If you’re looking for a system to help you gain control of your finances, we have a method that works. Experts agree that the Dave Ramsey cash envelope system is one of the best. It’s a cheat-proof budgeting method that can get you out of debt and help you accomplish your savings goals.
When it comes to an effective cash envelope system, we have answers to the most common questions surrounding this unique budgeting method. We’ll cover everything from what to do when it comes to online shopping and digital envelopes systems to how to define your cash envelope system categories.
We also wanted to take the extra step to help our readers achieve their goals. So, we created the perfect printable cash envelope template to help you start your system, stay on track, and stay organized.
Let’s get into it.
The second step may be a little more difficult and time-consuming but it’s essential. For success with the Dave Ramsey envelope system, take an honest look at your financial situation. Account for all your debt and your household income.
Then, make a list of your minimum monthly payments and your other bills. Now, add them all up. Don’t be scared. This number will help your budget go on a diet.
After you’ve calculated all your debt and added up your household income, you can do the simple math of what’s left for your monthly household budget.
Household income – (bills + debt) = remaining budget for your DIY cash envelope wallet.
Luckily there are some categories Dave Ramsey suggests will work for most people.
You probably read over that list and realized it is pretty generic. Of course, your cash envelope system wallet needs to work for your life. Tailor your categories to your needs.
Some other envelope budget categories you may want to consider include the following:
Finally, add one more enveloped labelled “Cash Cache.” We’ll explain this one later.
How to do a cash budget can seem confusing and overwhelming when we primarily shop with credit cards and online. But it doesn’t have to be.
You have your overall budget and you have your categories. Now, you need to set each category’s monthly limit and stick to it.
We suggest looking back at your credit card and bank statements to see how much you spend on average each month per category. This can also help you revise your categories if you realize you’ve missed one.
Write out how much you want to spend for each category. Add them up. Make sure they’re lower than your overall budget.
Re-evaluate categories you think you can save more money from some. Dining out, clothes, entertainment, and gifts are usually the first categories people squeeze.
Our cash envelope template will help you keep track of how much of your budget you’re spending and how much you have left.
First, print them out. Then, glue them or tape them to your envelopes. Finally, decide on a safe place in your house to store them and get ready to save some money!
When payday arrives, make sure your funds are available and head to the bank.
As Dave Ramsey suggests, take out half or a quarter of the total of all of your envelope budgets added together. If you get paid bi-monthly or every two weeks, take out half of the total. If you’re paid weekly, take out a quarter.
Have your envelopes ready to go upon your return. Place the allotted amount into each category.
You will add the remainder of your budget as you receive your other paychecks for the month.
Yes, in moderation, and as long as you account for them in your cash envelope budget. They should be kept to a minimum as you whittle away your debt.
Before you leave the house, retrieve the envelopes you plan on using. They should be easy to find if you used our budget envelope templates. Remove as much money as you estimate your shopping list will cost you.
This is where people get tripped up. We suggest if you’re shopping at a big box store that you divide your purchases into your categories in your cart. This will help when it’s time to check out.
As each of your transactions wraps up, pay using the cash from the designated envelope. If you are carrying a cash organizer wallet or multiple cash envelopes, make sure you take the money out of the envelope you intend.
Then, return any change to the same envelope.
When you get home, write your purchase totals onto printable money envelopes. Subtract the purchase from your envelope’s total and replace it to its hiding spot.
Tip: Include your receipts in the envelopes to review later for accuracy if needed or to cut back on unnecessary purchases.
It’s almost impossible to not to shop online. So how do you reconcile this with your cash envelope system?
That’s where the “Cash Cache” comes in. If you make an online purchase, remove the amount you spent from the correct envelope and record the transaction on the cash envelope system template.
Put this cash into the “Cash Cache.” This money will remain there until budgeting next month.
I include Netflix and Hulu in my Entertainment category and take cash out for these payments.
Tip: Don’t forget to include sales tax.
Before next month’s first paycheck, it’s time to look over your progress and decide what your next step will be.
First, look over how much money is left in each envelope. Write these numbers down.
Add this money to your Cash Cache envelope.
Decide whether or not you want to decrease the budget for categories you spent less on and increase budgets for other categories. You can always put excess money into savings, too.
You can also try incremental budgeting. This is when you slowly increase your spending budget each month. This can improve your quality of life over time.
Decide on your next month’s budget, subtract your Cash Cache, then head to the bank to withdraw the remainder before dividing it into your envelopes and starting all over again.
While many people believe it’s more reckless to spend cash, the limited amount in your envelopes makes you analyze your purchases and puts a cap on spending.
Once the money in a category is spent, you cannot dive into another category to make up for it. You have to learn to make do.
The Advantages to the cash envelope system include
Here are a few of the most common questions asked by cash envelope system users.
A: Go home. Part of making this system work is only using money from home envelopes.
A: Many people choose to use an accordion coupon organizer to bring along to the store. This is often considered a “wallet envelope.”
To use one of these, label the tabs with your budget categories and transfer your estimated totals from the envelopes to the organizer before you leave. Then, place your change in the corresponding pocket and return it to the envelope when you get home.
A: Use our free printable cash envelope template to make your own cash envelopes system!
A: You can make your DIY own cash envelope wallet systemby trimming, labeling, and laminating scrapbook paper. If you make your own cash envelopes, you may feel more inclined to stay organized and invested in the system.
A: You may get some funny looks if you show up at the bank and ask for their bank envelopes for cash. Most people using a cash system wallet don’t like that these are too small for receipts and writing down expenditures.
We suggest you use #8, 9, or 10 envelopes. American dollars are 2.61 inches by 6.14 inches, so they will easily fit in any of the above sizes with room for change. You can also use these envelopes for a multitude of other projects and daily uses.
Tip: #10 envelopes are the easiest to find and work great for other purposes such as paycheck envelopes, tip envelopes, and work well for money envelope templates.
A: Try printing our money envelopes template PDF on different colors of paper. This will help you locate your cash envelope categories quicker.
A: Nerdwallet suggests using Goodbudget as an easy-to-use online envelope system. There are two versions: one is free but has limited electronic envelopes. The other is $5 per month but offers an unlimited digital envelope system.
While a virtual envelope system sounds handy, many people fall off track when it comes to logging their purchases. It also puts credit cards back in your hand which defeats the purpose of capping your household budget categories.
So, get out there and save, save, save. What do you think of our take on the Dave Ramsey envelope system? Find us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, or send us an email. Larry’s always happy to say hi!
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