Cash envelope budgeting is one of the baby steps that Dave Ramsey suggests in his guideline to financial freedom. These 5 free DIY cash envelope templates make it easy for you to budget your money the Dave Ramsey way. As Dave explains in his book Total Money Makeover, using cash helps you track your budgeting better than using a credit or debit card.
If you’re looking for ways to get a handle on your budget, the cash envelope system is tried and true. These free DIY cash envelope templates will easily fit in your wallet to make it easy for purchases. They are slim and easy to transport in a small purse as well.
I worked hard to make these cash envelopes both cute and functional for your use. Below, I’ve also explained the information you’ll need to follow the cash envelope system—why you would need envelopes to budget and how to download and construct the DIY cash envelope templates. If you’re ready to print instead, scroll to the bottom of the post to get the 5 free DIY cash envelope templates now!
What is the Cash Envelope System?
If you don’t want to spend all of your hard-earned money, then sticking to a budget can help you stay on track. The cash envelope system makes it easy for you to follow a budget because you aren’t using your debit or credit card to make purchases. As a result, it’s easier to track cash, and it’s harder to part with it when you need to make a purchase.
With the cash envelope system, you stick to a budget. When the money runs out for the specific category, you are done spending on that item for the month! Don’t transfer money from other envelope categories. This is a big no-no!
What Can You Use DIY Cash Envelope Templates For?
To use the cash envelope system, print out the cash envelope templates and give each one a category such as:
- Eating Out
Think of envelope categories that you regularly use each month. Then, you can use cash envelopes for budgeting your funds. Having a set amount of cash in each envelope makes it simple to see how much money you have left and whether you need to wait until next month to spend more in a particular area.
The cash envelope templates that I have designed will fit in any wallet or purse. I’ve made them the right size to quickly thumb through when you’re standing in line to make a purchase (no awkward giant envelopes or templates that are too small to fit cash.
For example, you are at the nail salon and have budgeted $60 for a manicure for the month. Go your cash envelope labeled “Nails” to use to pay the nail salon. When the money runs out, you need to wait until next month for your next mani.
Is the Cash Envelope Budgeting System Right for Me?
Are you a visual learner? The cash envelope system is a perfect solution for visual learners to keep track of their budgeting on the go. There is no guesswork as to how much money is left in each budgeting category.
Why Is Budgeting Important?
If you’ve ever wondered why budgeting is essential, it’s because it gives you a handle on your money. You can see where your money is going and know how much you can afford to spend. Unlike a credit card (or using a debit card until it’s declined), there is no overspending and buying things that you don’t need. With a cash budget, you’re limited to exactly what you have.
The primary purpose of having a budget is to save money and know where your money is. If you want to feel financially stable, you need to have some cash tucked away in an emergency fund. One of Dave Ramsey’s baby steps to financial freedom is saving $1,000 for household or medical emergencies.
Most people don’t have $1,000 saved in their bank account to cover a sudden emergency. That’s a scary place to be financially. If you don’t have $1,000 saved, then make that your first goal of budgeting.
Get the Busy Mom Budget Planner free to help you work out a budget for your family here.
If you stick to a budget, then you are on the road to financial freedom. The DIY cash envelope system can help you get your money on track.
How to Create a Monthly Budget
So how do you start to create a monthly budget? First, you’ll go through your past financial categories using your bank statement to determine how much you spend. Can you eliminate some subscriptions like Netflix or Boxy Charm? What will it take to get you to your financial goals? Can you lower your monthly bills?
Each year, I try to lower my own family’s utilities and services. Other companies offer promotions all the time to get new customers. I call the competitors of my current company and ask if they can lower my price. If they can’t, I will call my own company and ask if there are new promotions!
Consider using a service like Trim to lower your costs on services and utilities. The Trim personal finance bot makes it easy to switch providers and find the rate best for your budget.
Click here to check out the Trim Personal Finance Bot!
Determine Past Expenses
Once you’ve got your bills trimmed down as much as possible, it’s time to look at your past expenses to fill in your envelopes. For example, last month, your gas bill might have been $150, so put $150 on your gas cash envelope.
