Our Family Spending Rules

Our Family Spending Rules:

On a recent 4-hour drive up the California coast, Lisa and I conducted a deep dive of our budget. We’ve spent this summer traveling, and between feeling bogged down by our SUV full of belongings and facing the sticker shock of gas and food prices here, we felt compelled to re-examine our spending.

Throughout the last 12 years as a couple, we’ve gone through many evolutions with budgeting. We’ve tested all the apps. We’ve gone from assigning every dollar each month to now just running an occasional review on Mint. We’ve alternately tightened and expanded our budget to experiment with what brings us value and joy.

How you budget is very personal, and there’s no right or wrong – what’s important is to decide on the rules for your spending that aligns your money to your priorities, and then come up with a system to keep yourself accountable.

Here are 5 spending rules that Lisa and I have for our family:


  • Never let your spending take away the freedom to choose how you work and live. This is our #1 rule. We love our life, and our financial goal is to just be able to keep living as we are.
  • Buy high quality and keep it as long as possible. We try to live by the Marie Kondo motto of keeping only what you love. And that means not buying junk.
  • Don’t question spending on health, personal growth, or a friend’s charity fundraiser. Because you’ll never regret it.
  • Dine out for pleasure, not out of convenience. We’re not always consistent, but we’ve realized it’s better for our joy and our waistline.
  • Set aside funds for no-guilt spending on self-indulgences. If being rich means spending money without feeling constrained, then we figured – let’s live richly and give ourselves permission to spend freely on stuff that brings us joy.


While it takes effort, I’m a strong believer that being intentional about your purchases gives you the best ROI on your wealth. For us, this summer has resulted in a renewed commitment to a simpler life. What are your spending rules?