by Erin Kidd, Guest Contributor
All work and no play? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Every single personal finance book I have read has included a budget category for fun or entertainment. It is unrealistic to think that striving for personal financial success means giving up everything that is good, fun, relaxing, exciting or a treat. A budget is only a tool to tell your money what to do and to reflect personal priorities – that is why it is PERSONAL finance.
To that end, I offer 4 reasons why you need a Treat Yo Self Fund:
To Stay On Track With Your Financial Goals
It seems counterintuitive, but it works. Setting aside a designated amount each week or month will help keep you on track with your other financial goals.
This works for a couple of reasons. Once you have a designated fund for yourself you won’t be as tempted to splurge or get an extra bit of cash out when you get groceries. Rather you have a strategic plan and purpose for each category of your budget. Purpose drives action.
Another reason this works is because it allows freedom within constraint. A personal allowance gives an adult a bit of fun money to spend as they like, without needing to check in with a spouse or significant other and without busting the budget. This fund is just as integral as saving for a family vacation, groceries or cellphone bills.
The best part about this budget category is that there is no requirement to spend these funds on necessary, boring or required activities.
The whole point is to plan for the impulsive, in order to stay on track with the financial plan.
To Slay The Resentment Monster
So much of military spouse life is spent feeling second on our spouse’s list of priorities. We know that they don’t have any choice in when or where they work, but it doesn’t make it any easier when they miss out on family activities and leave us to deal with the broken dishwasher. Doesn’t it always happen that way?
Knowing your fun money stash is there and you can spend it any way you like helps remind you that you are important too. Giving yourself a little treat – yoga mat, book, planner, new shoes or a chocolate bar you don’t have to share with anyone – can be a quick pick-me-up and way to remember that you are important and what you want is important, as well.
This is not to say that buying treats replaces communication, but sometimes you just need to treat yo self.
To Fill Your Empty Cup
When your life is centered around supporting a service member, it is easy for your emotional, physical and mental stores to be drained. There is a reason why flight attendants tell us to put on our oxygen masks before assisting our loved ones; we are no good to anyone if we are without air.
You cannot fill others from an empty cup.
Having a fund set aside to treat yourself is one way to remind yourself that you must take time out to replenish your spirit. One of my favorite rituals is a bubble bath on Sunday night. Inexpensive Epsom salts, bubble bath and a few minutes to myself gives me time to reflect on the past week, envision the coming week, and pretend I am at a spa for a few minutes.
To Get Exactly What You Want
You, more than anyone else, know what you want – your secret desire for root beer flavored lip gloss, the latest murder mystery novel, a subscription to a specific magazine or writing class. Your treat yo self fund can offer you a chance to explore exciting, funny, challenging or embarrassing desires without the need to reveal them or feel guilty tapping into your budget.
Explore that crazy urge to learn roller derby, watch those classic black and white movies, learn how to knit – whatever your heart wants, your fund can support.
Day in and day out you are working hard. The time comes, though, when it is time to recharge. An important element in being able to give of ourselves is recognizing the need to take care of ourselves too. As military spouses and as parents, employees, entrepreneurs and Household 6 it is easy to give up our personal needs.
Without treats, one experiences burnout.
Willpower is a muscle and a finite resource. Without strategic rewards, people become tired, irritable, stressed and deprived. Psychology Today published this article by Gretchen Rubin about why you must give yourself treats.
Here is the best part about the treat yo self fund. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be thoughtful.
Erin Kidd is a third-generation military spouse, Enrolled Agent, Accredited Financial Counselor®, and avid cook and eater, who believes economic success begins at the dinner table. You can find her on Twitter and at Tax Lady Erin.