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Monday, February 3, 2014

Money Question Monday: How Do You Budget for Surprises?

Hi, Charlotte!

I have a question regarding budgeting for gifts, particularly between spouses.

I'm thinking we need to decide how much we can afford to spend on gifts in general and include our birthdays, anniversary, and Christmas gifts to each other in that category. Then, any little "just because" gifts throughout the year would come out of our personal money we each have monthly. Do you take a similar approach, or do you do something completely different?

Thanks! I still really enjoy reading your blog!

Thanks for the question! There are several ways that you can budget for gifts, but the main thing is that you both agree. It sounds like you already have a pretty good idea about what you want to do. That sounds like a great way to do things. 

We have a gift category in our cash envelopes that we put $40 a month into.  That way we are prepared to buy small presents, mostly for people outside of our immediate family. (And I will admit that we often don't have to buy any presents and we plunder this envelope for something like eating out. And I am okay with that). If a present giving occasion is coming up that will cost more than $40, we decide how much we want to spend and budget for that.

So you could decide to go ahead and budget for surprise gifts, if that is your love language and you do a lot of that. Or just use personal money. Either way is great.

When we started using cash envelopes, I felt that there wasn't room in the budget for being generous. We remedied that by adding generosity into the budget.

The benefit of using cash when you share a checking account, is that your spouse will not see what store you bought his/her present from, and won't be able to guess what they are getting.

To answer a question that you did not ask: it's a great time to start saving for Christmas. You can set up a separate savings account and start putting a set amount in there each month. Decide what you want to spend at Christmas and divide by 11, since it is already February.

Thanks for asking the question!

If you have a question about money or budgeting, email me at charlottewoodwind at gmail dot com.

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