Why having a “FUN” fund is important.

April 23, 2012

Life is a funny thing. Our best laid plans are often thrown by the wayside and we take a turn into a direction that we never thought possible. Sometimes everything changes and sometimes nothing does, but all in all, I have learned to never count on things unfolding the way that I want them to. I am a very big believer that you need to make yourself a priority, because, lets face it, no one else will. This priority that I speak of encompasses finances, health, appearance, and all around well being. Now you may wonder why I’m mentioning this in a personal finance blog. Well, the truth is that a lot of us don’t focus on living life when we get into the “debt snowball” phase. Yes, paying off debt is important, and yes I rather own a house that I pay money into every month than my student loans, but there has to be a compromise. There simply must.

I, like every other female, have days when I simply feel the urge to buy something shiny. No, I don’t mean bling, but something classy, that helps me feel a bit more in control when things simply aren’t progressing according to plan. I like being frugal, and watching where I spend my money. I think anyone who recognizes their financial situation would, but I also take time out to do things that I really enjoy doing. Whether its a new shade of nail polish, sushi with friends, soccer, or travelling; I do things that bring me joy.

I think I may get stoned for saying this, but I wholeheartedly believe that a “fun” fund is one of my top priorities, and it should be yours as well. There are studies done that talk about debt fatigue. Debt fatigue essentially a mental phase where individuals are mentally can not cope with the slow reduction in their overall debt and start going the other way instead. I recognize that the money  that I spend on hobbies could be allocated to pay off some interest on my student loans, but in all honestly, I couldn’t care less. My thinking goes like this, we live life once. Now we spend 2-3 years of our lives eating rice and noodles to become debt free, or enjoy the life “in moderation” and go along for the ride.

My love of travel is quite apparent on this blog.  There is nothing quite like sitting on the stairs in the middle of Times Square at 2 am answering emails. Nothing beats that feeling. Nothing.

When I started this blog, it was meant to be a diary of some sorts, a journey to help me stay accountable in my quest to become debt free. Somewhere along the way I discovered this great big world of personal finance. Now the world of personal finance is great, its a great community where everyone is extremely supportive and motivating. This is where I failed. While I had/have every intention of directing every single penny towards debt repayment, I somehow created a secret fun fund instead.

I couldn’t do it. I tried, oh believe me I tried to be as disciplined as most, but I couldn’t. I value my experiences so much more than I thought I did. As I result I felt like there was something wrong with me. With the way I handled my finances; with the things that motivated. Turns out that my priorities are just different than most.  While being paying off my car, clearing up my credit card made me really proud and happy, I needed little things as pick me ups.

And you know what? There is nothing wrong with that. You deserve everything that makes you happy, as long as there is an end goal in play. As long was you are ok with end result of your choices. I know that paying for soccer allows me to keep active and spend 3 hours a week with friends, and I finally alright with the costs.

Just in case anyone felt judgy (not sure if that is a word) here is a list of things that make me smile…even though they cost money.


Ps. Apologies for the lousy graphic- its my first time with Adobe Illustrator.



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  • SB @ One Cent At A Time April 23, 2012 at 11:40 am

    Why should you be stoned, I would rather flower you 🙂 fun fund is important for me as well. I posted long time back about how important it is to spend on fun while you embark on frugal journey.

    • Marissa April 23, 2012 at 4:37 pm

      Sometimes me and you have the same thoughts.

  • Michelle April 23, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Fun money is definitely important! I enjoy having clothes that I love, food with friends, vacations and so on.

    • Marissa April 23, 2012 at 4:38 pm

      Glad to hear it. I get so scared for anyone who goes to extremes to save a few bucks.

  • Daisy @ Add Vodka April 23, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    I always overspend in the fun category but my excuse is that I’m only young once 🙂 I love those shoes.. and the jacket..nail polish.. oh boy!

    • Marissa April 23, 2012 at 4:38 pm

      Everygirl needs a pair of blue suede shoes!

    • Marissa April 23, 2012 at 4:38 pm

      Every girl needs a pair of blue suede shoes!

  • Jordann @ My Alternate Life April 23, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    I definitely agree that you still need play money. I have a bit, plus I have some bigger fun goals that I’m saving towards, like a dog and a wedding. Without fun mixed in with the discipline, life just isn’t worth living.

    • Marissa April 23, 2012 at 4:44 pm

      EXACTLY! What kind of dog?

