My free printable cash envelope template is the perfect way to track your variable spending and manage your budget this month. Learn how to use cash envelopes and grab the free printable money envelopes template now!
Sticking to a budget can be extremely difficult.
Setting a monthly spending limit for things like coffee runs or new clothes is great… but how often do you actually stick to those budget limits that you set for yourself?
What do you do when Starbucks sends you an awesome “Bonus Stars” offer but you’ve already used up your coffee money for the month? Or what happens when you’re at the mall and you see a super cute shirt on sale for 80% off but your allotted money for clothing purchases for the month is already gone?
Do you just whip out your credit card anyway? To heck with the budget… this deal is just too good to pass up!
If that sounds all too familiar, then the cash envelope budgeting system may be just the thing you need to stay on track with your variable spending. And I’ve got some awesome free printable cash envelopes to help you get started!
Cash envelope templates make it easy to start using a money envelope budget system. Once you figure out how much money you can spend on different things like groceries, clothing, and entertainment each month, you can use a cash envelope template to make sure you don’t go over your spending limits.
Want to see how the cash envelope system works and try it out for yourself?
Read on to see how to get started with this budgeting system, how to make your own cash envelopes, and how to use a cash tracker on each envelope to make this system work for you! And grab my free printable money envelope PDF to try it out for yourself!
The cash envelope budgeting system is an easy way to limit your spending on certain variable expenses each month.
In its simplest form, the money envelope system involves putting cash into envelopes that are labeled with spending categories like “Groceries”, “Clothing”, or “Coffee Money”. As you spend money in those categories during the month, you use the cash in the corresponding envelope. When the cash is gone, you can’t spend anymore money on that budget category until the next month.
Sticking to a budget can be more difficult when using a credit or debit card for purchases. But using cash makes your money tangible again. When you can see the cash in each envelope, it’s easier to see just how much is left and make good decisions about what you spend.
What NOT to Include in Your Cash Envelopes
A money envelope budgeting system isn’t right for ALL of your expenses. Certain fixed or recurring monthly bills like your mortgage, car payment, or utilities bills are non-negotiable, meaning you need to pay them whether you have money left in a cash envelope or not.
Instead, just use money envelopes for variable expenses, or non-recurring expenses that change every month like the cost of eating out at restaurants or going to see a movie.
If you want to keep track of your actual monthly bills, however, I’ve got an awesome free printable for that! Head to this post and grab a Free Bill Tracker Printable… I’ve got 6 different monthly bill trackers for you to choose from!
How to Start the Cash Envelope System
The cash envelope system is really pretty easy.
First, you figure out what budget categories you need to have based on your spending habits. Then you determine how much money you want to allot to each category for the month. Then, on the first of the month, you fill a money envelope template for each category with the cash that you can spend for the month.
For instance, if you budget $100 per month for entertainment expenses (like going out to the movies or visiting local festivals), then you would note your allowed entertainment budget on the front of one envelope and put $100 cash inside. Then, use the cash in that envelope to pay for entertainment related expenses throughout the month. When the $100 is gone, you can’t spend anymore money on entertainment for the month.
Here are more detailed steps to setting up a cash envelope budgeting system that works for you using the free printable cash envelope templates that I have for you at the end of this post:
Step 1: Download and print the free cash envelope templates and budget worksheet.
You can download the free printable money envelope PDF at the end of this post.
Then, I recommend printing the cash envelopes on a heavier weight printer paper like a 32 lb. paper. This paper is a bit thicker and sturdier than standard 20 lb. copy paper, but not as heavy as card stock. I think it gives a much nicer look to colored printables, and it’s less prone to wrinkling… great since your envelopes will need to last all month!
I’ve also included a smaller cash envelope template if you want smaller money envelopes to keep in your purse. For these templates, you’ll need to fold your cash to be able to fit it in the envelope.
Step 2: Set realistic goals for your spending.
Before you begin using the free printable cash envelope template, you’ll need to figure out what your monthly budget is for each category. I’ve included printable budget sheets you can use to figure it all out in this money envelope PDF.
It may also be helpful for you to track your finances for a few months prior to starting with the cash envelope templates. That way you have realistic expectations about your spending goals. For instance, if you find that you typically spend $400 per month on eating out at restaurants, then you may not want to set your restaurant budget at $700 per month… You’ll be more prone to spend the overage because it’s in your cash envelope.
