Published On: Thu, Jan 30th, 2014

How the Envelope System is Going to Save You

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A lot of us are terrible at saving money. It’s hard – it takes persistence and the will power to not spend next month’s rent on “window shopping impulses”.

Instead of continuing to live in constant money trouble, never knowing where your funds will come from or where they’ll go, let’s talk about a tried-and-true budgeting system that will save your paycheck from yourself. Let’s work on getting you out of debt, getting you in control of your dollars, and on track to actually do something with your money instead of spending it on eating out, clothes you never wear, and junk no one cares about.

Let’s talk about the envelope system.

The envelope system

The envelope system. Source: The Digerati Life.

The Envelope System – What It Is

Simply put, the envelope system is a mostly-cash budget system that involves dividing your money into separately-labeled envelopes (groceries, rent, utilities, etc). Most importantly about the envelope system: you can’t spend more than what you have in each envelope. If you have $60 for groceries allotted for the week, you can’t dip into utilities or gas. When you’re done, you’re done.

Here’s how to set it up: every paycheck, get friendly with the bank teller, because you’re going to withdraw every penny (you can leave in money for rent and other online bills, but we’ll get to that later).

From there, you’re going to take it and divide it into the separate envelopes. Beforehand, you’ll need to write down where every dollar goes – if you have a random $20 in your pocket, I promise you you’re going to spend it. Every dollar needs a name. Where’s it going – rent? Gas? Savings?

Again – every bill you have needs an envelope. Here’s a sample list of the average worker’s bills:

  • Rent
  • Gas
  • Groceries
  • Utilities
  • Entertainment
  • Clothing
  • Misc
  • Gym

One of the best parts of the envelope system is that is leaves you a lot of room for savings. Whatever isn’t included in the envelopes needs to go in the last envelope: savings. Try and put as much money as you can in this. This is where you want to put as much extra as you can – over time, you can even try and make other envelopes smaller and cut part of “entertainment” or “miscellaneous” into smaller parts to have more in savings.

Personal and Business Use

The envelope system works for both personal and business use – let’s say you’re saving up to start a business.  Instead of saving for around the house, label your envelopes with business expenses, like web design, freelance writer fund, legal fees, etc.

Instead of trying to save up on your own for important things like marriage, a new business, even for next month’s rent, stop trying to make your broken system work. Try this proven system to effectively start saving money and actually make it work.

Sandy Smith
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Sandy Smith

Founder at Yes, I Am Cheap
Sandy Smith is the founder of the peer acclaimed personal finance blog, Yes, I Am Cheap where she shares winning strategies for reducing debt. You can find Sandy all around the internet taking about getting you out of debt and helping others establish small businesses.She is also the founder of Colorful Money Magazine.
Sandy Smith
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About the Author

- Sandy Smith is the founder of the peer acclaimed personal finance blog, Yes, I Am Cheap where she shares winning strategies for reducing debt. You can find Sandy all around the internet taking about getting you out of debt and helping others establish small businesses. She is also the founder of Colorful Money Magazine.

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Did you know?

African Americans are significantly more likely to have some type of debt (94%) compared with the general population (82%). Credit card debt, student loan debt, and personal loans are all significantly higher in the African American community.

Source: Prudential’s 2013 "African American Financial Experience" study