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I am a huge advocate for cash envelope systems for budgeting. Big fan.
The cash envelope system was such a big part of our debt-free journey.
Every single payday, I would take a look at our budget, then head to the bank to take out cash. The tellers knew me because I was the person who asked for $300 in only $5s, $10s, and $20s.
Using the cash envelope system along with our monthly budget was probably the biggest factor in how quickly we paid off our debt. That’s a bold statement, but it’s true.
What is a cash envelope wallet?
Simply put, a cash envelope wallet works alongside your budget to help you stick to your household budget categories.
Say, in your monthly budget, you allocated $500 for the month in food (groceries, restaurants, coffee). You allocated $250 for the first paycheck of the month and $250 for the second paycheck of the month.
You would head to the bank, take out the $250 plus any other household budget items you allocated for that paycheck, and stuff your envelopes.
The cash envelope system really only works for the things you’re able to pay cash for. Your student loans, for example, aren’t easy to pay cash for. But gas, food, entertainment, and other miscellaneous items like that are perfect for the system!
The wallet itself is great for keeping all of your cash envelopes together in one protected spot.
14 cash envelope systems for your budget
This wallet is very good quality and bonus: the envelopes that come with it are magnetic fabric envelopes! No more fading/tearing/ripping your cash envelopes with these. Such a great idea.
The wallet itself has 12 slots for cards, two side pockets, and a zipper pocket for your change.
Since it only comes with 5 envelopes (which might fit your needs just fine!), you might need to grab more of their magnetic envelopes. Plus, they sell them in so many different varieties of colors!
Not technically a cash envelope wallet, but large enough that it could easily fit your envelopes. Plus, it’s a very nice looking wallet!
There are four different pockets to store your envelopes, a zipper pocket for your change, 8 card slots. It also comes with a removable wristlet.
Bonus: it’s RFID blocking!
Saveyon made the list a couple of times, mostly because they come well-rated on Amazon.
This RFID blocking wallet comes with 12 plastic envelopes, 12 budget-tracking sheets and monthly budget sheets, and 24 envelope labels. Plus, the envelopes all have different designs, so it’s easy to differentiate.
There are also 12 card slots, a zippered change pocket, a pen loop, stretchable coupon/receipt pocket, and a removable wristlet.
This wallet has it all!
This crossbody wallet utilizes labeled clips instead of envelopes. It’s really a matter of preference on if you would rather have clips or envelopes. Clips would likely last longer! Plus, you’re able to store more bills using a clip than an envelope.
The downside is that these clips are pre-labeled, so you are kind of stuck with what each represents. The clips are savings, house, food, personal and clothing, giving/saving, and recreation.
It comes with 6 budget clips, a budget planner, and the clutch with wristlet. The difference between the budget planner that comes with this wallet versus other wallets is this one is an actual book planner with a spiral binding. I like that!
This wallet also features a pen loop, 16 card slots, and 5 internal storage pockets.
The Topnew wallet features 12 budget envelopes and sheets, a small binder for notes, and 24 stickers to label your envelopes. There are also 12 card slots, 2 ID windows, 2 bill compartments, a pin loop, and a zipper pocket.
Some downsides are that it does not come with a wristlet, in case you want to carry it alone. And it is not RFID blocking, in case that is important to you.
The Dayuup Organizer is not exactly a wallet, but it is a cash envelope system. Because of that, it is missing a zipper pocket, card holders, and the typical wallet look.
On the other hand, it comes with a clear, plastic organizer that is about the same size as the wallets in this list.
It comes with 12 cash envelopes, 12 budget sheets, and 48 labels.
This wallet came pretty highly rated on Amazon! People really like the leather wallet and how spacious it is.
It comes with 12 card slots, 1 zipper pouch, 1 binder for note-taking, and 12 envelopes. There are also multiple color options!
AnconKton also makes it easy to purchase extra envelopes directly from the wallet listing, so you don’t have to hunt them down.
I was pretty excited about this one. It is probably the highest-rated wallet that I’ve looked at on Amazon, so it’s well-vetted. People seem to really like the customer service!
It comes with the cash wallet, binder for notes, 12 budget sheets, and 12 budget envelopes. It also comes with 2 coupon slots, 12 card slots, 2 bill compartments, a zipper pocket, and a large pocket to fit the binder.
The downsides are there are only two color choices (red and black), there’s no wristlet, and it’s not RFID blocking. Although it’s up to you to decide if those are indeed downsides!
The Three Way Cut wallet is another one that comes highly-rated on Amazon.
Unlike a lot of other wallet systems in this list, this wallet features envelopes that open horizontally instead of vertically (just in case a vertical opening is annoying to you).
There are three color choices (blue, black, and red), a yearly budget planner sheet, 12 monthly budget cards, and 12 cash envelopes. There are also 12 card slots, a removable wristlet, binder note, zipper pocket, bill compartments, a coupon slot, and a pen holder.
Here’s another on the list that isn’t necessarily a wallet, but works very similarly to it. Plus, it came highly-rated as well!
It comes with 4 card slots, 2 pen loops, and 2 large pockets.
