How much do you budget for fun money each month?

This is the most frustrating category for me.  My husbands loves stuff-books, albums, audio gear etc.  Can easily spend $1000 a month on his hobbies.  I am no angel either, I love to sew and in the winter,  I ski.  I am trying to decrease our fun money to 400 each every month.  How much do others allocate?

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  • This is a totally personal decision based on your priorities and your income and expenses. Everybody will be different. Having said that, I think $1000 a month is pretty crazy but I guess it’s all relative. Are you saving plenty for the future? I personally try to grow my net worth most months and I don’t want to tread water.

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  • Ours is about 3% of our total budget. 

    Like 2
  • We get $50-100 a month depending on our income. Ours is 1/2% of our budget. What percentage is that $1000 of your total budget?

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  • How are you defining fun money? My husband gets ~15% of his income as discretionary spending, but frequently that will end up going for food (groceries/eating out/etc.). He's also not a spender, so it more than covers things he uses it for.

    I don't have a specific "fun" category, because it's basically my budget, so I have Netflix, a newspaper subscription, various other services subscriptions including Amazon, and couple different "hobby" categories. I think the hobby categories may be what others think of as the "fun" category, but I'm not actually sure, because many of the subscriptions are related to hobbies/relaxation things. The hobby categories get about $15-$45/month between them, thus far, and often get raided for things like "we went over the dining out budget this month."

    (Granted, I've only been doing this since March, so "often raided" means the last two months. I'm still trying to figure out the dining out budget...)

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      • KBR1957
      • Nurse Practitioner
      • Magenta_Lobster
      • 2 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Fuzzball Meows fun money is strictly discretionary.   I have a separate house fun category for things like our streaming services or activities we do together like movies or beach trips.  For me its usually sewing stuff or kitchen doodads or gear for my sports.  For him it's books, record albums, audio gear.  

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    • KBR1957 All of the categories I mentioned are strictly discretionary - they're not related to food, housing, telecommunications, transportation, or debt. We could stop paying for them and other than QOL decline, nothing would happen. Maybe  not even that.

      I don't have a fun/discretionary category for me because I want to keep an eye on/control what I spend on hobbies and QOL things (well, QOL for me, that is). So rather than having "plants" and "knitting" and "books" and "tv" all bundled into one category, I've split them out so that each discretionary thing I spend on has a category.

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    • KBR1957
    • Nurse Practitioner
    • Magenta_Lobster
    • 2 mths ago
    • 1
    • Reported - view

    It's definetely a category I want to trim.  It is solely for discretionary spending.  I put aside 11% for retirement plus $500 a month for savings.  We will be just ok in retirement.  I'm trying to wean our spending to have all debt except car and mortgage paid off before I retire in 3 years.  I am going to decrease it by 50% in order to more aggressively pay off a credit card with a 18 k balance.  If I can keep it to 600 a month for both of us it would be about 6% of my take home. 

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  • It's funny you mentioned $400 a month because that's what mine is. But I don't have any debts other than my mortgage. If I did, I guarantee you I wouldn't be spending $400 a month. More like $100. Tops. You are basically financing all these fun money purchases when you're concurrently paying interest on other debts. When I was in debt, that was my top priority. But that's the beauty of YNAB, it's all based on your priorities.

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  • $6.21 for each of us, but we have separate categories for combined entertainment and personal hobbies. We also have separate categories that build at $5/month for "Gifts from X."

    We never WAM from either of those, and it's completely available - no advance planning or questions asked. 

    In terms of the other "fun" categories, we make decisions on what we can afford based on our combined priorities. They're not based on a percentage of anyone's income, and they don't have to be quantitatively equal. Even if I personally am not enthralled with my husband's interests, it is important to me to respect them, and thankfully, he has the same perspective about mine. We balance them in the grand hierarchy of priorities, keeping in mind that extra $ for an instrument, supplies, or membership necessarily means less money for retirement/medical/technology savings. The money's got to come from somewhere, whether it's in the planning stages or in a spontaneous moment. 

    If we had large excesses of money, perhaps we wouldn't need to be so involved, but I would think the basic conversations would still need to be had to ensure that we weren't wasting money. Actually, if we won the lottery or got a huge raise/bonus, we already have specific, big ticket dreams to pursue, so I think we'd still try to maximize our dollars. Of course, part of those conversations would involve what the balance between stress, fun, absolute $ efficiency (mythical?), future planning, and grace/wiggle room should look like for the both of us. 

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  • 2% for me.

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      • Green Beat
      • Green_Beat.13
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Numbers Nerd we have literally 1% for me and 1% for the wife.

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  • I am in the camp of it is totally personal and what is your hobby? Is it a high cost one? Can you do it for less money? There is also the non-financial benefits of various hobbies/activities.

    For example, I am not good at doing fitness solo. I need the group aspect of it. I have really appreciated being able to do them on Zoom and now outside in small groups. It is super important for me both from a fitness aspect and a mental health aspect. So, my husband is fully supportive that we spend more money on a monthly basis for my fitness classes. 

    His hobby is outdoor maintenance of the yard etc. I would never spend the $ on the flowers/shrubs/yard stuff that makes him happy. Now, those $ are not fun money because it is property maintenance but that is also his hobby. 

    To me, it is really about having the discussion between you both and getting onto the same place on what your financial goals are. When these kinds of disagreements happen, it often means that there are non-budget issues happening. Is one person resentful of the other for imposed spending limits? Do you know where you want the money to go instead of the hobbies? 

    Like 2
  • I started with the fun money category as recommended and slowly broke out the repetitive stuff like books and colognes and just tracking them reigned them in again. I eventually broke out fast foods from the fun money because I often entertained myself by running to the corner store and grabbing a snack. This was a poor form of recreation so eventually this led me to break food down into three categories and two for them were once in fun money.

    I also just "drop in" for a cup of coffee.  This became dining out. To answer the question I (single) spend 60 a month for dining out, when i Sit down and about 115 for takeout when I'm on the run. Sit down or takeout is my new rule for categorizing. A year ago it was just mad money burning a whole in my wallet for who knows what. These numbers are way down from where I started as I found that that money can convert to groceries about 3 to 1. If I cut a hundred out of takeout, I only have to add 30 to groceries ! Broad categories going into more specific as time goes on and the tracking just brings it down and eventually over to savings/goals.

    This has also improved the quality of life, last year it was bags of burgers and fries, last week I had blackened salmon and vegetable sides, albeit on the my still present bachelor paper plates Lol, Someday those have to go too. 20 or 30 dollar dinner for about 8 bucks. Who lives better than us?

    Like 1
  • We get paid every 2 weeks, so 26 times a year. We budget everything off of 2 paychecks a month (24 months). So then the 2 extra paychecks (twice a year) is our fun money and we split it (we each get half the paychecks).

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  • Ooo, it's really fun to read about how everyone lays this out in their budgets. And that's really the thing - it's so personal! 

    My partner and I do $75/mo. "Fun Money" (any random thing that we want or that isn't covered by an existing category), but have developed quite a few "hobby" or "fun/entertainment" categories over time that get consistent amounts every month.

    Most of those were created when one of us got frustrated that we'd been hoarding our fun money for a hobby that we felt really committed to and thought deserved its own category. It's a system that's worked well for us, though 😆

    Like 1
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