These cheap and free DIY cash envelope systems can help you stick to your budget without spending a lot of money. Get started today with these easy envelope system organizers.
You are most likely thinking about using the cash envelope system to help you stick to your budget. You want to ensure you follow your budget so you can reach your financial goals.
But I’m betting you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a fancy wallet (at least to start with). These cheap DIY cash envelope system ideas will help you start using this life-changing budgeting system without a big initial investment.
Best DIY cash envelopes
1. Standard mailing envelopes
The easiest and probably the cheapest DIY cash envelope system is to use standard white mailing envelopes. You probably have a pack of 500 lying around somewhere collecting dust (or you can buy a big pack at the dollar store). Simply write the budget category on the front of the envelope, and stuff them with the appropriate amount of cash. You can also draw a spending log on the back of the envelope to help you keep track of what you’ve spent and how much money you have left over.
2. Free bank envelopes
When you get cash from the bank, the bank teller hands your money to you in a bank envelope. This envelope is specially made to stash cash (obviously), making it absolutely perfect for the cash envelope system. Head over to your local bank and ask for extra cash envelopes. This is a great, free solution to getting cash envelopes, with the added bonus that the envelopes will likely fit into your wallet (these envelopes are smaller than the standard white mailing envelopes).
3. The binder clip system
This clip system was popularized by Rachel Cruze when she designed and sold her specialty wallet. However, many die-hard cash envelope fans have been using the clip system for years.
Instead of using envelopes to hold your cash together, clip your cash together with small binder clips. For each budget category you want to have an “envelope” for, use a labeled binder clip (you can write the budget category on the top of the clip with a sharpie, or use a sticker).
The major benefit of this system is that you can likely continue to use your current wallet because the binder clips do not take up a lot of room. The binder clips are also very durable compared to paper envelopes which rip over time.
4. The paper clip system
The paper clip system is very similar to the binder clip system.
This system holds your cash together with paper clips. If you have five cash categories/”envelopes”, you will need five paper clips. With each category, you must also clip together a post-it note with the name of the category. If you use a big post-it note, you can also include a spending log with each cash category.
5. Index card dividers
Using dividers to separate your budget categories is a simple, quick, and relatively inexpensive solution to creating your own cash envelope system.
Index cards can be used as dividers. To make them look like the ordinary binder dividers you buy in the store, just cut off the tops of the index cards except for a small piece to write the budget category.
6. Plastic or poster dividers
You can also make dividers out of any other paper or material. You can cut dividers from a poster board or a plastic tab divider.
7. Accordion folder
If you want a super easy solution, buy a small accordion folder to store and organize your cash. The accordion folders usually come with at least five compartments as well as blank labels that will allow you to personalize your budget categories.
You can find these at any office supply store, at the grocery store, or my favorite (and the cheapest option), you can grab them at the dollar store!
Alternatively, you can cut out the dividers with tabs and place them into your wallet. This might be a more durable solution than the index cards mentioned above.
8. Create your own envelopes
You can find several envelope templates online. You can just print out several copies, fold the paper into an envelope, tape/glue the paper so it holds, and then label each envelope with your budget categories.
You can add your own twist by using colored paper or scrapbook paper.
9. DIY cash envelope wallet
If you have sewing skills, you can make your own fabric wallet. Here are some tutorials:
- Money envelopes using fabric scraps and Velcro
- Envelope wallet using fabric scraps, thick fabric, Velcro, large button, and string (this one might be stretching my DIY skills)
10. DIY cash envelope binder
Small binders, typically used for planners, can also be used for cash envelope wallets. Clear plastic pouches with binder holders can be purchased online to store your cash.
DIY or invest in budgeting envelopes?
When you are trying out a new way of doing things (in this case budgeting), you want to make it as easy and cheap as possible. You want to minimize roadblocks to maximize success. These cheap DIY ideas are great alternatives to cash envelope wallets.
What does your cash envelope system look like?