whoop-dee-doo. How does that help with paying down a massive student debt?!
The psychology of working essentially for free and putting all your hard-earned dollars towards a debt that allowed you to work in the first place is difficult to describe. The emotional roller coaster that one experiences cannot be stressed. Some days, you wonder what it is exactly that you’ve done. You start to question whether it was all worth it.
Eventually, you’ll come around. But the hoops you have to go through to continue on this journey … like I said, the insecurities roll in like a fog. You don’t realize their coming, but they sneak up on you. It is during these times that you may need a little boost of confidence.
Moral support does the trick, but there are days when I feel like no one else TRULY understands. Because how could they? We all travel different paths, and no two are exactly alike.
An activity helps as well, but only momentarily, as it steals the mind and takes it elsewhere. The insecurity doesn’t fade, however, and soon you are back where you started. Unless the activity spans a long period of time, all you can do is wait for the insecurity to pass.
However, the human mind responds very well to a reward system. In fact, it responds so well, that many people are obsessed with rewarding themselves, so much so that they suffer from excess consumption. No need to go down that rabbit hole now (AGAIN). Reward systems are involved in positive reinforcement, or in bribing people to do what one wants them to do. So really, I guess I’m bribing myself. Or at least, I am psychologically tricking the mind into resetting to a more positive thinking space.
The human mind doesn’t respond to starvation. Nothing lives after that. But the reward system, the mind understands. Fun money allows me to give myself calculated rewards. Things that I have already budgeted for, the purchasing of which is controlled. I don’t need much, as we already know, but occasionally, I need a push.
I need breathing room.
I need a break.
And then, I can keep going.
Fun money makes budgeting sustainable.
Less scary, somehow.
This honesty makes me less of an anomaly, and more human. Hopefully, it makes me more relatable, and shows people that this isn’t me performing some heroic. It’s something that’s achievable for others too. I hope it gets them to start on their own journeys, knowing that sustainability is possible, and that fun money doesn’t make you less dedicated, nor does it make you less successful. If anything, I will dare to say that it’ll feed your fire, and make you succeed where others only dare dream.