Let’s shout this as loud as we can so everyone can hear: It’s totally OK to spend money on yourself. This can get kind of lost, considering how so much financial advice can feel like there’s an emphasis on spending less, with “less” roughly translating to mean “essentials only.”  

But the reality is that reserving a few dollars to spend on a little happiness is possible.

Here are some ways you can create a “treat yourself” budget that will keep you happy and your finances in check

Build a budget that includes fun 

If you’re someone who tracks their spending you probably know what category each dollar falls into, like rent, groceries, and student loans. But do you have a “fun money” category?

“Fun” should be strictly for the things you do for fun like going to the movies, seeing a concert, going out to dinner or a buying silly little knickknack that can’t be categorized in any other way. It’s pretty much an “anything goes” category so long as you stay within your dollar limit.

Here’s how much you should have in your fun budget

Like other budget items, it’s not surprising that there are recommendations for just how big your fun budget should be. If you’re looking for a number, financial planner, accountant and author Tom Corley told CNBC he recommends capping the amount of money you put towards “fun” at 10 percent of your monthly net pay. Don’t have 10 percent to spare? Don’t sweat it. Shoot for 5 percent (or another number that works) and use it for whatever you want: Restaurants, the sweater you’re dying for, a pedicure, whatever.

Creating a fun budget: beware temptation

Knowing just how much money you have allocated for fun every month can be an empowering thing. By building a fun category in your budget, you know you have a little wiggle room to buy the things you want.

But, you also want to keep an eye on and stick to your limits. If there’s a big-ticket item you know you want to buy, like a big screen TV, a trip to Coachella, or an expensive pair of boots, you could always save up and roll over your fun budget month over month until you can afford it. This way you’re still having a good time while maintaining your financial responsibilities.

If you don’t have a lot you can still build in a little something

Look, we get it, not everyone has 10 percent or 5 percent to put away for fun. But fun doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be $10 a month that you use to splurge on a movie, getting yourself a fancy coffee, or downloading a few new songs. And, if things are really tight, you could always consider building in a fun budget with your time, too. This means allocating a specific amount of time to fun activities like taking a walk with friends, packing a picnic lunch, or just reading a good book by yourself.

Having both time and a bit of fun money as a budget item can be a powerful mental trick to make you feel like a million bucks even when you don’t have it and can help you get rid of any guilt for buying the things you really like. Because, as we said, it’s OK to treat yourself any way you see fit.

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How to Create a ‘Treat Yourself’ Budget (While Staying Responsible)

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Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for individualized professional advice. Articles on this site were commissioned and approved by Clarity Money® but may not reflect the institutional opinions of Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., Goldman Sachs Bank USA or any of their affiliates, subsidiaries or divisions.

Let’s shout this as loud as we can so everyone can hear: It’s totally OK to spend money on yourself. This can get kind of lost, considering how so much financial advice can feel like there’s an emphasis on spending less, with “less” roughly translating to mean “essentials only.”  

But the reality is that reserving a few dollars to spend on a little happiness is possible.

Here are some ways you can create a “treat yourself” budget that will keep you happy and your finances in check

Build a budget that includes fun 

If you’re someone who tracks their spending you probably know what category each dollar falls into, like rent, groceries, and student loans. But do you have a “fun money” category?

“Fun” should be strictly for the things you do for fun like going to the movies, seeing a concert, going out to dinner or a buying silly little knickknack that can’t be categorized in any other way. It’s pretty much an “anything goes” category so long as you stay within your dollar limit.

Here’s how much you should have in your fun budget

Like other budget items, it’s not surprising that there are recommendations for just how big your fun budget should be. If you’re looking for a number, financial planner, accountant and author Tom Corley told CNBC he recommends capping the amount of money you put towards “fun” at 10 percent of your monthly net pay. Don’t have 10 percent to spare? Don’t sweat it. Shoot for 5 percent (or another number that works) and use it for whatever you want: Restaurants, the sweater you’re dying for, a pedicure, whatever.

Creating a fun budget: beware temptation

Knowing just how much money you have allocated for fun every month can be an empowering thing. By building a fun category in your budget, you know you have a little wiggle room to buy the things you want.

But, you also want to keep an eye on and stick to your limits. If there’s a big-ticket item you know you want to buy, like a big screen TV, a trip to Coachella, or an expensive pair of boots, you could always save up and roll over your fun budget month over month until you can afford it. This way you’re still having a good time while maintaining your financial responsibilities.

If you don’t have a lot you can still build in a little something

Look, we get it, not everyone has 10 percent or 5 percent to put away for fun. But fun doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be $10 a month that you use to splurge on a movie, getting yourself a fancy coffee, or downloading a few new songs. And, if things are really tight, you could always consider building in a fun budget with your time, too. This means allocating a specific amount of time to fun activities like taking a walk with friends, packing a picnic lunch, or just reading a good book by yourself.

Having both time and a bit of fun money as a budget item can be a powerful mental trick to make you feel like a million bucks even when you don’t have it and can help you get rid of any guilt for buying the things you really like. Because, as we said, it’s OK to treat yourself any way you see fit.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for individualized professional advice. Articles on this site were commissioned and approved by Clarity Money® but may not reflect the institutional opinions of Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., Goldman Sachs Bank USA or any of their affiliates, subsidiaries or divisions.