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    February 2013
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    The Magic Key

    Tammy Johnston

    Okay, so last time we started to put together our working budget. We figured out our three main accounts: fixed expenses, flexible expenses, and the “save your budget” fund. This week we are going to talk about the magic key in making your budget work for the long term. And what is this magic key you ask? Well it happens to be making sure you have PLAY money built into your budget.

    Play money lets us enjoy life and rewards us for being good and sticking to our budget. By making sure that we have this fun money worked into our financial plan we eliminate the “need” to financially binge and fall off the success wagon.

    The first rule for play money is it has to be spent monthly. It can be little rewards and treats like going out to see a movie, going out for coffee or drinks with friends, or splurging on a pedicure or a computer game. All that is required is that it be something that you enjoy and makes you feel rich. These regular strokes to our ego make it easier to stay on track with our budget because it is not a sacrifice, it is something that allows us to achieve our longer term goals while enjoying life now.

    The second rule for play money is that both people in a partnership receive the exact same amount of play money regardless of income. This eliminates a lot of the unspoken power struggle in a relationship and allows both people to be nurtured emotionally as well as financially. Each person contributes unequally to the relationship in different areas. Some make more money, while the other person looks after more of the household chores, or handles more of the decision making responsibility. Play money is one of the ways we say to each other “I love you and I value all the contributions you make to our family.”

    The third rule for play money is no questions asked. It does not matter how you spend it as long as you enjoyed it and stayed within the budget. You do not have to defend your play money spending to anyone and you do not get to question your partner’s choices either. Personally I doubt I will ever understand my husband’s fascination with car and computer magazines as they are incredibly boring to me. He cannot fathom how I can happily keep my claws long, strong, and hot pink. Too each his own. We get to do what we love and what makes us happy.

    No matter how bad your financial situation might be or how deep in debt or how tight the budget is you absolutely must have some play money in your plan if you want it to work long term. Now think about what makes you smile and feel financially loved and fit it into your financial plan. I promise you that it is the magic key.

    “Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.”
    Michael Jordan

    The MONEY® Network