I recently got back from a family vacation to the beach and had an experience that is worth exploring. My youngest daughter was hesitant to take her spending money that she’s been working on building up for quite some time. Each week she and her sister work for a commission. We don’t give allowances because in life if you want to get paid you have to work. Better to learn that now then having that dose of reality set in when they get older (but I digress). So, as they work for their commission, they are taught to separate the money into three categories. Giving, Saving and Spending. The percentages are flexible at this age, but this basic structure applies to every budget we coach.
I found it interesting that she did not want to take the money as it was important for her to hold on to the spending money. Now I’m not saying that as soon as you get a few dollars saved in spending that you need to hit the town. However, don’t have such a tight grip on your money that when you have an opportunity to enjoy it you miss it. We had a long talk about how God wants us to be good stewards and how she has been a faithful giver and saver so it was okay to bring her money on vacation in case she saw something she wanted. In her case it was a tee shirt with a turtle on it. This shirt she’ll remember because she earned it and the joy she had while selecting and ultimately buying it was a big step in her appreciation of money.
Sometimes when starting a budget or attacking debt you can get so intense on sticking to the plan that letting go can be difficult. When you begin budgeting and build your spending money to a certain level it is okay to enjoy it. I recommend that each month the budget should have a section for each family member that is allocated for fun money. This is essentially your “spending” money as I’m teaching my kids, but adults need that permission also. This amount varies for each family, but the principal is the same. Give first, save for the future and enjoy spending what you worked hard for. God will bless a good steward. Stay focused while loosening your grip – we can show you how.