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

cash envelope tabs

Do you find yourself with not enough money? Are you over spending? 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 sight you can get step by step help with a free app that 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 runs 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 you budget and decide how much you have to spend in 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 in your envelope or tab.

How easy is that?

Now Dave is a Nazi about not borrowing from other envelopes, I not so much. Just depends 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.

online cash envelope system

My husband and I  have used an online version of the envelope system for many, many years. We love it! It is called mvelopes and this is the web page. There is a monthly fee that we paid until we became a lifetime members and now it is free for the rest of our lives. It has been well worth the money spent. We save so much money every month by not overspending, therefore, the fee is irrelevant. You can sign up for a free one month trial. Give it a whirl, what have you got to lose?

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 real convenient.
  2. We pay off our credit cards automatically every month. This makes the online system real 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.

paper cash envelopes - youmakeitsimple.comAs 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 - youmakeitsimple.comTWO 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 real productive. Also, the people behind you in the checkout line are not real 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!

cash envelope tabs - youmakeitsimple.comTa-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?

There are a few options.

Make your own

cash envelope tabs-youmakeitsimple.comFor you DIY folks, you can purchase the PDF download here in my shop or in 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 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 sale these tabs from this PDF file.

Order Them already made

printable cash envelope tabs -youmakeitsimple.comIf you don’t want to take the time or don’t have the resources to print and laminate, you can purchase them ALREADY MADE, from my Esty shop. 6 tab set, 9 tab set, 12 tab set. If you want to customize your tabs, that is an option.

cash envelope wallet-youmakeitsimple.comWhat 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. I carry a selection of wallets in my Etsy shop that have the tabs included.

The selection varies, depending on what I have available. Get creative and find a wallet that works for you.

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

I get excited on pay day 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 effecting 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!

cash envelope



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  • Kari BrewerDecember 30, 2013 - 7:39 pm

    I can’t get the FREE download….PLEASE HELP!ReplyCancel

  • jannihowellDecember 30, 2013 - 11:44 pm

    Hello Kari,
    Thanks for bringing that to may attention!
    It looks like the link used to “like to download” is not functioning anymore.
    You can go to this post and click on the download button and it should direct you right to the pdf to print.

    Would you just do me a little favor and let me know if that link worked for you and you were able to get the tabs.

    Thanks so much for your interest.
    Warm regards, JanReplyCancel

  • Jenn VAugust 8, 2014 - 3:48 pm

    Thanks for this post! Great help when budgeting with cash!ReplyCancel

  • jannihowellAugust 8, 2014 - 6:21 pm

    You are so welcome. I am glad it was helpful.ReplyCancel

  • Thomas JhonNovember 30, 2015 - 8:14 am

    Where Can I find grocery coupons?
    Cairo DealReplyCancel

    • JanNovember 30, 2015 - 8:23 am

      Grocery coupons is not my expertise. Do you get coupons in your local newspaper? That is where I get mine.ReplyCancel

  • LindsayFebruary 6, 2016 - 11:02 pm

    Link to your etsy to purchase these isn’t working 🙁ReplyCancel

    • JanFebruary 11, 2016 - 1:04 pm

      Hi Lindsay, I just checked the link on my end and it seems to go through fine. The link should take you to the shop front page, where you can scroll through the items in my shop. I have several of the eye pillows listed so the link does not go directly to an individual item.
      Can you tell me what happens on your end when you click on my shop link?
      Thanks. Here is the direct link to my shop.

  • WendyMarch 13, 2016 - 7:11 pm

    Where can I find the black wallet pictured above? It looks like it holds all the cash nicely without being too bulky. Thank you.ReplyCancel

    • JanMarch 15, 2016 - 2:56 pm

      I got this at Gordmans years ago. Yes, it has been a good one for the cash envelope system. They may still carry it, but like I said, it has been a while. Sorry I can’t give you specifics on where to find this wallet. When looking to find a wallet, make sure it it wide enough.They are out there, you just have to think about what kind of space you need. Good luck. Let me know if you find a good one. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • LoloMay 1, 2018 - 8:14 pm

    What is BLOW?ReplyCancel

    • JanMay 1, 2018 - 9:38 pm

      Un-categorized, spontaneous spending. This gives you a little free spending for things unplanned or items you may want to buy at a whim. Give you a little planned freedom.
      I hope that was helpful. Good question, and thanks for asking.ReplyCancel

  • Judy ShermanFebruary 22, 2019 - 12:17 pm

    Jan, it seems that everywhere you go you are helping people. Thank you for all you do to make this world a better placeReplyCancel

    • JanFebruary 22, 2019 - 12:29 pm

      Oh Judy, you are so sweet. I just love you! Let me know if you have questions about anything. Thanks for being YOU!ReplyCancel

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