Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Giving Yourself an Allowance

Jeremy jokes that every time I mention my allowance in public, he wants to sink into his shoes. It makes him sound like he's really keeping me in check-- the little wife whose husband doles out ten dollars at the beginning of the month, expecting her to cover all the household expenses while he spends whatever he wants. He finds himself wanting to say that it's not as bad as it sounds: he has an allowance too, it's something we both agreed on, I helped determine the amount, etc. etc. Unfortunately, he doesn't often get to explain himself. And usually when I say "I'd love to buy this, but I'm all out of allowance this month," people just have to speculate.

I don't mind making Jeremy squirm a little. It's good for a man. But giving yourself a personal allowance each month has a lot of other benefits as well.

Number one benefit-- freedom. You read that right. While it may not be a huge amount, I have a certain number of dollars every month that I don't have to answer to anyone about. I can spend it all on candy if I want... or maybe one of those elegant German bread pans I was reading about.

Second benefit-- it's easier for me to recognize a good deal now. Have you ever bought a shirt on sale, brought it home, and realized after wearing it once or twice that it you don't even like it? When I am limited by a dollar amount, instead of thinking what a bargain, I should buy two, I think well, it's 75% off, but is it really worth ten dollars of my allowance? You can spend all your money on great bargains and come away with all sorts of things you hardly use and end up throwing out.

Third benefit-- exercise in creativity. I am always coming up with things that I need to buy: new furniture, gadgets, hair products. Anytime there is a problem to be solved, it seems there is a product to help you out. Fortunately, as I have discovered, most of the time there is a way to solve the problem without spending money. Finding the solution takes work and brain power, and it is immensely satisfying.

Fourth benefit-- marital bliss, at least a little bit of it. I don't have to worry about my husband's electronics-buying habits. As long as it's in his allowance, he can get all the computer accessories he wants. In return, I don't have to worry about him rolling his eyes when I come home with an elegant German bread pan.

Fifth benefit-- the obvious. Allowances help us keep our spending in check. For us, this means that someday we can get a house, with some good cupboard space for my European bakeware.

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