Whimsy Money

Mar 1, 2015 · 597 words · 3 minute read

I find buying small things about as hard as buying expensive things. Mostly because the benefit is less clear-cut, and so it’s harder to know if it’s a good use of your money. Buying something large and expensive is clearer - what kind of cycling do I need a bike for? how big a car do I need? How powerful and expensive a computer?

But for something small? Is the extra 10% worth it for a slightly nicer wine? Do I notice the benefit of slightly nicer seats in the cinema? Are these branded jeans actually better?1 The solution is Whimsy Money.

I’ve always been cautious with spending money, perhaps overly so, and end up over-thinking if something is good value for money, or if I think it’s ‘worth it’, even for small amounts.

This means it can take me as long to decide to buy something trivial, like a new computer mouse2, as it does a whole new computer.

For these situations the answer is Whimsy Money; also known as Pocket Money (but for adults). If you’re fortunate enough to be able do, you can set aside a small amount of money each month, say 30€, that you can spend without any guilt. You can use it for whatever you like, and not worry if it works out or not, or if it seems ‘worth it’.

The idea of this is that it’s separate to any normal budget you might have for things like entertainment or travel. If you want to buy that (somewhat) fancier wine in the restaurant, but can’t decide if it’s worth the extra money? Once a month, Whimsy Money is the answer. Is speedy boarding on your next flight a real benefit? Whimsy Money to find out.

It shouldn’t roll over and accumulate, or be advanced from a coming month,otherwise it just becomes like any other budget. If you start saving it for a larger ‘whimsey’, then you won’t use it spontaneously to get you out of an indecisive rut. Also once you’ve used it that month, all further uses are ruled out, and again you don’t have to um and ah about anything.

The amount can be adapted to whatever budget you’re working within. It should be low enough to be guilt-free, and usable without having to justify it. If your limit, financially or emotionally, for that is 10€ a month, then set it to 10€. Otherwise you’ll hesitate and not use it, defeating the whole purpose of its existence.

I’ve been trying to do this for years, and often forgetting, ever since a friend at university shared the idea with me. When I remember it, it’s a great tool to save the time spent over-thinking something, plus I learn what I find valuable from actual experience rather than what I think it would be like, which can often be quiet different.


  1. Answers: Yes; The cost affects your perception of the wine , so paying more will probably make it taste better, and perhaps impress your date. No; In a cinema seat I want more legroom, so an aisle seat is much better for me than a ‘premium’ seat in the middle of a row. No; I have yet to buy a pair of branded jeans that last reliably longer than an own brand pair. ↩︎

  2. Wired, or wireless? If wireless do I want built in batteries chargeable via USB, or just replaceable AA? Also what kind of wireless, less reliable, but more compatible Bluetooth, or some proprietary dongle that’s more reliable but then requires a spare USB port on a laptop…argh! ↩︎