Sunday, April 26, 2015

Simple and Cute Cash Envelopes - Free Pattern and Instructions

Nearly a year and a half ago my husband and I committed to a cash envelope system and we are so happy we did! I like spending money and my husband does not.  Before the envelope system, he would keep tabs on the bank balance while I went around my domestic duties: buying groceries, keeping up the household, and clothing shopping for our two growing children.  I was an expert at using coupons, shopping clearance and finding rock bottom deals. What I was not good at was keeping track of my spending.  Matt would tell me when we were nearing "broke" for the month. AHHHH!  I would be frustrated with myself for over spending, and filled with buyers remorse over all the fab deals I scored.  It would frustrate him that I couldn't stick to our budget when using the debit card.  I have the same problem with calories, I consume more than I should unless I keep track of them.
We had read The The Total Money Makeover and were applying a few of his principles, but hadn't tried the cash envelopes.  After several months of going over budget, we decided that we had to use the cash system to stay on track.  Paying down debt was important to us and not overspending was crucial.  We evaluated our spending, set realistic goals, and recalculated our monthly budget.
We now utilize the cash envelope system and online bill pay to keep our budget in check.  We try to use a Zero Balance budget meaning our income-bills-expenses=0.  Matt pays bills like the mortgage, utilities, and phone online.  We take out $600 in cash every month: $400 for grocery/dining out, $100 for household, $50 for clothing, and $50 for misc. spending.  We use our debit card for gas mainly because pay at the pump is convenient, but still have set a budget and stick to it.  We usually are under budget for gas and that allows us to pay more towards what we owe.
It is a great feeling when you pay off credit cards and pay down debt.  Using cash envelopes has been a liberating experience.  At first I felt humbled when I would have to tell a friend that I couldn't go out to eat because it didn't fit into our budget, but most people understood.  It took a few months and some creative planing to be able to stretch our money through the month.  Matt and I usually go out to eat 2-3 time per month for date night and strive to spend $25 or less, including tip.  We often frequent a local Mexican restaurant and order from the a la cart menu. Ordering off the a la cart menu helps keep our bill and calorie intake low.  We never leave hungry.  We also eat well at home utilizing coupons and stocking up during sales.  My Milwaukee Mommy is a great resource for a coupon/ad match up. She also posts great online shopping deals.  If we purchase items online we remove the money from the envelope as if it were spent and redeposit it into the account.  This practice also applies to the Target Red Debit Card which we use because it saves us an extra 5% on our purchases at Target.  We have become very efficient with our cash system and have had a few months when there was surplus.  Clothing is the only envelope that we let accumulate, if there is a $20 surplus in household from March we only withdraw $580 for April. Then we apply the $20 March surplus to our efforts to pay down debt.  At first it can seem impossible, but with hard work and dedication, I promise it does get easier.

There are many tools to help you organize your cash system.

1. A Plastic File Folder

2. Dave Ramsey's Deluxe Executive Envelope System

3. The Trendy Savvycents

4. Crafty and Cute

The choices were a little overwhelming and I wanted a combination between Crafty and Trendy but didn't want to spend a lot of money.  So I decided to make my own and here is how:
Choose your fabrics and interface.  Cut two 7.25" squares of fabric and one square of iron on interface per envelope.

Fuse the interface to the back side of one fabric square.  This will stiffen your fabric so that it keeps its shape.

With the right sides together, sew around the edges using the edge of the presser foot as your guide, leaving an inch open for turning your envelope right side out,

Cut the corners off, do not cut the into the seem. Then turn your envelope right sides out.

Press your envelope with an iron tucking the open edge.

Sew a top stitch along the opening of your envelope.  Fold edges together and sew along the side being careful to tuck in the open edge. 

Press your final envelope.

I created labels for my first set of envelopes.  You can make them buy cutting 0.5" by 1.5" strips of fabric and sewing them on before your close your sides.  I have chosen to go with Avery No-Iron Clothing Labels this time.  I plan on making a matching wallet too!

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