Logically, this method of budgeting makes a lot of sense and works for a lot of people. Actually, from what I read on the frugal blogosphere, it seems that the majority follows this method (please correct me if I am wrong!).
However, what I want to tell you today is that the cash envelope system does NOT work for me personally. It does make me feel like an oddity, but I’m fairly used to that; as if being a 5’10” female doesn’t make me stick out enough, then I have this Messianic Jewish thing going on too. So let’s just add this one to the list of my quirks!
I find that when I have cash anywhere around me, it always has this sneaky way of finding itself in someone else’s pocket very quickly. I know, I know…I need more self-control. That’s why this frugal lifestyle and couponing has done wonders for me. But, honestly, I have found that I have to do what works for me, which is not the cash envelope system.
What does work for me is using a credit card for all my purchases and then, and this is MUCHO IMPORTANT, paying it off at the end of the month. I can see how dangerous this is, but we really do pay it off EVERY month. I know all the financial statistics about how terrible and bad credit cards are, but really this is what works for my family.
Here’s the factor that makes this system work for us: accountability, which is a powerful and wonderful part of marriage. I know that when that credit card bill becomes available, my husband will see every penny that I spent. And where. And when. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? I’m not being sarcastic; I really do love it.
But the key is that this is what works for US. It might not work for you in your situation. The important thing about frugality/budgeting is that you have to know what works for you and then do it.
So my three criteria, in order of importance, for any budgeting strategy are these:
1) The Bible. Does your budget include a portion for charity/others in a way that glorifies God? To be honest, I’m not a big fan of using the word “tithing” (another quirk) because the tithe related to the temple. However, that being said, I still think that the same principle applies today that a “firstfruits” of what we have should be shared with those in need.
2) Your authority. Does your husband or parent (or whoever your authority figure is) approve? Maybe you don’t like that word authority. In our society, that word most of the time has a bad connotation. Even if you don’t like it, it’s always good to run your budget by someone that is knowledgeable in this area.
3) What works for you. No matter what everyone else is doing…you have to do what makes your particular situation work. And mine is not cash envelopes, no matter how much they make sense.
There’s my Frugal Friday tip for the day. See more great ideas at Biblical Womanhood.