DIY Cash Envelope Wallet System: Get a Grip on Your Spending

Diy cash envelope system
Diy cash envelope system

Do you find yourself with not enough money? Are you overspending? Do you have a budget? It’s time to get a grip on your spending with the cash envelope wallet system!

Have you ever heard of Dave Ramsey? He is the guy who is crazy and passionate about getting out of debt. One of the main things he teaches about is using CASH ONLY! How does using cash only help things?  When the money is gone it is gone! If you can’t use a credit card, you can’t overspend.

Create a budget

The first step in getting control of your money is to make a budget. Dave gives some great tips on how to do this. Yes, creating a budget can seem very overwhelming, but it is NECESSARY! You gotta take a look at where your money is going.

On Dave’s site, you can get step-by-step help with a free app that is available. This app will help you set up your budget the easy way. You can access it from your computer, iPhone, or Android device. You can locate it HERE.

I love this quote.

“A budget is telling your money where to go, instead of wondering where it went.” John Maxwell


A great way to learn more about getting out of debt is to take Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University Course. You can take it online or join a group. My husband and I have taken his Financial Peace University Class. It cost us about $129.00 and it was the best money we ever spent! Once you take the class, you and your family can go back and retake it at any time.

We have attended it a few times, just to keep refreshed and motivated. The second time we went, we took our teenage and young adult kids to a few of the main classes. It was good for them. I wish I would have known and done things differently when I was their age!

The classes run for nine weeks. You can go to this site and find a class near you, or take the course online. I highly recommend it!

What is the cash envelope system?

This is how the system works.

  • You take the categories from your budget and decide how much you have to spend on each. It’s a good idea to use the envelope system for items that tend to bust your budget. Think of things like groceries, restaurants, entertainment, gas, and clothing.
  • Assign an envelope or tab to each category.
  • Then you take out cash from the bank and place that allowed amount in the assigned envelopes. It works like this: Let’s say you’ve budgeted $260 for the pay period for groceries. When you get your paycheck, take out $260 from your bank account and put the cash in the corresponding envelope (file). When you get your second paycheck, do the same thing again. Simple, right?
  • You can see exactly how much money you have left in a budget category just by taking a quick peek at your envelope or tab.

How easy is that?

Now Dave is a Nazi about not borrowing from other envelopes, I am not so much. Just depends on how strict you want to be with this. However, the more strict you are, the better you are going to follow the plan.

Dave’s theory: No money—and I mean zero money—comes out of that Groceries envelope except to pay for food at the grocery store. Make sure you take enough money with you to cover your groceries for that trip. If you take $150 cash and your total comes to $160, take some things out of the cart and put them back. I know, I know—it’s hard! But it’s better than going over in your grocery category and busting your whole budget for the month! And make sure you put any change you get back in the envelope.


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 getting out of debt because it works! All it takes is setting up a simple system.

How to set up your cash envelope system

  • Create a budget
  • Choose different spending accounts (envelopes)
  • 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. This can be for 2 weeks or a month, depending on your budget.

  • When the money is gone, it is gone.
  • No more putting things on credit if you are serious about getting out of debt!

***However, we do it a little differently. We do have a few credit cards for several reasons.

  1. My husband travels frequently and having a wad of cash is not always really convenient.
  2. We pay off our credit cards automatically every month. This makes the online system really easy to use with the convenience of a credit card. I am sure Dave would not agree, but it works for us.

What kind of wallet or system is best?

There are many ways to set up your envelope system. I have tried a few of them. The first one I used was a wallet that came with the class. It was a nice leather wallet but had paper envelopes.

As you can see, after only a few months of using this, the paper envelopes were trashed. Another thing I did not like, is that I had to carry ANOTHER wallet in my purse. SERIOUSLY, WHO HAS ROOM FOR ANOTHER WALLET?

TWO wallets? NOPE!

Make your own wallet? There are patterns out there to make your own. Just make sure that it will carry everything you need so you are not needing two wallets. If you don’t sew, this isn’t an option.

Personally, I don’t like using actual envelopes. Fumbling through a bunch of envelopes at the checkout can be stressful and takes too much time. Half the time I would be in such a hurry that I would just end up grabbing cash from a random envelope and have to figure things out later. Not really productive. Also, the people behind you in the checkout line are not really thrilled to sit and watch you manage your cash.

The answer

I thought long and hard and finally came up with a system that REALLY WORKS!

Ta-dah! I designed these simple tabs that you can place in your already existing wallet. The tabs separate your cash into categories. No more fumbling through a bunch of envelopes! They are the BEST!

How do you get these tabs?

For you DIY folks, you can purchase the PDF download in my shop or my Etsy shop and make your own. The ALTERABLE PDF file, allows you to type in whatever categories you want and print out as many as you want.

  • and put it in your wallet!

*****You may print out as many times as you want for your own personal use. These make great COUPON TABS as well. You may NOT print to sell these tabs from this PDF file.

What kind of wallet works best?

You can buy a normal wallet and place the tabs in it. Make sure the wallet has a pleated section and is wide enough for tabs.

So, there you have it, a SIMPLE, DIY, INEXPENSIVE, and very PRACTICAL way to go about organizing your cash.

I get excited on payday when I go to the bank, get cash, and fund my envelopes. It’s like a game. It has really helped me see where I’m spending my money, and I am saving money.

Knowing that I am staying within my means, makes me feel empowered and in control of money, instead of money controlling me.


Related posts

Do you have limiting beliefs that are keeping you stuck, blocked, and broke?

You may be interested in this post.

What is your relationship with money?

These programs in your head may be affecting how much money you have. Learn more about it here.

Give it a whirl!  Let me know if you have any questions, or if you have some great cash-handling tips.

Happy budgeting!






  1. Hi Jan. Thank you for your time and information! You may want to update this article to reflect that Mvelopes is closing it’s virtual doors December 29, 2022.

    Eagerly awaiting delivery of my cash wallet!

    • Thanks for your feedback. I just edited the information about mvelopes. So sad to have it end, but I have found another app that I think I like even better. You may want to check into it. It’s call YNAB.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Picture of Jan Howell

Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

Read More

Recommended Posts