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Do You Need An Adult Allowance?

When you hear the word budget – how does it make you feel? For some of us, budgeting is a welcome concept we employ with great success in our financial lives. But what about you? Do you feel constrained by the idea of budgeting – like it does not allow you to have any fun? Do you hear the word budget and inwardly cringe, and feel sorry for those who live by their budget? Is budgeting a four letter word in your life? If so, an adult allowance might be the answer for you.

The idea of an allowance is one that most of us have been familiar with since childhood, but not in a necessarily positive way. An allowance is the way that someone else in authority exercised control over us and our spending, by allowing us (hence, allowance) a sum of money per week or month from their coffers that we could use as we wished.

Freedom vs. Control

But as an adult, giving yourself an allowance doesn’t have to be controlling. In fact, it can be very freeing. The concept of giving yourself an allowance is a simple one – when you set up your monthly (or weekly) budget, allocate some to yourself to do with as you wish. This is your allowance. It can be a small amount, or a not-so-small amount, depending on your situation. Budgeting yourself an allowance can be a way of being able to budget effectively and yet feel freedom to make fun and/or impulsive choices with our money as well.

Now vs. Later

We hear pay yourself first but that refers to saving for the future. There has to be a balance in our lives that involves spending for today as well. Not every minute of every day, can we consider just what will happen later. The allowance is the paying yourself first that gives us day to day flexibility instead of future flexibility. The combination of the two (paying yourself first for now and for later) gives you an added level of both security and freedom.

Ease or Eliminate Deprivation

For those who already work within a budget but are feeling a bit controlled by it, placing limits on spending lets you spend without guilt, but also keeps that spending to a reasonable and appropriate level. A common complaint about the concept of budgeting is the feeling of deprivation it gives. The allowance combats that by giving money in hand to spend on whatever you want without guilt – and that flexibility helps to ease or eliminate those feelings of deprivation.

You need to have some level of freedom to do what you want as well as need, or you’ll explode. And an allowance allows you to have that flexibility within the framework of a overall budget. You can make your money work for you by assigning it roles and keeping track of where it goes, yet build in a level of unexpected fun and flexibility for day to day or week to week expenses.

An Allowance Can Work Long Term, Too

But on the flip side, you don’t have to run out and spend just because you can. My husband, for a long time, desired a purchase that just wasn’t in our budget but also was not reasonable to spend a week’s or month’s allowance on – a Playstation 3. So he set up an ING savings account and saved most or all of his allocation every week, and eventually was able to make a big purchase without guilt, that has brought him a lot of enjoyment. Your allowance can work for your own personal long term goals as well as short term wants – it all depends on how you choose to use it.


An allowance gives you the ability to make choices. It is not a license to indulge in anything and everything, and inherent in that is the beauty of the allowance. If the idea of budgeting makes your skin crawl – give the adult allowance a try. Spend unexpectedly only within a preconceived limit, and add a little bit of budgeting within a network of flexibility. You might be surprised at the outcome.

Have you tried an allowance?

(Photo: photophonic [3])