The envelope system is a great budgeting tool! I used to use it just for groceries and then slacked off but my grocery spending got out of hand. I was using my debit card but it's just not the same as using the envelope system (at least for me). I would always know subconsciously that I really had more to spend than my allotted amount if I found a "deal". I found "deals" every time I went grocery shopping LOL! Now we're using it for a few more categories besides groceries.
Basically, what you do is create a spending envelope of cash for your budgeted categories. For example, if you are budgeting $100 a week for groceries. You would put $100 in cash into your grocery envelope and when that's gone - it's gone. That's all you can spend because that's all the cash you have. Also, if you only spend $60 then that leftover $40 could go into next week's grocery envelope or you could use it for something totally different. Like a new china cabinet ~ smile!
Only you can decide what categories to use envelopes for. Some people like to have a gas envelope. Some people don't want the hassle of going in to pay for fuel, they want to pay at the pump. Someone might spend a lot on cosmetics and want to control their spending in that area. An envelope with a budgeted amount for that category would be a good idea. Me - I hardly wear makeup so I spend close to nothing on it. That's not a category I need to control.
My snazzy Red envelope system from Dave Ramsey
On the other hand, I have added Books to my envelope system because I could go crazy (and often have) in a bookstore. Even though we utilize our library AND we buy books at the thriftstore, we still spend waaaay too much money on books.
I've also given myself a Thrifting budget. Because honestly, I have a very nice Goodwill about 10 minutes from my house and I could buy something there every time I go! Whether I really need it or not! Little dribs and drabs of money, here and there, they all add up in the end. So I've given myself a small budget to buy totally useless but pretty things. This does not include some major pieces of furniture I'm looking for which is in another budget category and might or might not be purchased at a thriftstore.
I've also added Dining Out.We try not to eat out alot, but we were getting into the habit of having lunch out every Saturday along with breakfast out during the week and an occasionally dinner out also. That's just too much money going out of our budget for that in light of the fact that we have a daughter starting college this year plus we just had to have a new furnace/ac unit installed PLUS all the other things we want to do - on one income.
Cyndi's Re-Creations ) sent me a link to a tutorial Free Envelope Template & Tutorial that Kelleigh did on her blog Kelleigh Ratzlaff Designs .
How cute are these envelopes! I'm definitely doing her tutorial and making my own once the ones I have wear out.
Or how about these cute fabric envelopes made by Heather Are You Using the Envelope System.
Give it a try. Start with one category and see how it goes. It may take a few months to tweak your budget and get the right amount for each category. So don't become discouraged if it doesn't work for you right away.
I think using the envelope system lets you really comprehend how much money you really really have versus some abstract or general idea of how much you have to spend. I'm hoping it'll keep our spending in line. I'll let you know in a few months how it's working for us!
Here are some links to checkout if you'd like more info:
Dave Ramsey Envelope System
Simple Mom - Envelope System - great post about how she manages it
Mvelopes - an electronic version of the envelope system for those that don't want to carry cash. I've never used but have heard alot of good things about it.