An Adult with an Allowance

By Christi Posner

I am guilty of this. My mom and sister are guilty of this. My co-workers are guilty of this. Someone compliments you on your new pair of shoes, new jacket, new pants, and you feel the uncontrollable need to tell them the price that you bought it for! So many times I’ve smacked my head afterwards thinking, “WHY did I have to tell them the price! Why couldn’t I let them think I spent a fortune on it?”

You know what I’m talking about – “That’s a really nice purse.” “Thanks, I got it for twenty bucks at Winners!” Right after the words pour out of my mouth, my internal dialogue sounds something like this: “Really Christi? Really? Why did you tell them the price? Seriously, what is wrong with you! Why can’t you let them think you paid full price at a little boutique!”

Come on, am I alone here? I don’t think I am.

What are we trying to accomplish by stating the price of the item we bought? Are we fishing for a compliment on the steal of a deal we found? Are we trying to save the other person some money? Nope, that wasn’t it for me. I realized that I do it to justify my purchase. I feel much better about purchasing an item after I tell someone that I didn’t really spend that much money on it.

You see, I realized that I felt guilty about spending money on items that weren’t essentials. I felt that if I paid full price for something nice for myself, that I was doing something wrong. I was trying to downplay my purchase. Once I realized that this was the reason behind my behaviour, I was able to address the real problem. Why did I feel guilty about buying something for myself??

To help you understand, let me give you some background on money and me. I moved out on my own when I was 20. I spent 6 years in university working 2 or 3 part time jobs. Since the day I truly became an adult, money was tight. At that time, my thought process was that when I got my pay cheque, I paid the bills first and the rest of the money was to go towards groceries, gas, or trying to pay down my student debt. That’s it. I should never spend that money on me.

Now, for the first time in my life, I am working one job, full-time. And I have a husband who also works one job, full-time. Believe it or not, it was so hard to financially adapt  to my new situation. I was feeling strapped for cash, when I finally had enough to go around!

My husband and I devised an ingenious plan. We created a balanced budget that included fixed expenses, savings, and money that we were allowed to spend – on whatever. Let me repeat. I had money I was allowed to spend on me!

Looking back, this was the greatest decision we ever made in regards to our finances. We looked at our budget, and found a set amount that we could give ourselves every 2 weeks. This money was meant to be spent. What a freeing idea!

Thinking I was some sort of financial wizard, I was shocked when a girlfriend asked me about the same concept. She wanted to set up a spending allowance for her and her husband and wanted to know what amount was too big or too small.

The amount will ultimately depend on what this allowance is meant to cover. For us, it is meant to be a little guilt-free cash for something extra.  We think of it as a little reward for doing a good job saving and budgeting! Each and every person will have a different amount, and couples may need to compromise (gasp!) to find the right amount. Try and find a balance that works for you and your life.

So now, my cash is my cash. If I want to spend it on a full-price item, I don’t have to feel guilty about it! If I want to save it for next month and really splurge, that’s ok too. My name is Christi, and I am an adult who’s happy to spend her allowance.


Originally posted on

Christi Posner is a Credit Counsellor for the Credit Counselling Society, a non-profit, charitable organization. Born and raised in Winnipeg, Christi is a newlywed, a new homeowner, and with the exception of car loans and a mortgage, she is newly debt-free. Her goal is not merely to survive, but to financially thrive; and to do so with some passion, empathy, humour, and a smile.