2 Reasons Why I Don’t Carry Cash Envelopes

cash envelopesIf living on a budget is new to you and you are just getting started reigning in your spending, one of the first suggestions of many personal finance gurus is switching to cash only for spending.

They recommend not carrying any credit or debit cards in your wallet or purse, nor any other forms of payment except your envelopes full of cash. The reason being that is is more difficult to blow your budget when you only have cash.

While I understand their logic, it is harder to spend money if you have none with you, I am not a fan of the cash envelopes system they suggest for several reasons.


One of the first reasons I was not comfortable with the cash envelopes system when I tried it out was that I didn’t feel safe or secure carrying around large amounts of cash in envelopes in my purse. I do keep my purse on my person 99% of the time, but even then I always worried what would happen if someone snatched my purse or found my envelopes during the 1% of the time I didn’t have it right there with me.

As if that weren’t enough, I had an envelope spill all over the floor in the middle of the grocery store once. This was not a great feeling when I had to crawl around picking up all of my paper bills and coins so I could finish paying for my food.


While living on a budget and tracking every penny you spend is not the most convenient thing by definition, I thought it was even harder to do my monthly accounting when I was using envelopes full of cash.

For one thing I didn’t have or take the time to write down all of my transactions on the envelopes. For another, I did occasionally find myself having to borrow from one of my cash envelopes to fund another when it fell short. Finally, even though I hated walked around with tons of cash, I never found a good alternative.

One possible solution to carrying around a lot of cash is to only take out part of it from the ATM at one time. Taking out only part of the cash you need for the month could be one alternative if you work or live near your bank’s ATM so you can take out more cash easily, or if your bank reimburses you for using out-of-network ATMS. Personally I found making multiple trips to the ATM throughout the month to be a hassle in my already busy schedule, so it was not a good solution for me.

Another suggestion to help you avoid carrying a lot of cash is to leave part of it at home. This would work well if you never forget to bring the right envelopes or the right amount of cash with you when you go shopping, but life never worked out quite like that for me. Once in a while I forgot to bring the envelopes altogether and then I was glad I never stopped carrying my debit card in my purse.

Possible Solutions

If you still like the idea of using a cash budget to help you control your spending, there are a couple of alternatives that may help you solve some of the issues I mentioned above:

  • Use a partial cash budget – You could decide to use cash for areas where you have a tendency to overspend. For me this would include shopping and entertainment.
  • Use budgeting programs or software¬†– Budgeting software or programs, like Budget Ease, allow you to track all of your spending no matter if it was with cash, debit, or credit. The program can also analyze your transaction history and provide a future projection for your cash flow.

Do you use cash envelopes to control your spending? Why or why not.


2 comments on “2 Reasons Why I Don’t Carry Cash Envelopes

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