Updated November 2019. This free cash envelope template has been a LONG time coming! I wanted something super cute in a convenient shape that made it easy to just peek into your wallet and count out what you need from each envelope without having to actually remove it from your wallet.
And I was SO CLOSE to getting it right, but things just weren’t lining up correctly, so they’ve been on the back burner ever since. I was inspired to try them again recently, and I think the graphic design program I use finally took pity on me, because it finally worked out!
And here they are… at last! I’ve included two designs and a tutorial with step-by-step instructions below!
What’s The Purpose Of The Cash Envelopes?
I want to introduce the concept of cash envelopes because you will see that there is a great purpose for them. As you organize your money and make a budget, you’ll quickly figure out how much you ACTUALLY spend in each area of your life. It’s great to know it, even if you don’t really like the answer. 😁
If you don’t stick to a fairly strict budget, it is easy to blow through money, and it’s gone in no time. Guess what happens then? You get stressed, and then the entire family ends up stressed.
You can use these cash envelopes to sort your money based on your planned budget. It is easy to see exactly how much you have for each category. These cash envelopes templates will easily slide into a large wallet. Then you can thumb through until you find the envelope you are looking for and pay for your purchase. Especially if you are new to budgeting, paying cash typically makes it easier to keep track of spending than credit cards.
Many of us are visual learners and have to see something to understand it. When you place a certain amount of money in these envelopes, you can see exactly how much you have. There is no question, and it makes it much more real. Trust me, it hurts to lay out cash…
It’s way too easy to take out a piece of plastic to pay for all your purchases. Then you have interest and other charges that can eat you alive. Use the cash envelopes and adhere to a budget, and you’ll be thanking yourself later.
Why Having A Budget Is Important
When you have a budget, you will be able to see exactly where your hard-earned dollars go. There is no second-guessing, overspending and buying large purchases you can’t afford – or in my case, it was a lot of small purchases that just added up! If you’re trying to get out of debt, then it’s vital to keep and stick to a strict budget. Here are a few reasons to have a budget:
- You’ll make smarter choices with your money. For example, let’s say you allot $100 on entertainment each month. You may not be able to afford to go to the movies, several concerts, and other events. So, you’ll need to make a decision to find the entertainment that fits within your budget. It’s all about choices, right?
- It allows you to see how you spend money. Sometimes it’s a rude awakening to see how you actually spend money. Think about how long you have to spend working to make every dollar. Then if you blow it right away on things you don’t really need, it makes it hard to stay out of debt. Using a fine-tooth comb to really look over your spending habits by using a budget will make you see what you want to adjust.
- Budgeting helps you save money for bigger things. Do you want to buy a new house, a car, take a vacation, or spend money on something else that’s larger? Guess what; when you stick to a budget, it helps your goals become obtainable. You’ll automatically be putting money aside each pay period for that large item, and it will add up fast. I use a fun penny challenge game to help me scrounge additional money each year. It is fun and great to get your family involved.
- You can finally start an emergency fund. You don’t have to put tons of money in it to start, but a few dollars out of your budget should go to an emergency fund. This will save you lots of headaches down the road when problems do arise. And I promise, there will always be something that happens. It could be as simple as a hot water heater going out, but it could be more serious like a death in the family. Either way, it’s better to be prepared, and this is a great way to make that happen.
How To Get Started Using Your Cash Envelopes
First of all, when you first start out, this can be a little stressful. Its normal because you are trying to use a new system and change behaviors. New systems take a little bit to work out the kinks. Just don’t give up! Allow yourself some mistakes, brush them off, and keep on trying. It will get MUCH easier as it goes along, I promise. Follow these steps to get started:
- Figure out what you have been spending on. You can’t start a budget or cash envelope system without already seeing where your money is going. Track it all. Every penny you spend! Write down and keep track of it. Then you’ll see where you can cut certain expenses. Are you spending too much on food? Could you cut back and eat some frugal meals instead? There are endless possibilities on where you can cut back and repurpose your money. For me, it was scary to see how much I spent at the local coffee shop each month – REALLY scary!
- Plan your budget. If you haven’t done so already, plan how much you think you should spend in each category. You need to figure out how much money to reserve for each. Write everything out in black and white so you can see every detail. Label each reason for your spending, whether it’s on food, entertainment, insurance, and so on. Writing it out is key as you’re much more likely to follow it.
