How much “blow money” do you budget, and why?

As I try to make up for March’s unexpected expenditures, I’ve been pretty cheap this month. I’ve been trying to mostly stick to my $300 cash draw — I even went to Chicago for the weekend and funded it entirely out of my monthly cash. So far, if I don’t go crazy and break out the credit card over the next two weeks but just use the remaining $100 in cash that I have, I’m on track to spend less than $1000 this month! (Right now, with all the bills paid and a full tank of gas, I’m at $952 for April. And yes, that includes rent.)

Anyway, doing this has required me to really buckle down on my use of my slush fund. I normally budget $100 a month that I can use for anything I please: typically eating out [since I don’t have a restaurant budget], shopping, and entertainment [tickets to shows]. This month, I’ve only spent $16 from it, for the new Sufjan Stevens CD. I’ve also been keeping a list entitled “things I did not buy in April” — a couple of clothing items, another CD, a cookbook I really want — which, had I bought them all, would have put me at more like $150 free spending money (or $70ish if you don’t count the clothes.)

Although I can handle this money [Edited: hah! I meant “month” of course but apparently I have $$ on the brain….] of being super cheap, I don’t really like it. Eventually, maybe even next month, I’ll buy that second CD and the sandals (which I really need since my last pair wore out completely.) Probably I’ll get the cookbook too, though I might mull it over for a while. I feel kind of pinched this month, so I’d say I’m reasonably comfortable with my “$100 is ok in a normal month” position. But I’m curious about what all of you guys do. I see some budgets where the “blow money” is nearly nonexistent — where each partner gets $10 or $20 to spend on themselves — and then others where it’s not broken out at all. How do those of you with a tiny amount of free-spending money handle that? Is there anyone who has more like $200 or $300 per person in the shopping/entertainment/eating out division of the budget?

 

22 thoughts on “How much “blow money” do you budget, and why?

  1. We do $100 cash blow money for each of us and $100 towards what we call the “hobby” money. That goes towards stuff like tools, gardening supplies, web hosting fees, and the miscellaneous stuff we get to support the house – but not quite blow on ourselves like food or alcohol.

    We usually save it up – I have been saving both up to get the wife a nice gift to celebrate the arrival of our little one. Now it is going to go back to tools, etc.

    It works for us because we can save it if we want to, it keeps our spending in check, and we don’t have to budget things like gardening supplies or tools into the monthly budget but we can still get stuff as we need it.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Hobby stuff is a great way to spend some blow money — I definitely will spend some of mine on things like sewing supplies the next time I start a project. It’s nice that you saved some up for your wife. Congratulations!

  2. Brooke says:

    Eh, I love this concept but feel like we aren’t “advanced” enough in our budget/cutting spending to do this. I.E. we have categories for eating out, entertainment, home, and 80-100 dollars of petty cash where our misc. spending gets absorbed. A lot of this is driven by my husband, who tends to overspend *only* when he is given a budget to stick by. I, however, benefit from the structure of a spend limit. So we’re working on how to compromise and get a system that works for both of us. But there’s so much room for improvement, and it is much easier to cut expenses than make extra money : ).

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Making extra money is in fact really hard! It’s fascinating that your husband overspends with a budget! Does he see “you have $100” as a challenge rather than a hard limit? 🙂

  3. I think it’s always a good idea to work some fun money into one’s budget. I don’t have a separate category, but I have one called “life expenses.” It encompasses some fun money, but it’s blended with random purchase like batteries, beauty care, laundry, yadda yadda. But lately though that fund really has been more about life expenses than it has been about entertainment or “wants.” Some months are just like that.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Yeah, I’m spending my cash this month on things like detergent (just spent $8!) Does your life expenses category go up and down in size depending on how things are going financially? Or do you set a number and keep it there consistently?

  4. Alicia says:

    Blow money is just in groceries for me really. That’s where I like splurging, because my stomach rules 🙂 but once my debt goes away I’ll have blow money outside of food. I figure $100 seems reasonable.

