Reader Q&A: Do you ever just splurge?!

Reader Q&A

It’s been a while since we’ve had a Q&A, but I’ve got a fun one today!

I just found your blog two weeks ago and I love it (Thank you!). After 14 years of marriage, my husband and I are finally making a budget – and trying to stick to it… I know this probably makes me sound awful, but I find it really difficult to never be able to splurge.

I don’t know if this is too personal, but I’m wondering — do you ever just splurge? Like, without having to account for every penny? And if so, how do you justify it to your husband or to yourself?

~ M.E.T., somewhere in New Jersey

M.E.T. already got this answer via email, but her question tickled me so much that I asked if I could share it on the blog.

So here’s my answer (and no, it’s not too personal).

Yes, I splurge. And no, I don’t have to “justify” it to my husband.

But it’s not because I take a budget-be-damned attitude. But rather, because we build “splurging” into our budget. We call it blow money – but you can call it splurge money, too.

Depending on how tight things are in a particular month, our “blow” category is anywhere from $10 – $50/person. (It hasn’t been $50 in a while :(.) This works for us because we both work from home, we’re pretty disciplined after doing this for 2.5 years, we appropriate for things like hair cuts and new clothing within our overall budget, and — when faced with the cold hard facts — there are just so many other things we’d rather do with our money.

But… we also recognized a long time ago that not having a ‘blow’ category made for lots of insane debates over the merit of purchases. Now, we each get our little bit of money and that money is OURS. No questions asked. (Within reason, of course. If DH was routinely buying lottery tickets with his $20, I might raise an eyebrow or two.)

But really, if DH wants to blow his blow money on comic books (which he doesn’t, but let’s say he did), I’d keep my big fat mouth shut. Because it’s HIS BLOW MONEY.

If I want to blow my blow money on fountain cokes (um… what? me?), he doesn’t say anything because it’s MY BLOW MONEY.

That’s how we roll. But I want to know what you guys do. Do you have a “blow money” category. How does it work at your house?


  1. Glad to see this post. We are reformulating our budget and ordering Dave Ramsey’s book to get more ideas about learning how to live within our means. One thing that’s been non-negotiable from the start is building in an “allowance” for each of us that’s ours to spend as we see fit without accountability to the other person. In fact, we are about to merge our checking accounts for the first time… but are considering keeping our individual ones open so our “allowance” money can go in there and we can keep those purchases private if we want (esp if they are gifts for the other person!) We both feel like having someone scrutinize every purchase we make pushes our buttons, so this is a way to avoid that. I’m HOPING we can each put $100 into our personal checking each month, eventually, but I don’t know if that will happen at first. That’s not just for splurges, it’s also for clothing and buying coffee if we forgot to bring it from home, etc. In addition, we need to put money into our joint checking that allows for REALITY… such as the fact that there are nights where with 2 special needs kids, one full-time student (and p/t working) parent and the other overworked full-time working parent, we will need to eat out. we can decide that “eating out” has to be pizza or chinese rather than more expensive fleishig restaurants our family prefers, but we can’t pretend we will not eat out even once in a month. that’s just called realistic budgeting. Same thing with groceries – I am gluten-free, we have kids, we are kosher, we are foodies, we are insanely busy… I simply cannot budget as though we will never buy a processed food product, a loaf of GF bread or a $7 block of gourmet kosher cheese again! that’s just not real life for us, despite how much I’d love to be baking and cooking from scratch 100%. but I can budget so that there’s room to occasionally (instead of regularly) buy those more expensive grocery items – i just also have to cut back in other areas, unlike what I’ve been doing which is spending indiscriminately at the grocery store and just hoping things work out when i tally things up at the end of the month.

    Would love at some point to see a post on choosing to have more children as a frum person and how finances influence that – Orthomom’s blog has some good writing about the financial pressures of Orthodox life and the choices we make about kids’ education.

    Also, on a random note, do you know about ThredUp? I just discovered it – I can send you a referral link if you want, it’s a way to swap boxes of kids’ clothing in a particular size.

    • Sorry it has taken me so long to get back to your comment, Tovah. I think you are RIGHT ON about being realistic about your own family and its specific needs. That is so important, and truly what makes personal finance PERSONAL.

  2. Tovah have you seen the orthonomics blog? It’s a must read for specifically frum issues.

    As for splurging — you have to build it into the budget for sure. Even Debtor’s Anonymous sometimes recommends that you sometimes *up* your “blow” budget item so you will be less tempted to “debt.”

    Another idea: When I feel a particular “urge to splurge” I find that going to the library and totally indulging myself in free books can really satisfy that need. I find the New Books section to particularly satisfying. It’s as if I just made a massive Amazon purchase.

    • yep, i love the orthonomics blog. but i’d love to read someone’s take on this stuff who is actually living on a really tight/strict budget. i feel like a lot of modern orthodox conversations about financial stuff is from the perspective of VERY financially comfortable people who are really only financially stressed because they’re paying 3 or more yeshiva tuitions. few frum people i know are willing to make serious compromises in order to live within their means.

      debtor’s anonymous – that’s totally true, i have friends in that program and they’ve also shared with me about blow money and being realistic.

      • I will think on your question and how/if I want to address it here… It’s not that I don’t want to share – but rather that I don’t know if I have anything elucidating to add. It’s a question we struggle with as well.

        By “serious compromises” are you referring to having less kids? Or not sending them to yeshiva? Or… something else entirely?

    • I like the library suggestion! Thrift stores can also satisfy that need for me. It’s not totally free, but I can walk out with lovely and useful things for less than $3, so it easily fits into the “blow” category!

  3. Right now my splurge is spending $25.00 on toilet paper and Kleenex at CVS to get $10.00 in ECB.

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