You know by now that I’m a big proponent of building one thing into your budget: FUN. I wouldn’t confuse this category with frivolity, although I’d like to think that some frivolity is part of every happy life. (“Everything in moderation, including moderation” anyone?) What I’m really suggesting here is that we live to maximize our understanding of what makes a fulfilling life.
Maybe you want to take flying lessons or become a black belt in jujitsu or simply spend more time with your family. No judgments on the goals, but let’s lay ’em out there. You want to go on a first-class, around-the-world trip once in your life? Write it down. Feed the poor? Write it down. You want to own a Chanel bag for every day of the week? Meh, that’s my first value judgment. Don’t write that down. Preserve the park where you played as a child? Write it down.
I tackled my own #FunGoals list when I moved to New York City. My first stab looked like this:
- Year 1: Never order more than I can pay for myself on a date. Go out for drinks with girlfriends once/week.
- Year 3: Have a $500 clothing budget/month.
- Year 5: Get a two-bedroom apartment I can afford with new furniture.
- Year 7: Start a charity organization with enough money to hire one staff member and cover legal fees for setting it up.
- Year 10: Take two vacations/year—in first class (either with miles or fully paid for).
Here’s a little explanation of my goals:
- Year 1: Maybe it’s my cash-based upbringing, but being able to afford my own meal has always been important to me. In New York City, it’s totally normal to take yourself out to dinner and a movie, even if you don’t have a date. Why make your fun dependent on someone else? Anyway, that’s my own independence thing. You may feel differently about it, and that’s totally cool.
- Year 3: And while it’s true I get a small clothing budget from my job, I want to be able to buy my own duds for my off-hours.
- Year 5: Ever since that two-bedroom apartment in Atlanta, I remained focused on getting one I could actually afford.
- Year 7: One aspect of a fulfilling life is public service. We don’t tend to think of this as fun, per se, but when you get right down to it, service to others is one of the most fulfilling things a person can do. If you think you might be so inclined, add charitable work to your list. But remember, this is my list. It’s not for everyone.
- Year 10: Well, this is self-explanatory.
So, What are your Fun goals? Fun doesn’t have to be leisure, and maybe it doesn’t have to be fun in an obvious way. Maybe it’s simply good for you or for your career.
Here are some things women have told me they like to do and/or spend their money on:
- Work on a political campaign
- Foster stray dogs or cats
- Take a class or workshop
- Attend an industry networking event
- Start a blog
- Join a support group
Once you’ve figured out what your goals are, think about how much money you’ll need to make them happen. Know exactly what it’s gonna take you to get there, considering money but also your time. Repeat after me: Time. Is. Money. My mission is that you don’t lose any of either and take control of both.