Why I Budget For Some “Unbudgeted” Spending

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Does the idea of a budget make your cringe? Are you wondering what in the world you are even doing on this site because it is all about saving and being savvy with your money?

You’ve come to the right post!

Hi, my name is Lance and I’m a recovering (typical) millennial male spender. I love craft beer, Taco Bell, eating when I’m hungry, bored, and itchy. I like high-priced electronic goods like everything Apple has ever made, and I always want the newest release. I like adventures, traveling, concerts, and sporting events. What do all these wonderful things have in common? They tend to come with a price tag.

Before I got married to my wife, Rayanne, I spent money on these types of things all the time, without any plan in place. That’s what college-aged guys do! We need to be free to just check our bank account or wallet and say, “Yes! I have enough for the Taco Bell value menu. Let’s go, boys!” at 1:30am on a Tuesday.

Why you need an adjustment period

When I got married, that Taco Bell train hit the end of the tracks. My wife liked to budget. She likes being in control of our dollars like little soldiers. Each one has to fall in line and be in good standing with her – reporting for duty and following orders. And without that control, we never would have been able to accomplish what we have…but I’ll be honest with you; it was hard to make that adjustment. Disclaimer: for the most part, even though I had started developing those so-called “bad habits,” I’ve always been fairly frugal and liked to have a nice cushion in my bank account. But, there are just some freedoms (like beer and greasy food money) a man needs. That’s why I strongly suggest an adjustment period. Sometimes you need to ease into a strict budget if you have some staunchly different habits formed around money. (Newlyweds and soon to be married folks, this doubles as marital advice. You’re welcome!)

Be willing to compromise a little

The way I eased into our strict, penny-pinching budget was by having a small budget line that I did not need to track. When we were cracking down on paying off our debt, and literally every dollar that didn’t go to the bare necessities went towards our debt, it was hard to battle my desire to go out for a beer with a group of friends or run to Taco Bell late at night more often than the budget allowed. So, Rayanne and I decided to let me have some freedom money. I was donating plasma on a weekly basis, making about $70 a week doing so. That became mine. All mine. I could do with it whatever I wanted and we pretended like it was not another income source to pay off our debt. For you dieters out there, it was my “cheat day.”

Here are some tips for creating your unbudgeted spending line:

  1. Realize you are a creature of habit

    The first step in realizing you have a problem is admitting you have one, right? Figure out what your bad spending habits are. Those things that you love to regularly do. Be positive in your thinking. Don’t think about limiting what you can spend on the things you love. Give yourself a little money and then look at it and say, “I have all this money to spend on the things I love!”

  2. Only create an unbudgeting spending line with an extra income source

    Make it your goal to find something extra. Don’t use income from your day job. Babysit, walk a dog, learn to code, donate plasma. You know the drill. If you give yourself a weekly allowance from your regular income, then you are only cheating yourself if you are truly going hard at paying off debt or being a budget ninja.

  3. Don’t include it in your spreadsheet or budgeting app/software

    Seriously. You have to cheat a little at first if budgeting is not something you are prone to do and if it makes you want to rip your hair out.

  4. Challenge yourself

    Once I started seeing how much money we were putting towards our debt, I started to get inspired. That extra $240 a month I made giving plasma started going a very long way because I was starting to budget that $240 instead of spend it aimlessly. I saw the power of budgeting. I don’t give plasma anymore, but the last 6 months I did, I started putting $100 a month into an investment app called Acorns (Which after 2 years has given me an 8% return).

  5. Eventually, give it up

    I’ve pretty much given up having a budget line that isn’t accounted for. I actually like to plan and track all of my spending now. (Yes, my college-aged self is kicking my own @$$.) Plus, we’ve taken the time to pay off our debt, so now I’ve got a little more “fun money” in the budget to spend regularly on some of the things I still love, like craft beer and Taco Bell.

Bonus: Being a better budgeter has made me a much better business owner, which has been pivotal in the early days of being self-employed.