A note on gas—gas is essential, so if you are driving more than usual and run out of cash, feel free to use some money in your entertainment envelope. This would be one of the only instances where you should transfer money from envelope to envelope. You don’t want to get stuck with no gas!
Figure out how much money you have spent on other expenses and write it down in a bullet journal or on a budget sheet.
Cash By Paycheck
It’s wise to use cash according to your paycheck schedule as you work on setting up your cash envelope system. When you get paid, cash out your paycheck and sort the money into your cash envelopes. Remember that you must leave some of your wages in your bank account if you have automatic bill payments.
I personally prefer to pay all my bills manually and with cash, if I can. However, some services want automatic debit or credit card payments only.
Use a Spreadsheet
Using a spreadsheet is helpful to manage your expenses but can be challenging to create. Check out the Mom Beach Monthly Budgeting Spreadsheet to budget your expenses. There is a cash by paycheck tab in our spreadsheet as well as other tabs!
Click here to get the Mom Beach Monthly Budget Spreadsheet!
How to Use Cash Envelopes for Budgeting
Once you’ve figured out your budget, you’re ready to start sorting your cash using the DIY cash envelope templates and system. Use the tutorial below to print and construct your free DIY cash envelope templates so you’re ready to use them.
The first month of using the cash envelope system can seem a little overwhelming and scary, but don’t worry. This budgeting system is straightforward.
Create categories for each envelope and write the budgeted amount on that envelope. Then, go to the bank and request cash in $20’s, $10’s, $5’s, and $1’s for your envelopes. Put the allotted money into each categorized DIY cash envelope. If you have loose change, you can put that in the envelope too.
On each envelope template, I have typed “Amount.” Write the amount on each categorized envelope in this area. When you have spent some money, cross off the past amount and put the current amount.
I have provided plenty of space for you to do this with multiple lines.
What Categories do I Put on My Free Cash Envelope Templates?
Everybody’s budget looks a little different, so you’ll want to customize the categories for your envelopes to fit your personal budget. After you planned out your budget, categorize your spending habits. For example, are you doing your nails and hair each month? Then, make those into a category.
For years I was spending money on maintaining a bottle blonde hairstyle. Then, it started getting expensive to bleach my roots each month, so I decided to go back to being a brunette. When you use the cash envelope system, you might find areas where spending cash doesn’t quite seem worth it. But that’s the beauty of using this budgeting system—it’s harder to part with cold hard cash.
Determine your other expenses in your household budget, such as recurring monthly expenses and more.
What are Typical Household Budgeting Categories?
You may not have the typical household. I sure don’t! So, while the cash envelope system looks a little different for everyone, I hope this helps you see what categories you may need.
- Monthly Recurring Expenses – These are expenses like car payments, your mortgage, utilities, water, etc.
- Emergency Savings Fund – Try to save at least $1,000 in your savings fund for emergencies like health car or house mishaps. Open a savings account at your bank and transfer a percentage of your paycheck into this fund (or you can create a cash envelope if you think you absolutely will not touch it).
- Groceries – I have a 3-person household, so I spend $150 for each adult and $100 for my child for groceries. The total is $400 a month for groceries. I still have some money left over when I coupon. How much has your grocery bill been in the past? Consider planning your meals with our Weekly Planning Worksheets!
- Eating Out – Sometimes, when I am too busy and don’t have time to cook, I will eat out with my family. We only do this three times a month or less and budget $150 for this expense. A few months in a row, we have skipped eating! That’s money saved!
- Hair – Are you like I was in the past and must maintain your hair color or need regular haircuts? Consider making a category just for your hair. How much have you been paying for your hair? Put that figure on the cash envelope!
- Beauty – Do you spend money on makeup each month? Every six months, some makeup might expire, so it is best to replace your makeup then. You could put nails into this category, too, unless you want a separate category.
- Entertainment – If you like going to the movies, concerts, sporting events, and more, you need a category for entertainment expenses. For example, is there a Taylor Swift concert coming up that you have the budget for?
