(Closed) How much do you budget for discretionary spending per month?

posted 5 years ago in Finances
Post # 2
12261 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2011

When we were house hunting, I think we budgeted to have no less than 1k buffer after retirement (maxed out 401k and Roth), savings (2k/month for emergency and investment accounts), and billed (estimated 1-2k/month).   I think we actually ended up with about 1500 for spending, but don’t spend nearly that much each month, maybe 400 or 500 tops.  Whatever doesn’t get used just sticks around for a vacation or some other big expense later.  We natural savers and don’t spend anywhere near our discretionary savings so we don’t even really pay attenetion now as long as the checking account and discresionary saving account looks good.

Post # 3
1641 posts
Bumble bee

Living in Boston, we individually get about $400 a month to spend. Most of it does go into eating out or social activities with friends. Most of our cash goes into savings (wedding/house renovation/emergency fund).

Post # 4
523 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2013 - Outdoor

We do $200 each per month in personal spending money- shopping, activities, etc. We also have a separate budget line for restaurants/eating out, which also starts at $200. Sometimes we go over or under, but our budget is pretty flexible.

Post # 5
2066 posts
Buzzing bee

Your budget sounds a bit too broad for me.  I really started making progress when I got more specific setting a budget for groceries, restaurants, toiletries, salon/make up, household products, miscellaneous entertainment, alcohol, etc.

my other recommendation is figure out what you are spending now and aim for cutting it or an amount similar to that figure if you can afford what you are doing now. It is hard to change all habits over night just bc you wrote out a budget.

Post # 7
912 posts
Busy bee

eating out together is around $250 a month

lunch money (for when we are at work) is always $120- him $80 and me $40 

entertainment/dates (other than eating out) is typically $50-100, never a set amount. Movies, sports games, museums are all covered here. 

shopping is another $50-100, no set amount though. Some months I go crazy and other months we spend very little.

we save the rest- about $1300.

Post # 8
9111 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

View original reply
mrst1:  We keep it to 30% or less of budget, but there are some months where we barely touch it and then other months where we’ll drop $3k on a vacation or home repair. Rather than tell ourselves “we can only spend $500 on fun stuff this month” we do the reverse – we MUST (a) pay all of our bills in full and on time every month and (b) transfer 20% of our net pay into savings (auto-transfers help with this). Beyond that we don’t worry too hard, but we’re also naturally frugal people. For example I spent a couple hundred dollars on some new clothes that really needed to be replaced this month (bras! omg I forgot how nice new bras are!) but I know I very rarely buy clothes so I don’t worry about it. 

If you’re new to budgeting I would recommend focusing on set bills that you can reduce once and reap the benefits for a long time. It’s hard to keep up stamina when you’re cutting stuff you enjoy, but who enjoys paying a high cable or cell phone bill? Negotiate them down and then ride that momentum into the next area you want to try and reduce such as groceries or clothes, etc. 

Post # 9
4572 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: November 2016

Each?? I live in a very high COL area and we are paying back grad school loans + saving for a house, so our discretionary budget is low ($100 each/month), but I budget everything else separately. My hair appointments are expensive, so there’s a monthly number saved for that, etc. We rarely go out to eat, so it ends up being money for Fiance to get coffee and work clothes and for me to go to brunch/HH with my friends. His work provides meals for him and I meal prep all of the food I eat, so I don’t need extra money for lunch.

Post # 10
467 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

We save the majority of our income (100% of mine and like 30-40% of his) so my numbers are going to look super small compared to lots of others on this post! On top of the regular stuff (house down payment, retirement, emergency fund, etc) we also save for future vacations, Christmas, birthdays, etc. A million little categories!

We always have a “buffer” of about $500 that is money not allocated toward anything specific. We use it when we go over budget in some category. At the end of the month, if we were super good about sticking to the budget and therefore still have a lot left in that category, we buy something for the house or if he needs new shoes and I need new makeup, we can get it.

We budget $200 a month for eating out/dates together.

We budget $50 a month for eating out individually with friends – so like once a month or so, each of us usually meets up with friends for drinks or dinner or whatever. We each get about $25 but sometimes we up this from the buffer fund if the guys want to go golfing or something pricier.

We each have $10 a week for other individual spending – I spend mine almost exclusively on lattes lol.

Post # 11
3170 posts
Sugar bee

We don’t hold ourselves to a strict budget, but we try to be cognizant of our spending and adjust as necessary. If we spend more than usual one month, we’ll cut back the next until it evens out. I feel like things change enough month to month that it’s difficult for me to stick to a strict monthly budget – for example, I spend a lot more on eating out and social activities in the summer months than in the winter months (minus the holidays) since people tend to stay in and hibernate more in the winter. The flexible approach works for us, but I can definitely see the advantages of a set monthly budget as well.

Post # 12
4835 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: April 2013

View original reply
mrst1:  Since I keep detailed records I can tell you that we spent $2400/month last year on discretionary spending (restaurant meals, gifts, home furnishings, entertainment, travel, shopping, gym, sporting goods, etc).  For us this accounts for 45% of our monthly spending.  I don’t normally think of things as “discretionary” vs non (I’m more of a fix vs variable person), but I think that’s a reasonable representation.

We don’t actually budget specifically for these different line items, instead we know how much we want to save and we auto transfer it to savings on pay-day.  This keeps us in line with our savings goals without having to worry too much about tracking in the moment.  But I recognize that this works for us at this stage of life because we have signifigant wiggle room in the budget.

Post # 13
781 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

I think this answer is strictly based on incomeand current situations, if you had asked me this question five years ago I wouldve said $100/month, but that was when my husband was the only one working, I was attending school and his student loans were $1,000 a month.

Now, thankfully, I am done with school and his loans are smaller so we have quite a bit of discretionary income, around $4000. My entire income goes into savings, a little over half, we increased his student loans by around $600, and the rest we use for whatever we want.. going out to eat, haircuts, new clothes, etc. We are around 4% away from meeting his limit for retirement savings, so we will probably increase that by the end of the year and create a roth for me. He has a govt. pension, so while retirement is a big deal, we are lucky that we dont feel compelled to save everything we make. Right now we are enjoying living, since we plan to have kids soon. I should also mention that we have a 10mo emergency fund, I dont advocate spending nearly as much as we do without one, but otherwise your estimates seem about similar to mine. 

Post # 15
357 posts
Helper bee

We live in California’s Central Coast, and almost one year ago we started a more aggressive savings plan to speed up the process to save for a house, so we gave eachother $60 a month each maximum for any expenses that we did not *need* so that was usually for eating out at a restaurant once a week. Last month we exceeded our savings goal so we’re a little more lenient but still not splurging. Now we give ourselves the option to to spend more but neither of us have done so yet, I think we like the feeling of power from saving and seeing those numbers go up quicker lol. We just eat out twice a week now instead of once so we’re at $270 for the both of us a month including gas because we go a little further from town to eat out. 


This allowance does not include personal items such as shampoos or necessary work clothes/items. necessary for us would be SO’s shoes that need to keep looking professional so he gets a replacement pair every 1-2 months. Likewise, I now only buy replacement clothing, not just to add to my collection or because it looks cute even though I would miss doing that haha but I got used to it. It also doesn’t include our yearly vacation and roadtrip, which we separetely save up for and go on  each year. The more expensive one (which is still very cheap compared to other people’s vacations I guess lol) on our anniversary in March for usually 2-5 days, and the second later in the year a more affordable roadtrip of within a 4hr driving distance for 1-2 days (usually 1). 

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