Guest post by Kristen from Getting More God
After following MoneySavingMom.com for a while and reading about the Cash Envelope System, my husband and I decided to take the plunge about a year ago. Our bank account was slowly dwindling, even though we had a budget that we tracked each dollar in. We figured being “cash only” was the best way to keep track of where these dollars were disappearing to.
I thought it would be painful, but it has actually been beautiful. We will never, ever go back!
Many of my friends and family think we are crazy for using envelopes and offer up the same concerns I had before taking the envelope plunge. I figured it would be quick and easy to get them all in one place and provide the answers I’ve found since beginning our “Life with Envelopes.”
Argument #1: “I don’t want to have all those restrictions! I want to enjoy my life!”
You determine the restrictions. You look at your income versus your bills and decide exactly how much money goes to each category.
If you love to shop and want to spend $100 per month on clothes, so be it! That just means a little less is going to go to the other envelopes. It all depends on your decisions for where your money goes based on what your family needs and can afford.
Envelopes actually free you. You know things are covered and you no longer have such regret over purchases you weren’t prepared for!
Argument #2 – “I don’t know how much money to put into each envelope or what envelopes I even need!”
There are many great resources available with guides on just how to do this.
Argument #3 – “I do not want to go into the gas station every single week to pay cash for my gas. Headache!”
There are still things that we use our card for, and gas is definitely one of those. I would never ask you (or require myself!) to go inside and pay for gas every time. You’re right, it’s a headache!
Argument #4 – “I don’t want to have to tell my friends I can’t hang out because I just spent my last dollar in my envelope. I’m not an 8-year-old with an allowance!”
No, you’re not. But you could be a 35-year-old living at home with your parents if you don’t learn to manage your money well! So, my advice is to look at your month when it starts. Knowing how much money you have for eating out, entertainment, etc. and then decide which weekends you will use it.
If your friends ask to hang out on a certain weekend where you know you’ll be strapped for cash, recommend another weekend or ask if you can hang out at a certain venue you know you can afford. You initiate the invites and then things are much more within your control. And if you find that you are constantly restricted by your envelope, you may need to adjust amounts.
Argument #5 – “That seems annoying to have to actually go into the bank and get cash out every month. I don’t have time for that.”
I say this when it comes to exercise, too… You have the same 24 hours in your day that everyone else has. You make time for the things that matter to you.
Look at what you spend your time doing. You can’t deny that those are the things that matter to you, or else you wouldn’t occupy yourself with them. So decide to make your financial health matter to you and get to the bank once a month! It’ll take 10 minutes! Financial responsibility requires some dedication and maturity.
Argument #6 – “I don’t want to use cash because I use and pay off my credit card each month. I get points/rewards for my purchases and I love that!”
If you are able to keep your finances 100% in check and not have money slipping through your fingers with that system, then more power to you! I’m not saying everyone must do the envelope system, or else you don’t care about stewarding your money well.
I’m simply asking that everyone consider it. Handing someone cold, hard cash is so much more difficult and meaningful than swiping a card and “giving” them this imaginary-feeling money. It doesn’t leave an impression at all. You can easily spend without even thinking about it.
You think twice — or even three times — when you hand someone your hard-earned cash. That’s the benefit. But if your “cushion” isn’t dwindling slowly and you are fine with your system, no need to change!
Ultimately, do what works for your family. Using cash envelopes has completely changed our family (for the better!). They might not work for you, but you’ll never know until you try. Thank you to Money Saving Mom® for introducing this to us.
Kristen is 27-year-old mother of one happy toddler and wife of one great man. She has many earthly passions which she attempts to use to stir her affections for Christ on her blog, GettingMoreGod.blogspot.com. She hopes to see His hand in all of the passions He’s given her here on Earth. She wants everything to point back to Him. That’s the challenge, and she writes about the process of discovering it!