Ease Your Financial Stress in a Relationship with “Blow Money”March 26, 2015
There’s a line in the recent movie adaptation for Gone Girl in which one character asks another, “What’s the main thing you and your wife fight about?” The other character responds, “Money and how to spend it.”
Sadly, this is true for most couples. Money is easily one of the top issues that couples fight about. Especially if you’re combining household incomes, how you deal with purchasing nonessentials can get real ugly, real fast. How can you avoid feeling stuck in a no-nonsense budget and leave the shopper’s remorse at GameStop (or Nordstrom)?
Identify Your Compulsions
I love buying video games. It’s been a hobby of mine since I was young. My wife enjoys buying clothes, and loves Diet Coke beyond what many would call an addiction. For me, I rarely feel the need to buy clothes, and I hate the gross bleachy tasty of Diet Coke (disclaimer: I’ve never tried bleach). Likewise, my wife couldn’t care less about video games.
These are great examples of compulsive purchases in a relationship. Me spending our money on video games when it was supposed to go towards buying groceries would put a strain on anyone. The first step in lowering the financial stress on your relationship is to recognize what these purchases are for you. Everyone has their own hobbies and interests that might not be shared by their partner, but even if they are mutual obsessions, compulsory spending can really add up.
The key to a successful budget is not to cut out these purchases, but rather to understand your desire for them and, within reason, build your budget around them.
Introduce “Blow Money”
Now that you’ve recognized what your compulsive purchases are, it’s time to set up a new category in your budget. This will be known as Blow Money.
It can be any agreed amount between you and your partner, but for the sake of example, we’ll say that it’s $200. When planning your spending for the month, take that $200 and split it evenly between the two of you. The $100 you each receive is now your own personal money — funds that won’t affect the budget — to spend however you wish, judgment and guilt-free. Want to run out the door and spend it on $100-worth of candy (or if you’re like YNAB’s Jesse Mecham, gourmet, old-fashioned donuts)? Go for it. Want to save up that money for a new laptop? Great idea!
The idea here is to give you both a bit of financial freedom. This money is (preferably) not budgeted, as long as you’re still setting aside the money you need for monthly expenses and savings (and not spending more than you actually have).
Basically, Blow Money is great for your relationship. If you have your own little slice of money to blow, you’ll be less likely to hold animosity toward one another for that impromptu video game or shoe purchase. When it comes to your relationship and your money, you need your space.