I give you some awesome tips for how to track your income and expenses here… These tips have helped me to manage every single penny of my family’s finances for the last decade!
And you can check out the Money Tracker Spreadsheet that I use everyday here! This easy to use spreadsheet allows me to see how I’m doing on my spending year to date AND month to date… and the spreadsheet does all of the calculations for me!
After you’ve made your game plan for using the cash envelope system and you’ve determined the appropriate amounts for each envelope, you’re ready to begin!
Step 3: Assemble the free printable cash envelopes.
Are you wondering how to make your own cash envelopes? Of course, you could use plain letter envelopes, but these are much cuter. Plus, the cash tracker on the front of each vertical envelope makes it easy to keep track of spending.
My free printable cash envelopes are easy to assemble too. Here’s what you’ll need to get started: scissors, glue or tape, and the printed cash envelope template.
Follow these 4 simple steps to assemble the cash envelopes this month:
- Use scissors to cut out the cash envelope template.
- Fold the envelope along the dotted lines. Fold the two shorter end flaps first (the ones that are at the top and bottom of the vertical envelope). Then fold the longer flap piece (the envelope back) next so that it overlaps the two shorter side pieces.
- Finally, use glue or tape to glue the sides in place. I used a glue stick to apply glue to the two shorter side flaps. Then, I pressed the larger envelope back piece into the glue on the side flaps.
- Fold the top flap piece down, but don’t apply glue. This flap can be folded into the opening so that it stays shut and you can still take your cash out of the envelope.
Step 4: Label each cash envelope template and put money inside.
My free printable cash envelope templates have space to record the month, the category name, and the total budget right on the front of the money envelope.
Print one envelope for each money envelope category that you need. Then, fill in the information at the top of the envelope and put the appropriate amount of cash inside.
Then, you’re ready to start using the cash envelope system!
Step 5: Fill in the cash tracker on the money envelope template as you spend money.
One of my favorite things about these free printable cash envelope templates is the cash tracker on the front of each envelope. It’s perfect for tracking where all the money is going each month. You can use the information on the cash tracker to help you plan next month’s budget too.
Each time you take cash from an envelope, you should record this information:
- the date
- a brief description of the money spent – Like for your clothing envelope, you can write “Winter Coat” or something similar.
- the amount you spent
- the remaining balance in the envelope – So if you start with $200 in your envelope and you spend $48.13, you would write $151.87 in the balance column to know how much you have left in the envelope.
Then you can use the information to keep track of where your money is going. Want to know how much money you spent at the coffee shop? Now, you’ll be able to see what your latte costs are each month.
Cash Envelope System Categories
Determining which cash envelope system categories you need in your budget can be difficult, especially if you’re not used to tracking your spending. So here are some examples of money envelope categories that you may need to include:
- Restaurants – You can even get more specific and do one category for coffee and one for other restaurant meals.
- Clothing and Shoes
- Home Decor
- Miscellaneous Household Expenses – These could include things like air filters, batteries, etc.
- Entertainment – Including fun activities like going to play putt-putt or going to the movies.
- Gifts – Like birthday party gifts for your kids’ friends or a “Thinking of You” gift for your best friend.
- Pet Supplies
- Kids’ Expenses – Things like school supplies and new books or games could be included in this cash envelope category.
- Personal Care – Like manicures, hair cuts, spray tans, make-up, toiletries, etc.
Free Printable Cash Envelope Template and Budget Worksheet PDF
Want to grab my free printable cash envelope template to start your own money envelopes this month? Just click the link below to download the money envelope template PDF and the budget worksheet to get started!
Start with the Cash Envelope Template Today!
Now you’re ready to begin using your cash envelope budgeting system to manage your budget and stay on track this month. Don’t be afraid to dive right in and make changes as you go. Use this cash envelope template to get you started, then adapt the system to work for your family.
Or, if you find that the cash envelopes don’t work well for your needs, then you can also try a digital envelope system to help manage your spending.
Which budgeting system do you use to stay on top of variable spending? Have you tried the cash envelope system or money envelope templates? What do you love (or hate) about it?
I’d love to read about your journey in the comments, so don’t forget to share how these cash envelopes are working out for you. And don’t forget to PIN this post for later: