Mad Money

Tomorrow being the first day of March let’s engage in some March Madness. I belong to a social media group with the mission of organizing our lives.  Organizing also means decluttering.  Simplifying.  Divesting oneself of unnecessary baggage in oh so many ways.  After all this work, we don’t want to purge and then replenish our stash of stuff with new stuff.  That thought brings to mind the need for a budget.  

My challenge to my online group is to create a budget during the month of March.  I decided to offer up the same challenge to my readers.  However, I’m challenging everyone to include a line item named Mad Money and personalize what that means to you. 

You have a budget, you say?  Well, I have a few things I want to say about budgeting and Mad Money, but you already knew that.

About 30 years ago when I devised the first real family budget, I made it so restrictive, there was no room for fun, frivolity, serendipity.  The budget came out of arguments over, yes, you guessed it, money.  Like most couples Martin and I had our money vices.  I was perplexed when he opened his palm one day to proudly display a pair of red anodized nuts or bolts or some hardware to shave a gram off the weight of his bicycle.  They cost $6 each!  Remember, we’re talking circa 1990 here.  As I expressed my ire, he served me a comeuppance reminding me about my exploits at the garden center.

After setting the budget, it didn’t take long to figure out it needed to be a tad bit fluid so a Miscellaneous line item was added.  And, the line item that probably saved our marriage and continued our hobbies among other things — Blow Money.  Blow Money was simply my term for my and Martin’s personal allowances.  It could just as easily be called allowance money, enjoyment money, don’t want to be on my deathbed with regrets money, hobby money, impulse money or anything else I decided to call it.  Today I call it Mad Money removing any connotation that it has anything to do with cocaine!

Aside from the fact that our personal allowances meant we could go mad, as in crazy mad, buying anything within its limits, having a set amount to spend on plants or whatever each month taught me something.  This was money with no holds barred.  No questions from the other.  No judgment.  However, having it somehow changed the dynamic.  

For example, I’ve been invited to my share of kitchen parties, home decor parties, candle parties and whatever else parties someone could come up with to sell products.  The guys reading this were most likely spared from this part of the capitalist agenda.  Having Mad Money didn’t make me go crazy about what I bought.  It did exactly the opposite.  It made me more thoughtful, more mindful, more judicious about the choices I made.  Having a finite amount of money to spend made me think twice about that kitchen gadget, vase or scented candle.  It even made me think about that pretty plant I saw at the garden center.  Impulse purchases all but disappeared.  If an item didn’t shout out to me in a great big bellowing voice, I walked away from it.  

As a result, I have my share of stuff, but you’ll find I still have plenty of empty space on my walls, tables, desks, floors and the garden, as well.  It’s what I call negative space, which calls attention to the things I love, much of which has been a part of my home landscape for decades.  It also makes my yearly declutter, organizing venture very manageable.  And, the more things you have, the more complicated your life.  All that extraneous stuff needs cleaning or repair or servicing as well as space.  It takes your time, your energy, your spirit. 

Going a little mad this March as in Mad Money may help you organize, declutter, simplify, pare down, with spirit lifted and energy to spare.  Let me know if you take up the challenge or already have a budget including Mad Money in your life and what you do with it.

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12 comments on “Mad Money

  1. My mad money goes to a home delivery meal service that delivers 3 dinners for 2, which often stretches to 4 or 5 meals. We get recipes and ingredients I would never think to put together. There’s a lot of prep, but I enjoy cooking….and eating.
    We have a great place for give-away items in town called the Free Store. One can drop useful, decorative things off and pick something up (rare for me) at zero cost. Folks from needy families especially appreciate useful things that work well like cookware, etc.

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  2. Maybe since my husband and I were married late in life, we have his, hers, and ours money. Fortunately, we are both pretty fiscally responsible so we never get heartburn about what the other spends. Having at least some money to spend how one wants is so important, and no one wants to be put in the role of always saying NO as keeper of the purse strings.

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    • You make a very good point. Martin and I were quite young (and immature) when we married so everything was pooled. Creating a budget with a line item for personal spending was a step in the direction of maturity and financial independence.

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  3. It is nice to be able to put aside a little cash every now and then for some mad money splurges! This way I don’t feel like I am taking away from our own needs and can purchase or give to whatever I feel is important at the time.

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  4. I love the name Mad Money! My money gets Mad sometimes when I spend it on something I later regret LOL. In truth my Mad Money categories are clothing, massages and yoga, books, my club and coffee/lunching expenses. Hubby’s are pickleball equipment, buying meals for family members as he likes to pick up the check, and some solo travel – he’s not a spender thank goodness. We also have a miscellaneous category for things that don’t fit anywhere else and for balancing the month’s budget when we forget where we spent our cash.

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    • It looks like you’ve covered it all! You are fortunate as you are both controlling expenditures and know what you’re spending on. Since I started out my career working as a bank teller, I’ve always been the keeper of the purse strings and Martin was, at one time, a spender. The Mad Money created better habits for him as he also became more thoughtful about his spending. So, budgeting was more manageable and holes in our spending were easier to track. With today’s online banking it’s a lot easier to track spending.

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  5. We each get no-accountability money of $30 a week each, up from a modest $10 a week way back when we first got married. It is indeed nice to have a little cash to spend as we each choose, no explanations necessary. Often we’ll end up treating each other to lunch or coffee ‘just because.’ It’s nice! Otherwise, my no-accountability money goes to either costume jewelry or meals out with my gal pals. Hubby spends his on similar with his guy pals, or on iTunes downloads. No judgement from either of us on the other’s spending choices as a result.

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  6. Great read. My hubby and I call our splurge money Knit- Knack money. It started at $25 each pay period when we were newlyweds and broke then increased to $50 when we had kids! Now that we are empty nesters we budget $100 each pay period for Knit-Knacks so we never ever feel deprived in our senior years! Lol

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  7. Yes I love this, we do the same thing but just call it our “pocket money” 🙂 The wife and I tried budgeting and it always felt so restrictive. The simple change of have some totally mad money as you call it, that you can do whatever you want with, was enough to make sticking to the budget so much easier.

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