    PS, I’ve heard amazing things about the new Sufjan album. I used to be in *lerve* with him 🙂

    1. thesingledollar says:

      I can’t wait for it to show up! And there’s really no reason for $100 except it’s such a nice round number 🙂

  5. ARBM says:

    With our new attempt at budgeting this month, I did put in some “Fun” money… but since we didn’t have this category before, and we have categories for restaurants, clothing, and such, it might not be used properly yet and will require some review at the end of the month. We gave ourselves each $200 for the month, but I’ve only spent $8 of it so far, and my fiance hasn’t spent any… but there are some expenses he has put in other categories that may be better located in that one? Check back with me at the end of the month and I’ll let you know how it goes.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Cool, I look forward to hearing about it!

  6. Kirsten says:

    ZERO budgeted here. Our on-paper budget (which I really should figure out how to share somehow) is just so tight that we don’t get the luxury. That said, my in-laws frequently send us money for birthdays and our anniversary and that’s kinda our chance to go nuts and get whatever we want without checking in.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      eesh. That is super tight 🙁 I’m glad you get a chance every now and then though.

  7. I’m so impressed at how low you keep your expenses! Under $1,000 in a month is truly awesome!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      I have to make it through the rest of the month first 🙂 But yes, in a “normal” month with no big car repair or travel expenses, I can generally keep it to around $1100-1200. If I do make it under $1000 it’ll be the first time ever, I think!

  8. Great job at staying under $1000 including rent! Wow!
    My husband gets an allowance of $60 per paycycle (usually 2 per month, sometimes 3), I get $0. Because of the way my life is right now, so set in routine (work, gym, home), I really don´t need any eating out money or spending allowance. This is good for me, mentally, too. If I don´t have any money allotted for eating out, well, I can´t eat out! (I don´t really enjoy shopping, so that´s not a thing for me.)
    Having said that, if we have an event coming up, we facor that in to the monthly budget. For example, some months we´ll go to the local roller derby bout, and we factor our $30 in admissions into the budget.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Well, I haven’t made it to the end of the month yet! Plenty of time for my car to break down or whatever. It makes sense to me that having $0 allotted prevents you from spending 🙂 The roller derby sounds fun, though. I’ve never been to one of those.

  9. I have a few categories that would fall into the “blow” category: eating out, hobby and clothing. Total, I budget $75 for these 3 categories. It’s definitely tight, but that’s where I am. I also save for travel, but nothing crazy.

    I do think I will soon be upping the “hobby” category, as I want to have more available for social events and not have to be a miser all the time.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Yeah, the really hard balance is social events! I don’t drink much (maybe a glass of wine every now and then), which is helpful, because it means I can go out and spend much less, but still, I want to be sociable without spending all my $$ 🙂

  10. Melissa says:

    I looked at my budget for the first months of this year, and averaged about $350 for blow money. Overall I’m actually fine with that number. But I recently decided to up my debt repayment even more, so this will be the first area that gets scaled back. To balance it out, I’m planning to take more advantage of the Free Stuff Washington D.C. has to offer.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      DC has a ton of Free Stuff! I really resent it when I have to pay at museums elsewhere 🙂

  11. Cindy says:

    I tend not to do well with breaking my budget down into too many categories… I change my mind too often about the little things! So, I keep it simple: When I get paid each week, a set amount gets moved to another account for all “regular expenses” (rent, insurance, mortgage, car payment, utilities, etc.), and a set amount gets moved out for my extra debt repayment. What’s left ($123.36) can be spent however I want, but also must cover groceries, gas, household items and my monthly cell phone bill (simply because I’m too lazy to move the monthly auto-debit to the regular expenses account). Some weeks it feels like that’s a lot of money, and other weeks it feels like it isn’t nearly enough, but overall it works okay for me.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Yeah, that system makes total sense. I want to have a bit more freedom to really spend my blow money, most months, so I try to keep a limit on that.

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