  • Jai Catalano April 23, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    I love a fun fund. Who’s more fun than me after watching 2 kids pull me from different angles? By the way I think my wife would really like you. You seem to have some imp things in common.

    • Marissa April 23, 2012 at 4:39 pm

      Hot pink nailpolish?

  • Modest Money April 23, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    For sure! You need to budget in some fun, even if you are trying to pay off debt. You don’t want to deprive yourself from everything you enjoy just to be a slave to money. I actually wrote a post about establishing spending priorities recently and it focused on the same kind of theme. If you limit yourself too much, you just cannot stay sane and keep it up long term. I do find that you need to find other areas to sacrifice in to maintain the fun budget when times are tough.

  • SavingfromScratch April 23, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    100% agree. I completely understand the need to save for future goals, but I’m definitely of the mind that you need to have fun in the process. There is a healthy balance!

    • Marissa April 23, 2012 at 4:40 pm

      The scary thing is that most people don’t. People put blinders on.

  • Earth and Money April 23, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    Couldn’t agree more Marissa! Its all about balance! A few pennies here for debt, a few pennies there for fun. Obviously, depending on how you manage the balance, you can pay the debt off faster or slower.

    • Marissa April 23, 2012 at 11:32 pm

      The balance is key!

  • From Shopping to Saving April 23, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    This post is sooooo true. You read my mind. It sucks when all you think about is paying off debt and paying off your mortgage, or paying off your car…saving for education or your child’s education. I mean let’s face it, we will be saving money forever unless we win the lottery (a HUGE pot, not just $100k!). We should all just enjoy our lives to the fullest. It doesn’t mean rack up debt but there always needs to be time for fun, and in moderation too 🙂 We don’t want to end up in a mental hospital…that would cost a fortune 😛

    • Marissa April 23, 2012 at 11:31 pm


  • Janine April 24, 2012 at 12:55 am

    I completely agree with you! I think so often people don’t have a “Fun” Fund and they end up completely drained. I know that I’m guilty of if. I think its best to show yourself some compassion and let yourself have some fun!

    Thanks for the great post, I love the perspective!

    • Marissa April 24, 2012 at 2:45 am

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • bogofdebt April 24, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    I agree with you that a fun fund is important. I find that if I don’t have a little me money, that I have the hardest time sticking to a budget. The first time I did a real “budget” there was no fun money and it lasted about 2 months before I couldn’t take it any more. I ended up getting further behind then if I would have budgeted in the fun money in the first place.

  • MyMoneyDesign April 24, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Your comment “I am very big believer that you need to make yourself a priority, because, let’s face it, no one else will.” – Amen to that!

    Every weekend my wife and I treat ourselves to one of those delicious frappes from one of the local coffee places around us. Some of the frugal-police would probably point at that and say “You’re wasting your money! You could be paying down your mortgage instead!” But you know what? Sometimes you’ve just got to cut loose. Money is meant to be a tool to help enrich your life, not control it. Sometimes people forget to not choke themselves to death with their finances.

    • Marissa April 24, 2012 at 7:31 pm

      Exactly. Its all about balancing the good and the bad.

  • Shannyn @frugalbeautiful.com April 25, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Loved this post and pretty much all the same things you love! I have that dress in navy and it is awesome! 🙂 Keep up the good work!

  • LifeInTransition April 25, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    I love the idea of the Fun Fund. It makes disciplined saving a little less painful when I can have a treat here and there.

  • Lianne @ The Wise Living April 28, 2012 at 4:03 am

    A fun fund is a must! A lot of things make me smile as well. Awesome idea for a post!

  • Belinda Ramirez May 19, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Thank you Marissa! I have been longing to hear this message from someone who applies frugal living. Sometimes my mind is like a frugal police and snatch out the fun funds.

    Having fun is as equally important as working for a living. Mental and physical rest (or just being away from stress) actually increases ones creativity and effectiveness. It just sad that sometimes we are too much caught with snowflaking debts.

    Cheers to all of us,

  • Vangile Makwakwa October 30, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    A fun account is a necessity. I put 10% of my income towards fun, although in the last few months it has spiraled out of control to a lot more. The truth is whenever I spend time and money on me, I want to get back to doing work and I remember why I want financial freedom – to keep doing the things that give me joy. This motivates me and keeps me going because trust me I have had debt fatigue.