Starting the Envelope System

Discussion in 'Budget Board' started by angierae, Mar 31, 2011.

  1. angierae

    angierae DIS Veteran

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    Tomorrow I'm starting the Envelope system to try to get my "bleeding money" problem under control. I spend so much money without realizing it!

    I went through my budget and set $ amounts for everything, and then went through every payday this month and set when I'll be withdrawing money.

    The envelopes I'm going to be carrying are:

    Gasoline
    Car repairs (if nothing else, I need new tires before next winter, and this will be a good way to save for them)
    Med/Dental copays
    Groceries
    Eating out
    Clothes
    Entertainment
    Gifts
    Hobbies
    Charity/Fundraisers

    Other things are budgeted for but will be staying in my checking account. My goal was to not use my debit card at all - everything else that's being paid out of the checking account are either bills, my daughter's school lunches (I write a check) or savings/vacation goals.

    The budget is fairly tight for April and May because I had to dip into savings for car repairs (which is what fueled this whole change) but we'll see how it goes once that's repaid.

    Has anyone else had success with this? I know some people just keep it all in their checking and keep the envelopes per an excel chart or whatever, but everytime I try to do that I find I'm not keeping up with stuff and then I just start spending. It's very easy to see when there's no more cash in an envelope, for me. :)
     
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  3. MomiTo2SwtGuys

    MomiTo2SwtGuys DIS Veteran

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    I worked with a lady who did this even with everything. Even her monthly bills. She would deposit it when she was writing the check for the bills. She managed to have great success with this.
     
  4. Disneybabe84

    Disneybabe84 Mouseketeer

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    My mother does this, and she has been doing it for years. She loves it and it works extremely well for her. From what I've seen, it works! :thumbsup2
     
  5. Praying Colonel

    Praying Colonel DIS Veteran

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    It works, but be patient. You may find the first few times you do it that you're off on one or more. Just hang in there and keep tweaking, you'll get it.
     
  6. piperdown

    piperdown Mouseketeer

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    We are seriously considering this, primarily for groceries and eating out/entertainment. Our 2nd car will be paid off this month, and then no more car payments!!!

    All our major expenses are set up for auto payment, but the everyday debit card expenditures are bleeding us. I know given our income and bills, that we should be able to save.

    I think the envelope system will make us give more consideration for what we purchase.
     
  7. ZellyB

    ZellyB DIS Veteran

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    We started this about 8 months ago. We don't do as detailed a division of items as you do though. We have 4 broad categories and still have certain bills that are paid from our checking account.

    But, the principle is the same and it has been a really successful strategy for us. It took some getting used to, but now that we are well established in the process we love it!

    Oh, and I bought one of those mini expandable files and tabbed each section and keep all the money in that instead of using multiple envelopes. But, that's just me because I'm a sucker for office products and I spent the money before we started our budget. :)
     
  8. SandrA9810

    SandrA9810 DIS Veteran

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    It worked wonders to have two checking accounts. Paychecks were directly deposited into "2". This was the account that the bill pays would come out of the day after payday. "1" was the debit card. All bill pays were set up at the beginning of each month (checking online statements to make sure everything was paid on time). So when each pay day came along, the difference could be deposited into "1" to use for gas and food. The paychecks could also be split into multiple accounts, either set amount or percentage, so a set amount was put in place to go into the savings account for rent.

    If you are going to be using cash for bills, you can always pick up money orders at the grocery store, they're usually 50-75 cents each ($400-$500 limit). This way the money is put up front, and you're not waiting for a check to clear.

    My aunt is extremely great at balancing a checkbook and keeping tabs on it all, but it just goes right over my head. I would just call the bank to see how much was in the account, but I could never keep track of money potentially withdrawing.
    And with two accounts, I knew the bills would be paid and covered, and once "1" was used up, that was it.
     
  9. goNDmay9

    goNDmay9 Mouseketeer

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    my mother LOVES the envelope method. I dont think she uses that many envelopes though - but it WORKS!!!!!

    DH and I use the two checking account method. All the "bill" money goes to A - and then a set amt goes to B for Food and Fun and a set amt to savings

    If i splurge on filet mignon, crab legs and wine - there is not much left for movies / eating out. and vice versa. this is also where i try to save extra money for vacays etc.

    dont forget to have an envelope for emergencies too. this is where a lot of people get off track. all is going well - and then you need new brakes or a hot water heater! so you charge it or pull it from somewhere else.

    also - be patient on the amounts. it will take a few times before you get the numbers right so dont give up if it does not work out right away!


    happy enveloping!!!

    ps: the acordian files work well for this too as the pp said.
     
  10. angierae

    angierae DIS Veteran

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    All of our bills are paid out of my husband's checking account* - I write him a check every payday for my half, and the second check of the month we balance out grocery money or whatever else we bought that was a 'shared' expense. We've been doing it for 5 years so we've got that down pat.

    So my bills are getting paid, which is good - but I just tend to blow through the rest of my money and since we're saving heavily for Disney I want to make sure my regular every savings goals are being met, too.

    *(DH and I do not have combined finances. It's what works for us.)
     
  11. angierae

    angierae DIS Veteran

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    There's money going into an envelope for car repairs, and automatic transfers to savings happening for long and short-term savings. So that's taken care of, too. Thanks for the reminder, though!
     