- Decide how long your budget goes for. Are you planning to budget weekly since you get paid weekly? Or is it easier for you to plan out the entire month? Not only do you need to think about when money is going out, but also when it’s coming in.
- Get it all into categories. After you have planned a budget and you know what you have been spending money on, it’s time to categorize it. Once you have your categories figured out, label the envelopes from these templates, place your allotted money in each envelope and start managing it.
Helpful Tip: If you want to read more about the envelope budgeting system, check out Dave Ramsey’s article. It helped me a lot!
What Categories Should I Use For Cash Envelopes?
The easy answer is that it depends. The better answer is that you should categorize spending based on your needs and spending habits. So there are no wrong answers. You want what’s best for you and your family. Here are some basic ideas of categories we use:
- Monthly Expenses – Reserve funds for all of your regular expenses like vehicle payments, mortgage, utility bills, and so on. Those are the most important to get out of the way before you stuff the envelopes.
- Emergency Fund – The second thing you need to set money back for is your emergency fund. This doesn’t need to go in an envelope, but if you use it as a temporary holding, that’s great. Ultimately, it should find its way to the bank.
- Food – Odds are you will be spending a fair amount of money in this category. Put the amount of your budget in that envelope and shop accordingly. Buy things on sale, make pasta and other homemade food, to stretch your money as far as you can.
- Hair & Beauty – If you get your hair and nails done, and plan to keep it in the budget, make sure to have a category for it.
- Entertainment – This could be anything from hitting an amusement park, going to the movies, or going to the mall and splurging at the food court.
- Gas & Car Maintenance – Yes, you will need to set aside money for gas. It’s expensive, and you need to have an envelope to track how much you can spend. Plus, you will need to maintain your vehicle too.
- Clothing & Shoes – You don’t have to spend a lot on clothing, but someone is always going to need something. A new shirt for a band concert, basketball shoes, the list goes on.
- Dining Out – You will have nights when you don’t have time to cook. So allow yourself some money to grab some food or dine with friends. You need to be able to have a little fun every once in a while.
- Misc. – Having a miscellaneous category is nice because if you need to use the money on something unexpected, it’s right there for you.
These are just a few ideas, but you can seriously choose any category that fits your needs. Try it out and see what works for you. Once you have a system in place, you are going to feel so much better about money!
How to Make the Cash Envelopes
- Printed Cash Envelope Template Printed on 8.5×11” Paper (download links at the bottom of post)
- A ruler or something rigid to bend the paper against (A tabletop edge would work well too)
- Scissors or a paper cutter
- Tape to secure the flaps
- Use a light cardstock for extra durability but nothing too heavy – the one I used was a bit too heavy for this project. You can use regular printer paper, but they won’t be as sturdy.
- Print at 100% to ensure that the template will be large enough to accomodate cash.
Start by cutting along the border of the cash envelope template. I’ve labeled this picture with sections to make it easier to follow along with which section to fold and when.
Pre-fold the template at the horizontal lines. Place a ruler at the line and gently push the paper up against the ruler. Do this for all horizontal lines.
Lay the envelope flat on a table so the design is facing you, then fold section four (the bottom section) underneath section three (the middle section).
Fold section three underneath section two.
Fold section one behind section two (the label area is at the front). You’ll see an overhang of section four (with the design facing you) behind section two.
Roll a small piece of tape so the ends touch to create the double-sided tape. Cut the tape in half lengthwise (you should have two skinny pieces… you’ll use one for each flap). Place a piece of tape at the center of each flap (sections five), then fold back (onto section three) and press firmly so the tape adheres.
And now, all that’s left to do is label your cash envelope! You can just handwrite the labels like I did or upload the template into a photo editor like PicMonkey to create a custom label with a pretty font. The cash will peek out slightly but is protected by the overhang on the back. I wanted to be able to easily see the cash inside without having to reach in for it completely, so that’s why I designed the template with a lip at the back.
I created two templates … a modern one with black dots and a softer design with branches and leaves as well.
To download, just click the link below and right-click to save the image to your computer. Be sure to print at 100% rather than having the printer “size to fit.”
Cash Envelope Template Download:
I’ve tried them in three wallets that I own and the envelopes fit in all of them, but are a bit snug in one wallet. As long as your wallet has a bit of extra room on the side of your cash, it’ll most likely fit in pretty easily. Hope you enjoy them! Please let me know if you try them and tag me on Instagram so I can see yours in use!