I find that envelope budgeting works really well for me to keep me aware of how much money I really have. Without a good visual I tend to think, “Hey, there is $500 in the bank. I can afford x, y and z.” I really cannot afford x, y and z. Out of that $500 I need to buy groceries, gas, pay a doctor visit co-pay, buy a birthday gift for me son, you get the idea. Without out a visible spending plan I forget all of that. And something suffers, either more debt is racked up or we eat potato soup. Not a good way to live.
So I had been using a cash envelope system and it was working really well. I was using a special wallet that I had purchased from here, and had written a blog post about it. Good times. Then our bank decided to sell it’s branch in our town to another financial institution. I did not want to change banks, I have things automatically deducted each month, and I have been very happy with our bank. Free checking, I have never had problems with my balance not matching the balance they have. Year’s ago, before our current bank we were with another bank and my balance never matched their balance with no explanation, ever. I didn’t want to change, nope. But I now had a problem, I couldn’t just go to the bank and get out cash each payday. The drive to our bank in the next town was 40 miles. So, I floundered for a while.
Then I started doing some research into how I could do a cash envelope system without cash. I read a blog where someone used pretend money to work their system for the visual but used their debit card. At first I thought that might be the solution for me. But as I thought about it I figured it would be too inconvenient for me. For instance, let’s say I put fake twenties in my grocery envelope. I spend $73 on groceries and then I have to go to the trouble of making change for myself, so I have to keep extra fake money in my wallet to make change with. After thinking for a while I realized I would not want to do that. I tend to be a bit lazy.
I thought maybe an app or some software might be a solution. There are some great apps out there, and some excellent software. But I needed something I can carry with me. I need a constant visual. My cell phone doesn’t hold a charge anymore, so an app wouldn’t work. If I used the app, I couldn’t have my phone available for calls/texting. It just wouldn’t be reliable. And also I have noticed that apps come and go so quickly. I didn’t want to get used to something and then have to change because I updated my phone.
I realized that what I really needed was a tiny ledger that I could carry around to keep track of each “envelope”. I could use my debit card and keep a running total. I’ve blogs where people do it with an index card or envelope and write in little boxes. But that seemed to sloppy for me. Or maybe I just like to complicate things while keeping them simple? Is that possible? I couldn’t find what I wanted, so I designed it. It prints on one sheet of paper, printing on both sides. The paper is cut into fourths, the pieces stacked, folded and stapled and a tiny ledger is made. It works! I can see how much is available in each category and I can adjust it each paycheck, starting a new little book.