Published by 18 Comments

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.

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  • http://pretendtobepoor.com/ Neil Brooks

    I’m familiar with the idea of “blow money” but what do you mean by it is not budgeted? Do you mean you don’t specify what you will spend it on? If I was going to assign $200 a month to blow money that would certainly be an item in my budget.

    • Save Money, Dammit!

      Hi Neil. While we do put that $200 in our budget in a Blow Money category along with all of the additional categories (groceries, entertainment, etc), budgeting our personal $100 after it’s divided up is a matter of preference. In the early days of using blow money, I often didn’t budget my personal $100 (and often blew through it fairly quickly!), while my wife divided her $100 out in her own little blow money budget to save up for larger purchases. So find an amount that can fit in your budget, divide it up, and blow it any way you’d like, budget or not. Thanks for reading!

  • http://alittlepocketmoney.com/ Lil’ VEE!

    Word UP! I love this idea
    and doing something similar is the reason why we enjoy harmony at the hacienda.
    I have a “squirrel fund” that I set up in a separate bank account
    where I put all my little nuts and acorns throughout the year and let them pile
    up into a Scrooge McDuck vault of MAD CASH that I can swim around in. My hubby
    knows about the account, but, because it is not linked to our primary
    checking/savings, it is an “out of sight, out of mind” savings
    adventure. Last year, I squirreled away over $10 grand and used my mad money to
    pay off a load of debt keeping us down. Without the debt-dread, I finally quit
    my super-stress job and have followed my dream of becoming a social worker. (While being a social worker may sound more stressful, I assure you that working
    with jerks stabs you in the soul.) “Blow money” is awesome – it can
    help you not fight with your spousal unit, enjoy some of the luxuries to which
    you’ve become accustomed (harumph, harumph!), and even escape from the cubicle
    hell-maze! BRAVO!

    • Save Money, Dammit!

      That’s awesome! Congrats on knocking out that debt and finding your dream job. Finding some financial independence with the “squirrel fund” and getting rid of debt goes a long way towards a stress-free lifestyle. Great work!

  • Sam

    This has been an essential part of our budget/saving our marriage. haha! No more complaints about my Starbucks habit, or his new power tool. And so easy – it’s a no-brainer. Also, an additional benefit – this makes a bit of room for surprises/presents for your spouse. No more asking each other “what did you buy for $30 on Amazon?” (oops! that was for your birthday!)

    • Save Money, Dammit!

      Great points! It’s been great being able to enjoy our own spending habits without any added stress. Also that’s a good point about buying gifts. That’s definitely been a benefit for us as well

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  • AbigailP

    Yep, fun money made our lives that much easier. I didn’t take any for a long time because I had quit most of my hobbies due to time constraints. But my husband has ADD and a fascination with graphic novels and accompanying collectibles.

    Rather than argue about which items we could buy and when it was getting to be too much, I just started giving him some mad money. Most months, he doesn’t even spend it — or rarely spends much, anyway. But he knows it’s there for when something really does pique his interest.

    He doesn’t feel deprived, and we don’t argue about how much is too much.

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