Monday, 29 June 2009

Are You Using the Envelope System?

Heather Beauty That Moves

The envelope system for budgeting one's money/cash has been written about very nicely in many places on the web. If you are not familiar with this system please check out some great info at the following places:
The Simple Mom
Envelope System Tutorial

For quite some time I have wanted to implement this system for our family. Part of what has kept me from getting started (procrastination aside) was the lack of an 'envelope' that seemed suitable. Standard paper envelopes would be messy and not very secure, could easily tear, and would need regular replacing which seemed wasteful. Plastic pencil cases (I've seen this suggested) seemed a little large and I honestly couldn't get too excited about purchasing a bunch of plastic cases. Eventually, I came to my crafty senses and found my solution lying right in my own supplies.

Following this tutorial, I made four (to start, I bet I'll think of one or two more categories) cloth, reusable zipper pouches, sewed a strip of linen (leaving the edges raw) to the front, and used rubber stamps with fabric ink to spell the words of my cash spending categories. I carefully chose to make these just a bit larger than our American currency, I wanted them to be just big enough.

I used a 7 inch zipper, and cut my fabric pieces (outside and lining) 4.25" x 9". There is a little squaring-up that takes places after all the pieces are attached to the zipper, this combined with seam allowances made these measurements work really nicely for finished money pouches..

My Categories:
Threads (clothing)
Good Times (dining out, movies, concerts, museums...)

I chose not to use a cash envelope for gas/fuel. Here in the states we can pay at the gas pump with a debit card - having a child in the car it works well to just go ahead and pay this way rather than running into the store with cash for the clerk. Currently, my daughter has been asking to go into the store to pay (if we are using cash), but it is summertime and I just don't see her interest in leaving the warm car lasting through the winter months. ;) So, because I see no long-term pattern here, I skipped making a pouch for petro.

Do any of you use this system? What works for you - what doesn't work? I am so looking forward to the sense of control, organization, and order that I imagine comes with this practice.

As a side note - as I was reading up on this method I read a comment in which someone stated the sense of financial understanding children (even little children) have from being in a family that uses the envelope system - that once the money is gone... it's gone! Such simplicity, of course they get that.