Money Talks, So Should You

Newlyweds on a Budget: How do you divide the fun money?

Erika Torres
by Erika Torres, Dimespring 30 (@newlywedsbudget)

After a few months of being married, Eric and I quickly realized we needed to figure out a way to have some money that we could spend just on ourselves. We had an all-in mentality when it came to our finances — meaning we shared everything  so any money we spent on ourselves came from a joint account.

All our bills and debt repayment also came from this joint account. So while Eric was buying lunch every day and not worrying about the cost, I was struggling at the end of every month trying to figure out a way to pay all our bills. Of course, this led to many stressed-out arguments.

READ: Having the money talk: Know your money personality 

Eric figured he should be allowed to spend money without having to ask for permission. And I was more concerned with paying off debt and keeping a roof over our heads.

We needed a solution that wouldn’t make either of us feel stifled or stressed. That’s when “the fun money” was born in our household.

Many couples have a “fun money” account. Whether it’s a percentage of their income (ie. 10 percent) or a set equal amount each week, couples have figured out that fun money is a great solution to how much each individual spends.

I love to get manicures. Eric likes to go out to lunch. With our fun money, we can each spend money on our own little indulgences without it causing a big argument about how we won’t be able to afford rent each month.

READ: How to create a budget 

Unfortunately for us, our budget was stretched out to the max for a period of time when Eric wasn’t working. We still budgeted for a fun money allowance for each of us, but it was more in the realm of $20 every two weeks. Not much for anything, but it was all we could afford, and we still found it essential to have some money that was just for us.

As broke as we were at the time, the fun money allowed us to have fun at a nominal expense and stop worrying about our budget.

Now that we’re doing better financially, we’ve been able to up the ante without going overboard.

Do you and your spouse have fun money?

Erika Torres graduated from Wellesley College with dual degrees in English and Italian Studies — and $30,000 in debt. Since getting married in 2010, she and her husband continue to work at paying off debt and saving money, while still having fun and traveling. Erika is a member of the  Dimespring 30, a community of bloggers sharing their thoughts, opinions and perspectives on personal finance.