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Ask Dave

Envelope Lesson Learned

Darren says his wife lost her purse. She had their cash envelopes in it, and they lost their budgeted cash. Is there a way to protect yourself from losing the envelopes when you're out of the house?

QUESTION: Darren in Idaho says his wife was out shopping and lost her purse. She had their cash envelopes in it, which means they lost their budgeted cash. Is there a way to protect yourself from losing the envelopes when you’re out of the house? Dave says there really isn’t except for learning a hard lesson like this.

ANSWER: It doesn’t happen very much because when people are carrying around cash, they’re generally more careful than that. It has happened a few times, but I don’t hear it every week, and we have literally millions of families who have gone through Financial Peace University. Generally, it’s not much.

I can remember back when I first started teaching class and I was teaching it in person in those days—not a DVD or something—I remember one time a single lady left one of her envelopes somewhere. Boy, you’ll never do it again. It just hurts too bad. Your wife’s probably going into orbit. She probably feels so stupid that she’ll never do this again. I drove off from a restaurant last night, drove 15 minutes home, and left my cell phone at the restaurant. I had to turn around and drive back. I’ll probably watch my cell phone a little closer for the next year, wouldn’t you think, just because I was so ticked at myself for being that stupid. It’s that kind of thing. There’s an ouch associated with it that causes you to be more careful. You don’t want to leave your wallet—even if it’s just full of credit cards—lying around. You’ve got to go through and replace the driver’s license and all that stuff. I’m sorry, man. That’s a pain in the butt. There’s not a real technique. The technique would be called something smart aleck and obvious like be more careful.

I probably wouldn’t carry the whole month around. We don’t carry that around. Sharon doesn’t do that. She’ll leave some at home or some in a safe or something at the house. It’s not a bunch of money anyway. We do it by every two weeks. We do it on the first and the 15th because that’s how we pay here. My payroll is the first and the 15th. We’ve only got half a month anyway of envelopes, and even then, if she’s got an amount that she’s kind of nervous about, she’ll leave the clothing envelope—if it’s built up a little bit—at home because she doesn’t want to set her purse down and then look up and there’s a problem or something like that. She carries the deluxe envelope system that has the checkbook and everything built into it and all that stuff that we have here. That’s what we really use to this day.

I’m sorry. It’s just an ouchie. It’s just like me leaving that cell phone lying there. The only difference was I got my cell phone back, thank goodness. I was just dumb. You kick yourself when you do that.