Allowances for Adults?

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You betcha.

Once upon a time, before we were married, Greg and I quit our jobs and took a round-the-world trip. Now as frugal as we like to consider ourselves, we both love to gamble. We will happily skimp in other areas, like toilet paper and soap, before we cut back on our gambling money. We don’t like, buy lotto tickets or anything… much… but man, if there’s a $5 Let It Ride table, count us in.

For the big trip we pooled our money together in a kitty so neither of us were paying more than the other for anything. {Side note: We budgeted $20k each, but only spent $16k total– holla!} {Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.} I especially love to gamble in other countries, although I learned an important lesson in Quito, Ecuador when I couldn’t figure out how to cash out and no one spoke English. Always have Google translate on your person, or learn the local phrase for “I want my money”.

Back to our big trip. We found a hot blackjack table in Costa del Mar, Spain and made enough to pay our next couple nights of lodging and we just assumed we were on a roll. That was two weeks into our six month trip and the absolute end of our winning streak.

Mmm smells like winning.

Shortly thereafter we boarded a cruise ship for a two-week sail from Barcelona through the Suez Canal to Dubai. You know what they have on cruise ships? Casinos. We visited briefly a couple of times, and one fateful night Greg went back to the blackjack table. Again, he was hot. So hot I had to get in on the action. And it all went downhill from there. I lost, Greg lost. And he got pissed that I sat down in the middle of a ‘heater’, and I got pissed that he got pissed. I got up and he tried to win back what he’d lost, but of course he lost some more.

Mama loves gimmicky machines.

That was six years ago and he still talks about it. But that wasn’t the fateful night that threw us into full blown allowances. No, that was a few months later in Darwin, Australia, after we’d lost at every other casino between Spain and Singapore. In Darwin I had actually won a bit on some goofy Native American buffalo dream catcher red-tailed hawk scream machine and was on a real high, but Greg thought he should give Blackjack another go. Per usual he lost and lost. We are not bad Blackjackers, we know what we’re doing; we were just on one huge losing streak. I told him he should get up. Stop. Stop playing. Get up from the table, Greg.

That’s it! From now on we’re gambling with our personal money, not “our” money. Thus, our allowances were born.

Nowadays our individual allowances fund our gambling, clothes, shoes, makeup, perfume/cologne, haircuts, personal gear (a new pack or hiking boots) but not “our” gear (like a tent or sleeping bag), and going out to eat without the other. Work clothes/shoes come out of “our” money, otherwise anything that doesn’t benefit the other comes out of our allowances. If we can’t agree on an expense we either don’t buy it, or it comes out of our allowances. 

 

Take a guess what Greg and I never fight about.

 

Money. He wants a new Rizzo jersey, it comes out of his allowance. I want a $20 tube of mascara, it comes out of my allowance. The only time we bicker about money is when one of us is being a bit too frugal about something we want or need. Namely, eating in airports. I’m uhh, I’m against it. 

Note: Gifts for other people come out of our Gift/Giving fund, but gifts for each other, should we ever buy them, come out of our allowances. I think buying gifts for each other out of shared money might be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of. Thanks… for spending my money… that I didn’t want to, or budget for. Really “appreciate” your “thoughtfulness”.

We share all our money because we’re married, and also adults, but keep our individual allowances in separate free, interest-bearing checking accounts. Like all the rest of our spending, we put all allowance purchases on a credit card and every month I pick a new one to use and pay off entirely. Of course just using the debit card that comes with the checking account works too, but you know how we love those miles and points. We always go through a cash back portal when shopping online, but the cash back we earn through allowance purchases goes into our joint “Side Hustle” savings account, not back into our allowance accounts. It’s just easier than trying to figure out who earned cash back for what. 

Two years ago I flew to London by myself on my allowance, and Greg has flown to watch the Cubs by himself on his allowance. After he went to the Cubs series in Atlanta last summer I decided having to use our allowances for personal getaways was counterproductive, because they do, in fact, benefit the both of us, and we shouldn’t hesitate to get away due to a financial restriction. A couple of nights away from the one we love the most about makes our hearts explode for each other. And I know that neither of us are going to spend out of our way, just because we’re using “our” money. Looking at you, Chick-Fil-A Warcken.

We initially funded our separate checking accounts with $2,500.00 apiece, and have continued to fund them with anywhere from 2-5% of our incomes, divided between us. In fact at one point we were dividing 10%, which is ludacris. We could be early-retired right now, spending that kind of bread on crap we really don’t need. Now we each get $50/month. Typically Greg never spends any money so he always has a few hundred more than me, but after putting myself on a clothing and cosmetics freeze last fall I’m officially a few dollars over him. Suck it, Gregory!

Once I was super sad about my having so little and his having so much that he offered to put our allowances together and divide them equally. Which we did, but just that once. Thank you, Greggles. I’m sorry I told you to suck it.

Our allowances are meant to be our spend-it-however-the-hell-you-want money so there’s never any judgment or shade thrown for things we buy ourselves that the other person may not agree with. There’s really only one con to having separate allowances, but it’s one that about makes my head explode. That’s when one person lets the other person spend their personal money on something they won’t agree should be a shared expense, then uses whatever the other person has bought for the sake of saving their own personal money. GET YOUR OWN BINOCULARS, GREG. Jesus.

Note: This isn’t malicious behavior, just space-cadety. My suggestion is to offer to buy the item yourself, out of their allowance of course, and don’t forget to go through a cash back portal. Problem solved! 

Note: Greg recently bought his own binoculars.

 

I truly believe having separate allowances is one of our marriage’s greatest strengths. Having been married to a not-at-all-fiscally-minded-partner before, I know what it’s like to fight about money and I never, never, never want to be in that situation again. I love knowing I can trust my husband with our money, I love that he knows he can trust me with our money, and I love that we share everything we make, save, and invest except for this little bit we set aside every month to blow on whatever the hell we want. What a joy.

Do you and your partner use allowances? Why or why not? Check yes or no.

 

Just two young kids, looking out toward a future of financial freedom.
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2 thoughts on “Allowances for Adults?

  1. $20 for mascara….sheeesh, really? I would think that a cheap tin of KIWI black shoe polish would accomplish the same alluring effect!

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