My Budgeting Secret to Stashing Away ‘Fun Money’

My Budgeting Secret to Stashing Away ‘Fun Money’

One mom shares the simple trick that helps her budget for a little much-needed fun.

By: Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Ever since I became a parent, I’ve had to cut back on my entertainment budget. And while having little kids leaves less time for city bars and new eateries anyway, it’s always nice to have some cash for a night out (not to mention the occasional babysitter, if you want to include your spouse). So far, I’ve even managed to save enough money for the special, high-end outing -- but not because I’m adhering to some rigorous savings plan and automatically deducting portions of my earnings into a savings account. Rather, I build up my good-time cash in a simple white envelope that I keep in my desk drawer.

The idea to start a “fun money” envelope actually came from my husband, a practice he started back when he was a waiter. He used to keep a jar in his closet where he’d toss extra change and singles from his tips. The little money added up to $100 or more a month, and on nights where he just wanted to blow money on fun, the money was within reach. No credit cards required.

Every so often, when I decide not to get lunch out, or I have a few extra dollars from teaching a guitar lesson, I stash some of that cash -- usually about $5 to $20 -- into the envelope. Then, I forget about it and go about my business. After a few weeks or a month, I’ll count up the wad and find that it’s bigger than I expected. Last week I discovered my fun money bundle had hit $60 after just four weeks of saving — that’s enough money for a girls’ night out with one of my mommy groups.

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My husband and I certainly aren’t alone in keeping adult equivalents of piggy banks in our closets and drawers. After all, an envelope budgeting system can be more helpful than a savings account when it comes to saving because you may be psychologically less tempted to spend it (out of sight, out of mind!). And while keeping cash doesn't seem wise to some (you don't accumulate interest), it does help assuage guilt if I want to indulge in something other than, say, a mega-pack of diapers. If the money were in a checking account, it would go toward bills and incidentals and if it were in a savings account, I’d feel bad about spending it.

A few months ago, I added a second white envelope to my office drawer … for Christmas gift money! So far, I’ve saved about $400, and my goal is to hit $600. While this cash may never accumulate interest, this system ensures that we won’t rack up debt on a credit card during the holiday season, and then spend the next few months playing catch-up with our finances.


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For those who have trouble saving up a little extra spending money, consider the pros and cons of using a cash-envelope system. It might be just the trick your finances need.

How do you save extra money for the occasional splurge or good time?

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is a freelance writer and guitar teacher who lives with her husband and two young sons in Fairfield, Connecticut.

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