Creating Balance With Fun Money

If you gave up your morning coffee for a year, you could make an extra mortgage payment. But man, you’d be grumpy.
~Citibank advertisement

I saw this quote in the book that I’m reading Wealthy Spirit and I have to admit to having a good laugh. It is so true. 

You are encouraged to give up spending and put that money to creating your financial goals – to become debt free, to create a lifestyle that you dream of – and don’t get me wrong, I’m a total fan of doing that – but you do need to think before you start randomly slashing your expenses.

When your income coming in is limited, it’s easy to feel restricted. I wrote recently about creating a low budget for when times are a bit tough and you have to spend only on the essentials. But part of any budget – low, medium or high – needs to have a category for “fun money” – however small it may be.

If you don’t put some money aside for you to enjoy and splurge on whatever you want, it’s a question of when, not if, you’ll fall off the bandwagon. 

The bottom line is that it comes back to your priorities.

  • What is the most important goal you have to achieve?

  • What is your why?

Once you know the answers to these questions, you can work on creating ways to keep this uppermost in your mind and help you through those difficult times.

Then consider the following:

  • What can you absolutely live without to help you achieve this?

  • What are nice extras, but not vital to your existence?

These are the things that you can drop from your spending without batting an eyelid.

However … if your morning cup of (quality) coffee is an absolute essential for you – then allow yourself that pleasure. Enjoy it without any guilt. 

Do not grab it on the run and gulp it down without being able to savour every mouthful. Give yourself the time and space to appreciate the aroma and the feeling of timelessness while you enjoy your cuppa. 

Find something that light’s you up and take the time to enjoy it. Don’t make this the item that you remove from your expense list (unless it is totally prohibitively expensive, or bad for your health and welfare!)

You can still enjoy your life now and save for your future/pay off debt/achieve your goal. This isn’t an either/or game. This is a win-win game. You get to make the rules. 

This is about making happiness now a priority. Not only when you achieve your financial goals. It’s not about financial hardship for the good life later on. If you don’t enjoy your life now, 

  1. You may not have a later to enjoy it and/or

  2. You may be filled with resentment for the sacrifices you made that others don’t appreciate.

Take the time to find activities that don’t need you to spend money. Discover the pleasure of:

  • spending time in nature,

  • connecting with people in different ways

Try connecting with people without food being involved! So often the get together becomes all about the meal. You end up spending time in the preparation, eating and then tidying up and then, just as you’re ready to relax and enjoy everyone’s company – it’s time for them to go!

A few years back we went back to South Africa to celebrate my Mom’s 80th birthday. As we were going to be there over Christmas, and my brother and I were both coming from overseas with our families, we didn’t want to impose on anyone for all that time for accommodation, we spent a week (which included Christmas Day) down the coast where each family had their own accommodation. This gave us space for when we did not want to be part of the crowd. We organised our own breakfast and lunch and had dinner together. 

The biggest win from this holiday was that it wasn’t just about the meals. After each meal we had the time to relax and enjoy each other’s company. To spend time on the beach, playing boardgames, talking, or whatever else we desired. There was no rush after each meal that I’ve found there is when you visit someone for a catch up meal.

Leonie Dawson has a great way of dealing with things when she gets down. She makes a list of how to deal with “the suckies”. Adapt this and make a list of how to deal with mindless retail (online) therapy. 

Make sure you take time out for yourself regularly.


Schedule it, if need be.

Take time to appreciate being YOU.

In summary – here’s how to have a life while achieving your goals:

  1. Be very clear on what you want.

  2. Make a plan on how to get there.

  3. Make sure you have room to breathe and have fun on the journey!

  4. Follow the plan.

  5. Have supporters to keep you on track. (Work on becoming your own best cheerleader)

  6. Acknowledge your progress. Keep your eye on the goal, but don’t forget where you’ve come from and what you’ve learnt.

Life is to be enjoyed every moment of every day – not slogging away for some unknown time in the future that may never come!

Share with us below how you make sure you still have fun when on a budget.

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