By Katie / Featured / Home / Money

{Spend Savvy: The Envelope System}

A few years ago I was living in Nashville and working two jobs just to get by with the various bills, rent, and school loans I acquired upon my entry into adult life. I can remember days when I would wake up for a 7am shift at the grocery store, work until 3pm, then head over to my serving job at 4pm and sometimes work until midnight. Those were NOT the days.

Although that was not an ideal time for sleep, it taught me a lot about how to budget (because I was forced to), and I spent a lot of time reading tons of different finance books, and looking for ways to save money.


It sounds super nerdy, but I LOVE reading investment and finance books.

I really enjoy learning new ways that I can save, how and where to invest my money, and tips on cutting down my debt. Today I want to share something I learned from Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover that has really stuck with me. That something is his Envelope System. I really enjoy everything about the Total Money Makeover, so if you haven’t read it I HIGHLY reccommend it. You can get it now for $10 on Dave’s website, or you can save some $$ and check the L.I.B. (that’s what I call the library). One summer when Chels and I were both living in Nashville, we ventured to the L.I.B. for an afternoon, and I came across the Total Money Makeover. I devoured it, and immediately got started on trying to pay down my debt. I haven’t been as crazy as the book suggests, and I am still not debt free, but I am in a much better place than I would be if I hadn’t read it at all.The book is simple but radical, and I have never read anything that has motivated me more in terms of my finances. The one thing I continue to do EVERY week, no matter what, is use my own version of the envelope system.

Before I get my paycheck, I sit down and write out all of my spending on paper. I write the bills I am paying (loans, phone,the list goes on), what I need to spend money on (groceries, etc), what I am saving for (weddings, investments, upcoming expenses), and what I am giving (to my church or charity). I put the name of each expense on the outside of an envelope, and I allocate an amount to each envelope. Here is an example of some of the categories that I use:


$50- Upcoming Friend’s Wedding

$100- Food & Gas

$20- Church/Charity

$50- Miscellaneous/Fun

I put each amount into individual paper envelopes, but I am hoping to get one of these  Envelope System Wallets on Etsy soon- so cute and practical!

Once I have put an amount of money into an envelope that is ALL THAT I HAVE for that category for the week. If I run out of cash, I don’t have a credit card or any other way to pay for it, so I can’t keep spending. What you see is what you get. It has really helped me to keep my spending in check, and I really prefer to use cash (even over my debit cards), because when I see the money physically leaving my hands it is definitely more difficult to spend.

However, there is still tempatation when using this system, and I sometimes find myself taking money from another category to fund eating out, or miscellaneous expenses. In an effort to get back on track I started doing something different this month. I created an Excel document of everything I am spending. This really gave me a reality check about what I was purchasing in the coffee department, and I adjusted my habits for this week. It is definitely eye-opening to see all of the ways one can choose to throw money out the window each month. Instead of being upset about past carelessness, I am using it as motivation to change future spending habits.


My goal this month is to consciously approach the way I spend or save my paycheck, so that I have more money for the things I really need.

What are some of your favorite ways to save? What are things you have done to curb not-so-savvy spending? I would love to know things that have worked for you!




One thought on “{Spend Savvy: The Envelope System}

  1. Lovely post. I, myself, am looking into an envelope system wallet. I just have to make sure my budget allows it 😉

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