Sunday, July 25, 2010

Planned Spontaneity

I told Ted the other day that our family needs a spontaneity jar in our household weekly budget. He said if we had one it would have to be named the "perpetually empty" jar. And in our household, it's true. I love being spontaneous, and making fun plans when I get the chance. Luckily I am married to someone who balances that out a bit, someone who's grounded, and who enjoys having and making a plan.

This past weekend we had a barbecue to say "bye for now" to the friends we are leaving behind when we move. I had been thinking about hosting some people for a while, but wasn't sure what the right time was, or the right kind of event. I visited a friend at work, and brought the idea up with him, and it just took off. I set a date, started inviting people, was happily planning the menu and THEN remembered to tell my husband. It was at that point that my husband brought up one of the more mundane planning details, "Soooo, where is the money for this event actually going to be coming from?" Right. What a buzzkill. Valid, valid buzzkill. He knew I definitely had our budget for the next few weeks very much tied up already. We were hosting some friends for a few days, we had groceries to buy and cars to fill up, and there are so many little things that need to be bought in connection to the move that I had no real flex.

I needed to be reminded that plans require plans. So we sat down and had a spontaneous budget meeting. Not nearly as much fun as a barbecue. I presented my case that hosting people is important, and that taking the time to say goodbye and thanks for the friendship is important. Ted replied that he agreed with that sentiment entirely, but an event like this shouldn't be drawn from our grocery budget, because it's not groceries we're buying, it's event food. Ted helpfully suggested a compromise. What if my future personal spending money (allowance) was garnished, to pay for the spontaneous plans I had made? (In our household we decided to give ourselves personal spending allowances rather than having an entertainment budget for the household. Once our family is a bit bigger and have kids that are a little older we'll probably reconsider the need for an entertainment jar.)
We were both so happy with this compromise. The big deal for me was getting the chance to have our goodbyes here, to spend a little to get a lot back. Having personal spending money once we've moved is not as important to me as it is here. We compromised. We made a plan we could both live with. We didn't have to compromise our weekly cash budget. This whole experience made me look forward to the Monthly Money Meetings we'll be starting in the new house, so we can do productive communicating like this more often. And hopefully we'll still have flexibility for some fun in there too.

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