When I got married, my husband and I weren't exactly millionaires. We were homeowners (thanks to saving a boatload and having a small, inexpensive wedding), and we also owned two cars. We had an adorable dog. We had phone bills and cable bills and all the other sorts of bills we all have the wonderful pleasure of paying.
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We were also in debt. We had many-a-loan to start paying off, and we needed to save. We needed a plan.
After much consideration and number crunching, we decided that the only way we were going to really make a dent in our savings account was to give ourselves a stipend. Yes, that's right: A weekly allowance. We were 12 years old again. Oy vey!
At first, it was a hard concept to swallow. We both worked really hard. Why did we have to be so damn disciplined with our spending? It was frustrating! Up to the point where we decided to make this change, I was a notorious "browser." I loved going to the mall or Target or TJ Maxx and weaving in and out of every aisle. I would browse and gaze at all the gorgeous stuff that should be in my closet or on my mantle. And because I'm a human being, a lot of the times, I would buy things! All the things!
My extraneous spending wasn't something I really paid attention to...I had the money, so why not spend it? It wasn't like I was charging it all and couldn't pay it off. I was only spending what was in my account. What was the harm in that?
Over time, and with a wakeup call from my husband, I realized that I was harming myself and my financial situation. I didn't even have $500 in my savings for an emergency fund. In order to remedy this, and make us feel a little safer with money, we decided to implement this allowance rule. And because of my browsing tendencies, it wasn't the easiest of adjustments. In the honor of true transparency, I'm still working on "loving" this new lifestyle.
We get $30 a week.
We can spend this $30 any way we want. On coffee. On eating out for lunch. On a mani/pedi. On a couple nice bottles of wine. On clothing.
Anything that we do not consider an essential (gas, actual groceries, etc.), goes into the allowance category. Let me tell you, when you only have $30 to spend on extra stuff, it really makes you think about what truly holds value. I really take some time to think about what I'm purchasing and if I really need it.
Why was I buying lattes every day from the coffee shop down the road when my work has a free coffee machine? With good coffee! Did I really need another pair of shoes? In the moment, it's easy to just swipe the card, feel the rush of endorphins and worry about the cost/purpose of buying said thing until later, but when you know you only have $30 to spend, it really changes your perspective.
After having these moments of clarity, there have been weeks when I don't even spend the $30 and put it into our savings instead.
I can't say with 100% certainty that we'll live this "Allowance Life" for the rest of our days, but until we feel more comfortable with our financial situation, we're 12 years old again. Now where is my Discman and Backstreet Boys CD?