Please note this post may include affiliate links. For more information, read my disclosure policy here.
Several years ago I took a class that changed the trajectory of my life. A bit dramatic? Maybe. But I honestly cannot think of a single class that has influenced more decisions in my life to date.
The name of the class was Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey, and I took it with my then boyfriend (now husband). Both of us were interested in getting our finances in order and I for one, desperately needed a budget. I know, who says that? But I had lived too long with the philosophy that budgets were not for me because I didn’t make enough money. (Don’t ask me where I got that idea; I do know it was influenced by my many attempts to force my small salary into traditional budget templates. If you’ve ever tried to do that, you know how depressing that can be.)
Anyway, we took the class and graduated with a new perspective on finances. And to this day, I am so very grateful that we have a terminology to refer to when we talk about money. Neither one of us has to preach to the other about “what Dave said”; we just work the plan. Now, to be honest, in our situation of paying back a large student loan debt, we have tweaked the plan a bit. And since I’m a stay-at-home mom, we have had to make some significant budget changes to make everything work.
But we’re doing the thing, and that is amazing to me. If you had told me ten years ago that I would be a budget girl, I would never have believed you. Budgets and cash envelopes were too complicated and stressful. Little did I know that a budget works for you and takes the stress away!
But enough of this rambling. You came here for a cash envelope tutorial, didn’t you? Part of Dave Ramsey’s system is to pay cash for everything. This idea isn’t new—my parents have been doing this for years—but putting it into practice was new to me. Initially, we dutifully labeled business sized envelopes and put our monthly allocations into them. This practice lost its luster as I tired of carrying around 15 envelopes in my purse (not to mention how sad they began to look!)
I eventually bought a plastic mini folder for coupons that I transformed into my cash envelope system, and that served me well. That is, until I saw my mom’s system last month. She uses a small zipper pouch and cut up an old Christmas card for her dividers. Seriously? I couldn’t believe how simple her system was and was excited to try it out for myself.
Make Your Own Cash Envelope System
You will need:
A zippered pouch (This cute pencil case has an additional pocket for coins.)
Card stock (I used one gorgeous page from Flow magazine’s book for paper lovers)
*Optional: Laminator + one laminating pouch
Okay, this system is as easy as it gets. Choose your paper and cut slightly larger than your cash. Label the top of each slip of paper with the allocation name (i.e. “groceries”, “gas”, etc.)
At this point, you can place your dividers and money into the zippered pouch. Or you can laminate the dividers so they will last longer. I LOVE my laminator, and I only had to use one laminating pouch for the dividers. (Be sure to keep an eye on Amazon for this laminator as it tends to go on sale regularly. We only paid $17 for ours, and it came with a set of laminating sheets!)
This simple project allows you to organize your cash so you don’t have to carry around ten or more different envelopes or a huge coupon wallet. Yay! :)
I honestly can’t believe it took me this long to realize there was a better way to do the cash envelope system. Leave it to my creative mom to come up with this idea! (Thanks, mom!)
Do you use the cash envelope system?
P.S. Right now I’m giving away a FREE mini eBook full of gift ideas that won’t break your budget to all of my newsletter subscribers. I think you’d really like it! Sign up for it here. You’ll gain instant access to the subscriber-only page where you can download it when you sign up.
Join the Pay It Forward Challenge!
Join our 5 day letter-writing challenge and receive a PDF calendar, printable stationery, and email prompts.