My wife has a spending problem.
And not the bad kind either. My wife was raised to be frugal with her money, and as such struggles with making any purchases for herself. Even if she plans and saves her money with the intent of buying something for herself, she often struggles with some feelings of guilt for buying ANYTHING. We spend a lot of time both on this site and in person advocating for saving as much as you can each month and limiting your expenses. But what happens with all that money you saved? Is spending money itself bad?
Money Is For Spending
Financial stability is always the goal. At all times, you should be able to cover your necessities
and have some saving set aside for emergencies. But that doesn’t mean you need to stop living completely until you retire! One of my favorite memories in college was when I finally decided to buy a motorcycle. At the time, I was driving a car that would break down every other week, was commuting to school to save money, and was in year 5 of college. I took a small chunk of money I had saved, and bought an affordable motorcycle.
I will admit, it wasn’t as wise a choice as if I had invested that money into a retirement account or used it to pay off my student debt faster. What it did for me though, was make me incredibly happy! I began to look forward to my commute each day, I had a reliable vehicle (provided the weather was good), and I acknowledged to myself that I didn’t want to put off my entire life until one day after college. I still own that bike to this day, and happily drive it any time I can! It is my little escape that reminds me I don’t have to wait FOREVER to get some of the things I want in life.
Mad Money: A Special Kind of Budget
My wife’s parents use a system for spending called “Mad Money” and I find it to be both brilliant and effective. Both of my parents-in-law have their own jobs and their own personal hobbies. My father-in-law loves cars. In fact, if you want to find him at home, 9/10 times you can find him in the garage half way into whatever new fixer-upper he has just come upon. My mother-in-law on the other hand enjoys getaway camping trips to the beach or any taste of adventure she can find. They have both agreed to use a system where any time either of them wants to spend money on a sizable purchase, they can do so using their Mad Money. How do you get Mad Money? They define mad money as any money they bring in OUTSIDE their normal income. Make some money from a garage sale? Mad Money! Get a Christmas bonus? Mad Money! Work on a side hustle to bring in more money? Mad Money!
Spend Without Guilt
The reason their system works so well, is because it gives them the ability to act rashly and pursue theirs hearts desire without worrying about negatively impacting the family. My father-in-law will go through waves of selling off the vehicles he has fixed up, and that money he makes goes back into his Mad Money account. There have been plenty of times when I have showed up to the house, with some new project car, or truck, scooter, or whatever ridiculous/fantastic new thing he has found. He can buy whatever project he wants with his this money WITHOUT GUILT OR WORRY, because he knows the regular expenses are covered. Think about it. With a system like this, you can both give the “spender” in the family an avenue to buy as they please, while also allowing the “saver” in the family to have a safe and clearly defined way to spend on themselves or others without guilt, because it is outside the normal budget.
Pedal To The Metal
4 years down the road, I find myself at a similar junction to where I was when I bought my bike. Stuck in the routine of the day in and day out, saving for “One day” and trying to pay down my debt as quickly as possible. I have been devoting all of my side money, my main money, and anything else I can come by towards my student loans. But with spring on the horizon, I have decided to change my plan up a little bit, and set aside some of my Mad Money along with my wife’s to get her a motorcycle as well, so that together we can ride off into the sunset. It will be affordable and a little bit of a fixer-upper, so that we can sell it again later if she doesn’t like riding on her own. Long term saving is important, and having a plan for your money is by far the best way to go. Just make sure in all your saving and planning, you leave some time to stop and smell the flowers on the side of the road.
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