Sunday, December 29, 2013

What are Fun Dollars?

This is a year-long blog (maybe more) about what I do with each installment of Fun Dollars. What are fun dollars? They are the dollars you pay yourself out of each paycheck. They have no strings attached, you spend them however you see fit. No one can contest the spending of your fun dollars. The only catch is that once they're gone, they're gone, until the next paycheck.

 This was something that I had heard about right after I was married in 2004. A friend of mine that I worked with told me about how she and her husband each get $20 every time there is a paycheck. He can't tell her how to spend hers, and she can't tell him how to spend his. She liked to buy things like nail polish, movies and makeup. He liked to buy food, like ice cream and pizza. I loved this idea, but it wasn't until 2012 that my husband and I finally implemented the fun dollars system.

We had just bought a house earlier that spring (the week after Easter, as well as tax week) and we had a need for controlled spending. Before that, my husband had been on a spending spree on eBay buying up vintage Lego sets from his childhood. I had a notorious streak for going to Wendy's and Burger King way too often, pretty much any time I was with my son in the car. "Hey, Kiddo, how about a frosty?" Ya know, that kind of thing. Together, we were spending more than we should. Also, on top of just closing on a house, I found out I was pregnant almost a month later. So we were now turning from a family of 3 into a family of 4, with mom staying at home post-pardum.

The catalyst began after Corey (my husband) attended the Millionaire Mind Intensive in Phoenix. He came home all excited about this "jar system". Basically there are jars intended for different uses. Whenever you get paid, you put a certain amount/percentage into each jar. We tried doing bank account jars. We opened like 7 bank accounts, one for each "jar" and set up automatic transfers each month. We quickly learned that this virtual system didn't really work for us. We closed many of the accounts, and just modified how we saved our money. The part of this system that stuck with us was our own personal fun dollar allotment.

We decided that each paycheck my husband received $100.00 (I was working part time then, and most of my money went towards daycare. Since his paychecks dwarfed mine, we just used the fun dollars when he got paid.) Now, if you break this down into a percentage, our fun dollars for the entire year were less than 5% of our household income.

Since August of 2012, we have used a cash fun dollars system. We even incorporated our son into the system this summer. He and I (and his new baby sister) would go garage sale-ing about once a month. He would always get so excited about it. I asked Corey at one of our family meetings if Carrick could get his own fun dollar allotment so I wouldn't have to keep funding his garage sale-ing habit :) So each time we get our fun dollars, Carrick gets $10. (It started out as $8.00, a biweekly installment of $4.00 since he was 4 years old. Now that he is almost 5, we upped it by one dollar each week.) This is his "allowance" but we call it fun dollars to him as well. This teaches him that he can buy his own snacks, candy, toys, books, whatever. We kind of guide him with his decisions, but mostly, it's up to him. He even saved his fun dollars one week and waited until his next installment just so he could buy a bigger toy.

This blog is to chronicle what I do with my fun dollars this year. I have some very high hopes, like flying my family to Illinois for Christmas, partially funding a "bank-free" Christmas (not draining more out of our bank account to fund Christmas presents, etc.), and go on a family vacation for our 10th anniversary. (I won't be funding the entire thing, we have a separate "Family Play" account, but having my own fun dollars on vacation will be part of the fun :)

Join me on my journey. I also encourage you to find some version of the fun dollars system that works for you and those in your household. Happy Spending :)