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s/o no spend: Cash Envelope System

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I have a coupon binder. I keep my envelopes in a plastic zipper pencil pouch in the front of my binder. I "sub" catergorize mine by store, and put them in order of which store I'll go to 1st, 2nd, etc.


Categories are going to be different for every family. I prefer to broadly catergorize mine rather than a million envelopes. You'll probably have to play with it a time and two and see what's going to work for you and your family.


Really does help you keep better track of your spending!

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Ours is more of an electronic envelope system. We keep an Excel spreadsheet of all of our fixed and variable costs. When the bills come in for these items we plug in the amount in the spreadsheet and every payday electronically pay (through our bank) all of the bill amounts entered in the spreadsheet. We are able to scroll from month to month to see trends (what bills have gone up/down and plan accordingly). For example, my husband noticed that the electric bill was substantially higher one month as compared to the same month the previous year. He called the electric company and they credited him the difference saying it was a "mistake.":glare:


Likewise if our cell phone bills go up he will adjust our calling plan if we consistently go over, etc. It is really a good system. I had to edit to add that all household bills are in one account. My husband and I have separate debit/credit cards for our individual gas and allowance. There is another debit card just for grocery that I carry. We write in sharpie "GROCERY" on the card so it isn't mixed up with the gas/allowance card. The banker often asks "do you want us to combine some of these accounts for you?" When I explain to them why we have it they go "OH...that's smart." No mixing of $$.


Fixed Costs:


Cell Phone

Internet, cable, home phone bundle





Our so called variable costs are even fixed. We budget $100 per pay period for gas for each spouse. We budget $600 month for food and we both get a fixed allowance each pay period. Homeschool is budgeted $"x" per month as well.


This system forces me to watch where I drive, to combine trips, to coupon and plan meals around food sales, etc. My homeschool purchases are carefully thought out as well based on my budget. We have an "envelope" for savings, vacations, and a small buffer for "go overs" (i.e. unexpected guests we have to feed, out of town trips, etc.)


The credit card is reserved for true emergencies or car repairs. Our system has allowed us not to live feast to famine. I often say no to some things I really want to do to make sure I stay in my categories. Although there is $$ somewhere to do these things (like savings or the buffer) I can't use it b/c my budget is my budget.


There are no spur of the moment purchases or fast food drive through purchases (less $1 coffee or if I have coupons). All of these types of purchases come out of my allowance and I don't like blowing it on food when I can eat at home.


Clothing is the only thing we don't budget for. I usually just tell my husband when someone needs a new something and he makes adjustments on the spreadsheet to account for it. I do have one Kohl's card that I manage and pay with my allowance so that I can take advantage of clearance sales or on the spot deals I can't pass up. If the deals are for the kids I tell him and he reimburses my allowances from a upcoming check or from savings.


This is a lot but our system has really worked over the years and allows us freedom to do a lot of things. People think we have a lot of $$ but it really is in the managing. My friends laugh when I can tell them exactly where every dime in my house goes - literally! :lol:

Edited by jamajo
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we separated out expenses that went with the house (mortgage, insurance, phone, electricity, insurance, etc) and subtracted those amounts from what we had to work with.


envelopes in my purse were "gas", "food", "paper products", "medicines and hygiene", "pets". i actually had to split the food money into daily amounts and shop every day for the first few weeks until i developed a sense of what we could really buy with that little money. it really only lasted about three weeks, and then i could be more disciplined and do a weekly shop. our "entertainment" money envelope got filled with whatever was left over from the envelopes from the week before. most weeks, it was empty.




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I pay my bills either by check or automatic withdrawal from my checking account. For other day-to-day expenses, we use the envelope system. I have something that looks kind of like a coupon organizer but a bit fancier. It has dividers that are labeled with each category. I have groceries - divided by week, gas, charity, miscellaneous, pets, clothing, medical, entertainment. I keep it at home and draw out what I need when I go shopping or what have you, and just carry enough to cover what I need to buy.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just wanted to update and say I got one of the small accordion binders.

I have:

Rent, Electric, Gas, Food, Pets, Phone, Storage, Cable, Household, Eating Out, Kids, Us.



Those are in order of Priority. DH gets paid and we take out everything we need and then put it in the envelopes for 2wks (until he gets paid again) and then whats left is considered Savings. :)


ETA: i realize many wont agree with the pets being above the kids. Pets includes cat litter, food where Kids includes clothes, outings, etc.

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