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piggy bank

by Claudia Esguerra, CUNA MoneyMix blogger

Have you ever gone on a diet and not given yourself a ‘free’ day (or a ‘cheat day’ as some may call it)?

What happens after the first few days of walking the line and eating absolutely clean? Well, for some of us, that box of Oreos we forgot to take out of the pantry before starting the diet can be our Kryptonite. We give in, and (in my case) eat the entire box.

What does this all have to do with finance, you ask? I have a point, I promise!

When I first started doing my hard-core budgeting, where every penny was accounted for (quite literally) I made the mistake of not allocating funds for entertainment. I forgot the fun fund! After the first couple of months of wondering why it wasn’t working out the way it should have been (according to my calculations on paper), I started tracking the ‘impulse’ buys.

Pizza on a Friday night after a long week, movie tickets, gas to take the boys on a day trip. I had been so caught up sticking to my financial diet that I overlooked our family’s need for fun time together, and the expenses that might entail. I averaged what we spent over a couple of months and did my best to budget what we could afford to spend in one month for entertainment. Now our fun fund allows us to go out with the kids on semispontaneous trips (I plan these spontaneous trips secretly ahead of time) without derailing our budget.

Everyone should have a fun fund, a set amount each month that you have set aside for entertainment. Ours includes eating out, movie tickets, entrance fees to attractions, babysitting fees, as well as other things.

“All work and no play” won’t necessarily make us dull, but it probably will mess up our budget because it isn’t a realistic expectation.

Copyright 2014 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.