While campaigns have wide discretion in deciding how to spend their funds, the Federal Election Campaign Act places certain restrictions on the use of campaign funds.
An expenditure is a purchase, payment, distribution, loan, advance, deposit or gift of money or anything of value to influence a federal election. "Disbursement" is a broader term that covers both expenditures and other kinds of payments (those not made to influence a federal election). All disbursements are reportable by the campaign.
Disbursements must be made by check or similar draft drawn on an account maintained at the committee’s designated depository.
However, the committee may maintain a petty cash fund for small disbursements. A written record of petty cash disbursements must be kept if a petty cash fund is maintained. Payments from petty cash to one person for any one purchase or transaction may not exceed $100.
Campaign funds may be used for certain purposes that are not related to the candidate's campaign for federal office. Using campaign funds for personal use is prohibited.