By Kelsey on August 21, 2012 18

New Cash Envelopes

cash envelopes

A little money update! We recently added two new cash envelopes to our budgeting system, so now we have four cash envelopes.

(I actually told you last fall that we were considering them, and we have finally officially put them into practice.)

  • Date night ($10/week): We don’t get out on a date every week anymore, but I think in the back of our minds we are constantly evaluating if we need one. Are we feeling disconnected or off; is someone particularly stressed out; or was there an unnecessary, uncharacteristic blow-up? That is typically how we decide that we need to get away. And as the envelope grows we get antsy about getting out of the house just the two of us. If we have a date night once a month that is at least $40 we have to use (babysitter fees come out of this, too). We’ve got some awesome friends and parents, though, who have given us free babysitting. We’ve only had to pay for one babysitter so far. Our dates are a little different than they used to be, of course. We like to be home by 9:30 or so since Rooney wakes up at 6 a.m. We usually grab some food and maybe froyo, and always run a few errands on to our date, whether it’s going to the bank, getting groceries or whatever. Last time we dropped Eric’s bike off at Scheel’s for a tune-up. Things like that. Tomorrow night our date is going to a free healthy eating class, and a gal from our life group has offered to watch Rooney for free.
  • Toiletries ($10/week): This includes laundry detergent, personal and beauty products, toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, etc. We don’t need all these items each week, but it seems like we spend an average of $10/week on them. Having this money set aside in cash has definitely taken the pressure off when we need toilet paper and want to buy in bulk, or to not make us feel guilty when we need more lotion. There’s no hassle of having to add it to the budget, because it’s already accounted for.

We also use cash for all food and hair care purchases, which I talked about here.

Do you use cash to pay for certain purchases?



I love my husband, my kids and the Internet.

  1. Hi guys!
    I am trying to implement the cash envelope system, where do you get your envelopes? I tried Staples but no luck!!

  2. I think this system is so neat, but I get so nervous when I think of doing it myself. I want to budget my money better, but I feel like (especially with my personality) I would feel constrained if I gave myself an absolute set amount each month. Do you or Eric ever feel like that? Or is the fact that you keep to your budget every month enough, haha? Like that whole, “financial freedom” thing? :)

    • That is an interesting question. I think, if we didn’t have $100 IN CASH each week for food, that I would spend more than that (I love eating out!), and Eric would spend less (dude could eat cold meat sandwiches every meal if he knew it freed up money for other areas). So this is our happy medium. He’s happy because there’s a limit to what we’re spending, and I don’t have to feel guilty for spending money on food because we’ve previously agreed to the amount and that’s what it’s there for.

      At times I do feel a little constrained. And sometimes I complain about it. This past weekend, we were at the mall and I wanted a Pretzelmaker so bad! But we had already spent $88 on groceries and needed to conserve for the rest of the week. So I went home and had leftovers…but not without some grumbling :) If I had been on my own, I would have bought one. So I know I need someone else to keep me in check.

      The thing is, sometimes we mess up. Sometimes we realize that it’s more important to fellowship with friends over a meal than stay home. So we pull money from other areas in our budget. It’s harder in the summer to stick to our budget, for some reason. Typically in the winter we have no issue.

      P.S. We used to get $90/week for food and that was too stressful and unrealistic, so now we get $100. You can spend as much as you want on food (or anything else for that matter!), you just have to make sure you aren’t spending more than you make. That’s what a budget is for.

  3. thanks for sharing. husband and i were talking about this last month. wondering what envelope the toiletries and cleaning supplies should come from. we are new to the cash thing and still figuring out the envelope system … but getting better.

    • We don’t buy some of those items often enough (laundry detergent, mainly) to remember where the money comes from. It’s hard. Sometimes we’ll take it out of FOOD if we have extra that week. It just depends. Hopefully our toiletries envelope takes the guess out of it in the future. I’m just hoping $10/week is enough. We may need to bump it up. Some weeks we spend $5 and the next we spend $40. It varies so much.

  4. love using cash! we have an “incidentals/misc” category that catches toiletries if the grocery budget is tight. it also catches haircuts and other too-infrequent-to-budget-regularly-for items like dishtowels or a new throw pillow… things we want or need, but only once a year or so. it’s also been known to catch a pretzel from the mall from time to time ;-)

    • those pretzels at the mall get me every time! ;) haha. we have something similar, i think, which we call BLOW money. unfortunately, this month we’ve already spent it – at the Iowa State Fair.

  5. we are new to using the envelopes and are still trying to work out the kinks and try to find something that suits us. I found this website very helpful for us and others may find it helpful too. It lets you create a budget then breaks everything down for you into months and weeks for each envelope (she uses jars). Hope others can find it really useful as well. she also has a lot of other great tools and articles to use.

  6. We use cash envelopes for: groceries, eating out, date nights, beauty (haircuts/pedicures), household (laundry/toiletries), and we each get our own spending envelopes to use on whatever we want. We take all of the money out at the beginning of the month, except for groceries which we take out once/week, along with our “lunch money”. How do you guys only spend $100 on groceries AND eating out every week? I feel like I am a really smart shopper, but at the end of the week we have NOTHING left to eat. And Everett is still breastfeeding so he doesn’t even count as a family member yet! Ha.

    • we eat out 1-2 times/week, and eat pretty cheap/light otherwise. however, since we’ve started eating more organic, it’s been tight. i think we may need to up our food budget soon. we’re going to a healthy eating class tomorrow night and that will help us decide together how much we’re willing to invest in it!

  7. My husband and I LOVE Dave’s teachings, we listen to him all the time and often find ourselves saying, “What would Dave say about this?” Haha! We are working hard at sticking to our budget and have thought about using cash because we like the idea of being able to say “When the cash is used up, so is the budget,” but we’ve been using (LOVE this site) for about three years to track our budget and spending, and I think switching to cash would make it really difficult to track our spending this way. Have you run into any difficulties like that? How do you keep track of everything when you’re spending cash all of the time?

    • Hey Kelley! We used to use until we got good with our budget. Now we track everything on our spreadsheet (we bold an amount when it’s spent; unbold until it’s official). If you still want to use Mint, I’d imagine when you do the ATM transaction, you just change the Category from Cash & ATM to Food & Dining. And, obviously, now we keep track of how much we have left by what’s in the envelope!

      Using cash particularly helps when you have a tendency to overspend or make impulse decisions (like standing in the checkout lane). In the end, you have to do what’s best for you. Using cash is supposed to make it easier to stay within budget–not harder!

  8. I think implementing something like this would motivate me to get creative and crafty with tings like making my own laundry detergent, which is much cheaper than buying it. I’ve started making my own granite countertop cleaner because I wanted a more natural cleaning product, and it’s dirt cheap.

Leave a Reply


Text formatting is available via select .

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>