The downside is that you’ll have to buy the A6 size 6-hole pockets separately to store your cash. This isn’t so bad, since the pockets and binder together cost about the same as one of the wallets in this list.
I really like this wallet. It has a nice design, and there are many to choose from.
Something to keep in mind with this wallet is that the “envelopes” are built in slots instead of dedicated envelopes. So in this case, you can’t add or subtract envelopes. But they’re probably the most durable “envelopes” in this list because of that!
There are 8 envelope slots with customizable label inserts, 6 card slots, 2 window ID slots, a checkbook pocket, pen loop, and one extra pocket. It also features a removable wristlet. On the back of the wallet, there is a zippered pouch for your coins.
I like this one because it doesn’t look like the other wallets (plain) in this list. This one comes with nice patterns! It also looks more like a wallet to me than any of the others on this list.
A downside is this is not RFID-blocking. But if you’re looking for one in this design, you’re in luck! Bella Taylor made an RFID-blocking version.
The Rnairni wallet comes with 12 envelopes, 12 budget sheets, 1 binder note, a removable wristlet, and a pen. It also comes with 12 card slots, 2 ID windows, 2 bill compartments, 1 coupon slot, 1 zipper pocket, and 1 exterior button pocket. Talk about storage!
And like the Three Way Cut wallet on this list, the envelopes open horizontally.
One thing that kind of gets under my skin about this system is that they misspell “envelope” (they spell it without the “e” at the end). It’s not a dealbreaker of course, but it does get to me!
This one is similar to the Dayuup Organizer, since it’s not a wallet.
The Hommie Organizer is a binder that comes with 12 money envelopes, 12 budget sheets, and 48 labels.
It’s not ideal if you have a lot of change that you like to keep with your cash, since the envelopes have a standard folding closure (no zippered pockets or slide-to-close envelopes).
14. CLUCI Wallet
I included this regular wallet because it is large enough to fit your cash envelopes (does not come with the envelopes) and comes highly rated.
The downside is that you’d have to purchase some envelopes to make it a complete cash envelope system. The upside to that is you get to choose exactly what kind of envelope system you want! You could choose binder clips, fabric, magnetic envelopes, plastic slide-to-close envelopes, or any other type of envelope on the market to make it your own.
It comes in a variety of colors, is leather, has 15 card slots, 3 note compartments, a zipper coin pocket, an ID window, and a pen loop.
How do you use the cash envelope system?
The cash envelope system is actually pretty simple once you get started. The biggest issue will likely be which budget categories you should use with the envelopes, which should be easy after we talk through it!
Cash envelopes are ideal for things you are able to pay cash for. So, expenses like loans/credit cards, cable/streaming, utilities, and insurance will likely continue to be paid through your debit card.
Expenses like food, fuel, entertainment, and other things that you pay at a counter work great for cash envelopes.
Once you have the categories that you would like to use cash for, it’s time to use your monthly household budget to find out how much you’re allocating to those expenses.
Calculate how much in total you will need to take out in cash by looking through your budget and adding those categories together. Say you have $350 allocated this paycheck to everything you want to use cash for, like food/coffee, fuel, movies, and blow money.
Head to the bank and take out your cash. I always take out my cash in $5s, $10s, and $20s because it’s easiest to divvy up.
Next, stuff your envelopes with how much belongs in each expense category.
Use your cash to pay for those expenses until next payday.
The important piece here is that, once you run out of cash in that envelope, you’re out!
It’s the best way out there to keep your budget in check.
Handing over cash activates the pain receptors in your brain, and makes you want to not spend it. With debit cards, it’s a simple swipe and hope the money is there.
Using the cash envelope system is an amazing way to keep your budget in check and help you reign back spending.
Categories to use with the cash envelope system
Like I talked about in the last section, the best categories to use with the cash envelope system are those that you pay at the counter.
Categories like food, fuel, and entertainment are a few of the ideal categories to pay with cash.
If you need some help figuring out all of right budget categories for your own budget, be sure to download our free printable with over 150 potential household budget categories you could be incorporating into your budget!
What to do with leftover money in cash envelopes
What if you have leftover money in your envelope?
That’s a great problem to have!
There are a few different things you could do, depending on where you’re at in your financial journey.
1. Apply the leftover to debt
If you’re in the process of paying off your debt, every little bit counts!
Deposit the leftover cash and apply it directly to your principal payment (don’t apply it to your next payment; that includes interest!).
2. Send it over to your savings
This can be whatever you’re saving up for right now.
Some are saving up for a bulky emergency fund. Or perhaps you’re saving for a vacation later down the road. Or retirement!
Whatever you’re saving for, just apply that extra money right to your savings. Imagine if you’re constantly over $50 in all of your categories each month. That’s $600 a year!
3. Add it to another envelope
If you didn’t drive as much this paycheck and saved that money in fuel, that extra money can go toward a different envelope category now.
That could mean an extra night of eating out, another quick coffee on the way to work, or candy at the movie theater!
That’s our breakdown and list of great cash envelope systems!
Have you used a cash envelope wallet before? Which of these envelope systems would be best for you?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments!