Dave Ramsey's Envelope System

from daveramsey.com on 05 Sep 2009
 

On a budget? Still over-spending? Trying to figure out the best way to organize your money and spend wisely?

All it takes is setting up a simple system.

Grandma's way to handle money still works. People used to always use cash envelopes to control their monthly spending, but very few do in today's card-swiping culture. The envelope system is a key component of the Total Money Makeover plan because it works. Here are a few simple basics for starting a cash envelope system:

Budget each paycheck.

Budget is a dirty word to most people, but you must budget down to the last dime if you're going to successfully implement the envelope system.

Divide and conquer.

Of course, there will be budget items that you cannot include in your envelope system, like bills paid by check or automatic withdraw. However, you can create categories like food, gas, clothing and entertainment.

Fill 'er Up.

After you've categorized your cash expenses, fill each envelope with the money allotted for it in your budget. For example, if you allow $100 for clothing, put $100 in cash in your clothing envelope for the month.

When it's gone, it's gone.

Once you've spent all the money in a given envelope, you're done spending for that category. If you go on a shopping spree and spend the $100 in your clothing envelope, you can't spend any more on clothes until you budget for that category again. That means no visits to the ATM to withdraw more money!

Don't be tempted.

While debit cards can't get you directly into debt, if used carelessly, they can cause you to over-spend. There's something psychological about spending cash that hurts more than swiping a piece of plastic. If spending cash whenever possible can become a habit, you'll be less likely to over-spend or buy on impulse.

Give it time.

It will take a few months to perfect your envelope system. Don't give up after a month or two if it's not clicking. You'll get the hang of it and see how beneficial the envelope system is as you dump debt, build wealth, and achieve financial peace! See ... simple!

Certainly, some bills may come in at different times of the month, so you'll need to adjust your written game plan to take it one step further. You need to plan the budget based upon your pay periods.

Say that you get paid twice a month. If you can write down which bills you plan on paying from each paycheck, you will not be left with a surprise bill. Spend each month's income and each individual paycheck on paper before it comes in.

Have some fun!

There's also no problem in adding for "blow money"—money to have a little fun with! As long as you and your spouse have agreed on it, you are fine. There should be no lying. Agree on your budget, agree on your fun money, and be open. Fun money can be anything you want it to be. There are no rules on that envelope, unlike money in the "entertainment" envelope that is used specifically for entertainment.

Start now! Get on a plan and organize your cash with a wide range of envelope systems.

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