You probably know to plan and save for the big and boring expenses, aka financial needs. But what about the…
You probably know to plan and save for the big and boring expenses, aka financial needs. But what about the fun stuff? Expenses that don’t put a roof over your head, but do provide joy, rejuvenation and other hard-to-quantify benefits are worth saving for, too.
In fact, they deserve their own account, says Delia Fernandez, a Los Alamitos, California-based certified financial planner.
“Figure out what keeps you going, what makes all of this worthwhile to you, and put money aside to make that happen,” she says.
WHAT KINDS OF EXPENSES ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?
When it comes to feel-good expenses, each person has their own preferences, says Aja Evans, a New York-based financial therapist and licensed mental health counselor. For example, some people would find an intense cycling class to be energizing and confidence-boosting. Others would rather do pretty much anything else.
Consider which goods, services and activities typically bring you joy. Yes, your budget will determine what, exactly, you can afford. But, for now, reflect. Fernandez asks: “What’s going to get you through these times? And what makes your life valuable? What refreshes you; what inspires you?”
A few ideas: services like massages; goods like fresh flowers; activities like vacations and date nights.
WHY SHOULD I SET UP A FEEL-GOOD ACCOUNT?
Earmarking money for these kinds of expenditures may help you be more intentional with spending. For example, say you put $25 from each paycheck in a vacation fund. With that money safely stashed, you can’t mindlessly spend it on impulse purchases.
You’re also protecting that money from financial demands. Otherwise, if all your available money were in one bucket, Evans says your self-care spending would likely be the first to cut when money is tight.
By devoting money to a specific kind of expense — be it a mortgage or manicure — you’re creating a budget. And budgets help prevent you from overspending.
Say you have up to $50 to spend each month on brunch with friends, and you’ve already spent $35. This weekend, maybe you still enjoy brunch but skip the mimosa that would put you over the $15 you have left.
Ideally, this plan also hedges any potential guilt about spending money on yourself. As Fernandez says: “You put it aside for that purpose.”
HOW DO I SWING THIS IN MY BUDGET?
Hopefully you’ve been convinced to treat yourself in the new year. Now plan for those treats.
One way to determine how much you can afford to spend is to apply the 50/30/20 rule to your monthly take-home income.
The goal of this budget method is to split your money as such: 50% toward needs, 30% toward wants and 20% toward savings and debt repayment. If you follow that framework, your new feel-good fund would come from that “wants” category.
Not trying to officially budget at this point? Here’s another approach: Start with your monthly after-tax income, then subtract all the necessary expenses (needs), which include housing, food, transportation, basic utilities, insurance, child care and other expenses that enable you …….