  12. chris31997

    chris31997 Disney Kid at Heart

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    We do this and love it:yay:. We are debt free. When going to the store and only having $30 to spend on food that is all you got. Better make sure that is all you spend. It will help you with "bleeding" money. Make a list every time you go to the store and if it is not on the list it does not get bought;).

    Anyway, we have our master envelopes at home, and than carry a little bit of the cash with us in differant envelopes. That way the urge to spend does not overtake us;)
     
  13. Speed Weasel

    Speed Weasel Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into

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    The one challenge that I always have is with gas. HATE paying with cash because it means walking in to the store, explaining what you want to do (fill up not just put $20 in), leaving more money than is really required, then having to come back and stand in line again, get the change (sheesh, I'm tired just typing it).

    Now, to offer a solution (instead of just whining)...
    • If QuikTrips are in your area (they are ussually competitively priced), you can get a Cash Card that will authorize the pump for a cash transaction. I think that the card just has all of your personal info on it so that they can do a skip trace if you drive off. But it gets the pump turned on and eliminates several steps.
    • Purchase a gift card with the cash and that can be used like a credit card at the pump. Some stores even give you a few cents off per gallon.

    Good Luck!
     
  14. TNKBELL

    TNKBELL DIS Veteran

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    We use an interest bearing debit card for our gas purchases.;)
     
  15. Kitikat

    Kitikat Mouseketeer

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    I use envelopes for my purchase. I do groceries, walgreen's and gas for my truck.Plus my savings. I've cut our grocery budget from $250 biweekly to $100 and the other $150 goes into the savings. I also get $75 for gas. What isn't used i'm saving for our trip to Disney to pay for gas.
    Side note...we have 1 gas station that offers gas $.04 cheaper if paid in cash. It usually comes out better then the other places in town.
     
  16. hanutedmansionmomma

    hanutedmansionmomma DIS Veteran

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    So you used to spend $500/mo on groceries and now only $200?:worship: How in the world do you do that??? Please share!

    I cut back and went from $1000/mo to 600-700, and I thought I was doing pretty well...
     
  17. vsimeone

    vsimeone <font color=deeppink>I am the Queen Thread Killer

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    We do something similar but we've been doing it for 25 years!!!

    We do not combine finances (except for a joint savings account) and DH earns about twice as much as I do. I am responsible for X number of bills each month as well as groceries and then my own stuff (like dry cleaning, haircuts etc). We both deposit into the joint account

    Obviously, if something comes up and either one of us run short, we get help from the other and any "extra" money either of us earns goes into the joint account.

    The envelope system sounds like it works for a lot of people but we've survived pretty well dividing up responsibilities!

    Best wishes to you!
     
  18. Kitikat

    Kitikat Mouseketeer

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    I shop on wednesday when Farm Fresh double coupons up to $1.I only buy what's on sale and what I have cpns for. Also I won't buy cereal for over $1 a box.
    We stock pile things like chicken (only buy bone in breast..it's cheaper) and when save a lot has ground turkey for $1 a lb. We don't eat any other meat.

    We also buy from the Dollar tree. soy milk and Mrs. freshly snacks. sometimes frozen veggies and sliced cheeses.
    I also only spend $20 biweekly on walgreen's.
    We don't eat out unless it's a special occasion and have a cpn.lol
    Some weeks are difficult but then the next will be easier.
    I'm doing my walgreen's today as there is a 15% friends & family coupon.
     
  19. SandrA9810

    SandrA9810 DIS Veteran

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    I was burned so many times by paying at the pump.
    Ex: I would have $25 in the account and put $15 in the tank, paying at the pump. It would only authorize for $1, so the bank would only hold $1 in pending. Allowing $24 to be available.
    Then I'd go to the store and spend $10.50. The total amount would be placed pending. Well when the gas purchase finally went through, it would go through as overdraft because of that 50 cents, then charge a $30 fee.

    More than once I wouldn't realize it and it would snowball, even after adding money to the account.

    After that, it was strictly prepaying inside. Although at the Race Trac gas stations, if you prepay inside using debit, they will give you cash change. So if I planned on $40 to fill the tank, and it only took $37, I would save the change in my change bucket.

    A few extra steps and a couple extra minutes were well worth saving $30 on overdraft fees.
     
  20. TammyNC

    TammyNC <font color=red>WISH Biggest Loser/Red Team</font>

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    We use the envelope system and have been for about a year now. It helps keep mindless spending in check because when the envelope is empty it is empty. For us, it really makes us think about what we are buying and has cut out our impulse purchases.
     
  21. shellcruiser

    shellcruiser Mouseketeer

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    My DH has led several "personal finance" classes. The envelope / cash system is the base plan for either of two (highly published) programs he has used. We find that the envelope system is great at "stopping the bleed". I find that I think about purchases much more if I'm using actual cash versus plastic. We are debt free with what many would consider a strong income, but we have developed some very frugal habits. Since the OPs main question is does it work I have to say YES! As for the discussion on filling the gas tank (which takes more $ each week), I do agree with using a debit card there. The gas station is not where we spend more than we HAVE to. The "typical" account "bleed" is often from unplanned expenses and/or impulse shopping. Just make sure you post your gas expenditures on your checking account- keep receipts so you have a good idea of what you are spending every month.
     

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