- Gas – How much have you been spending on gas in the past months? That figure is hard to change unless you invest in a fuel-efficient vehicle. You could also replace your tires to decrease the amount of gas you spend each month. Smoother tires have less friction on the road.
- Car Maintenance – Set aside some money for car repairs and tow trucks.
- Shoes and Clothes – Try to wear the clothes you already own to avoid spending in the clothing category. When you need something new, check out secondhand shops to save. If you have small children, then regular spending on clothes and shoes is required. You could make a separate envelope for each child and one for yourself too.
- Pets – Do you have fur babies? Then you need to budget for their food and vet care!
- Other – Having a category for unexpected expenses that come up is paramount. You can’t predict the future, after all!
When you decide on your budget categories, label your DIY cash envelopes accordingly. If you have expenses automatically drawn out of your account, like a water bill, you won’t need to cash out that expense (but be sure you leave enough in your account to cover it).
What do you spend money on when you are out and about? Only use your cash envelopes for budgeting those categorized expenses.
If you need more information about Dave Ramsey’s tips, then check out our article on 20 Simple Dave Ramsey Tips You Need to Know Now!
How do I Make the Free DIY Cash Envelope Templates?
You need the following supplies to make your free cash envelopes!
- Color or black and white printer – These free cash envelope templates are pink, so you may want to use a color printer. No color printing? No worries! I tested them in black and white, and they still look pretty. The zigzag design looks silver!
- 8.5 x 11 Paper – This size of paper works the best. You can choose card stock or typing paper. You can even try other kinds of papers if the size is 8.5 x 11!
- Ruler or scorer – This makes folding the DIY cash envelope template on the dashed lines easier.
- Scissors – The free printable cash envelope templates are easy to cut out. There aren’t any fancy cuts you have to make because they’re all straight lines.
- Pen or Pencil – Use a pen or pencil to label the cash envelope print out
- Tape, glue, or glue stick – You need to hold the free cash envelope template together using something sticky! You could use staples too, but it won’t look as nice.
Steps to Make the DIY Cash Envelopes
#1 Print out the cash envelope template
Print the free cash envelope template on white 8.5 x 11 paper or card stock. You want to select “fit to size” so there won’t be any bleed.
#2 Cut out the template on outside edges and fold on dashed lines
Use the scissors to cut out your budget envelope templates on the outer solid lines. Do not cut on any dashed lines because you must fold those. Use a ruler or scorer if needed to make the folds neat.
#3 Fold up Bottom Flap
Fold up the bottom flap of the cash envelope template.
#4 Put glue or tape on the tabs and fold over
On the tabs, put glue or tape and then fold over the flap to create an envelope.
#5 Label the category and write the amount
On the outside of the cash envelope, write the category and the amount inside of the envelope. As you spend the money, cross off that amount, and write in the current amount. Keep the envelope current!
#6 Put the cash envelope in your wallet
Make sure to put the cash envelopes in your wallet to spend your cash on the go. Now you don’t have to worry about overspending. Congratulations!
Where do I get my Free Cash Envelope Templates?
Fill out the form below to get your free cash envelope templates sent directly to your email. There are freebies each month and no spam. Unsubscribe at any time!
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I think your stuff is beautiful. I purchased a lot in the past but was only frustrated time and again that all of the designs printed out black, completely ruining the usable space on the page at times. Someone told me about how it does that when you print from a phone or tablet. I just bought a new laptop so I decided to try again. The images I printed last year are still black, but the images I downloaded this year only the black on the page printed. so the calendar is just a bunch of squares with the name of the month writer in black at the top. As if I did it myself with a ruler and a sharpie. I am an online as well as brick and mortar teacher. I print from the internet constantly. I haven’t experienced this before. Any ideas on how to fix this issue?
Hoping for help!!
That’s strange. Maybe there is something wrong with your printer. I never printed from my cell phone before. Maybe it messes up the alignment. The cash envelopes are full color but look good in greyscale too.