Fudge-it or Budget

I wish I could claim to be so creative as to have come up with the title for this post, but it wasn’t me. My hubby, Ryan, was making jokes about non-budgeting methods of money managing (er, mismanaging?) and calling it “smudge-it” or “fudge-it” and I said “Hey, I like it! I’m using that!”. He only asked that I give credit where credit was due. 🙂

As I was pondering what works for me while driving to the grocery store to spend the last of my meager grocery budget money (I believe I came in at a little over a $1 under budget, but I need to count and make sure), I realized that one of the best things we do has to do with how we budget.

In the past 8 months or so, we have gone back once again (and I believe for good, this time!) to a simple little system that has served us so, so very well.

I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine.

This, ladies, is my Designer Envelope System, or rather my fancy-schmancy cash system wallet. Well, the orange and hot pink one, to be specific. Ryan has the plain old black one (not shown here).

This little beauty is what allows me to see at a glance how much money I have left in each of my spending categories. It gives me a place to store my receipts and write what I have spent and where. It stores my alloted cash amount for each category (ie. food and household, books and music, clothing, recreation, miscellaneous, etc.).

It is nothing less than an avenue for guiltless spending, careful stewardship, debt avoidance, and financial peace. Need I mention that I love my cash system?

If you have never used a cash system, I highly recommend that you consider it. Nothing has kept us more on track with our spending than doing this. Each time we receive our paycheque, my husband determines how much cash we need, gets it out of the bank, and divies it up into our respective designer envelopes.

We spend what we need to out of the set categories. We record what we have spent, when, and how much is left in that area of the budget. And when the cash runs out, our spending much screech to a halt. Occasionally, we transfer money from one area to another, if possible or necessary, but we only spend the cash that we have available.

No more embarrassing moments when the cashier loudly announces to the entire grocery store that my debit card says I have insufficient funds. No more shockingly high VISA bills. No more out of control spending.

If you are in need of help in getting your budget under control, I cannot give high enough praise for Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover and training materials. We are very indebted (lol, the only type of indebtedness that we will soon have!) to his teaching. It is practical, it is wise, and I believe it is Biblical.

If anyone is interested, I would be very happy to post more about how my husband runs our finances and budgeting, and the steps we have taken to become more financially stable. Leave a comment (or email me) and please ask any questions that you might have!

Edit: Since writing this post, I’ve written several others that are related or were a follow-up to this one: here are the links to read my posts on setting up a cash system, and a review of the budgeting system we use to manage our finances.

Similar Posts


  1. Cute! Love these, having something cute to do it in makes it a little more fun, right? Good post, I needed the reminder to try the envelope system.

  2. I’d be interested inhow you figure out what to allocate to each envelope. I tend to “collect” financial (and other self-help) information without implementing it. My biggest hurdle is figuring out what is reasonable for each rather than just identifying what we are spending on each.

  3. I love the cash system! What’s really great is that if you come in under budget, you have CASH IN HAND to show for it. I’m all about the instant gratification.

  4. I’m a big fan of the cash system. We did that when my husband had a regular salary. Now that his work is commission based we never know what his next check will look like, so putting together a new budget has been a nightmare.

  5. Reading this post is uncomfortably timely. I don’t want to do it. I know I should.

    I’m going to have to pray about this.

  6. Thanks for the comments!

    Marie and MomOnTheGo, I will try to address those issues (deciding on amounts, and working on a fluctuating budget) when I write more about this (soon, I hope!).

    And yes, cute is great, and yes, so is instant gratification! We love ending up with “mad money” as we call it!

  7. I have friends who swear by that system, and I KNOW we need to implement it in our home. If I start NOW hopefully we won’t go over spend for the holidays.

  8. Pieces, I just prayed for you. God is so gracious to give us courage to do the things we don’t want to do. 🙂

    Tickled pink, if nothing else, why don’t you set a budget for Christmas spending specifically and put that in an envelope or baggie, and it will be a great start to using the system, and will keep your holiday spending in check!

  9. You will be amazed at the peace you have once you are free from debt. Hubby and I decided several years ago to become debt free, and it took a looooong time, but we did it. The only thing we don’t own out-right is our house, but we have such a good interest rate that we’re ok with owing on it.
    We sleep so much better at night knowing there are no credit card bills, student loans, or anything like that hanging over our heads. Congratulations on your decision!

  10. I’m a big fan of Dave Ramsey, but I’m a little surprised to see him hawking $19.95 envelopes! While they’re supercute and may be the push someone needs to go all-cash, it somehow seems against his “gazelle intense” approach to getting debt free.

  11. We have read Total Money Make Over and are using reg. ol’ plain Jane envelopes for our system. I truly *love* the designer envelope system but have this nagging question about it . . . .
    Are you ever concerned about carrying around so much cash? I leave most of our envelopes at home and only carry the “bare necessities” our gas, grocery and misc. fund envelopes.
    What do you do?

  12. I’ve had the same concern as Amy W.

    I’ve also wondered–isn’t it a nuisance when checking out? For example, when you’re shopping at some place like Wal-Mart you might have groceries, clothing, household items all in one grocery cart. Do you then have the cashier ring it up as three separate transactions so that you can pay from three separate envelopes and in the meantime infuriate the people waiting in line behind you?

    Right now I use the mvelopes software, but I just got married a couple weeks ago and am trying to figure out how to go from managing my single person’s finances to managing a couple’s finances, so may be changing the tools that I use. However, now with the increased expenses and income, it makes me even more hesitant to walk around with everything in cash in envelopes.

  13. I totally agree with Robbie. What DO you do when you make a purchase involving more than one envelope? I’d really like feedback on this one, if possible.

  14. I totally agree with Robbie. What DO you do when you make a purchase involving more than one envelope? I’d really like feedback on this one, if possible.

  15. Thanks for your post! I’m wondering, though . . . where did you buy your designer systems? Daveramsey.com has a few, but they’re just not as pretty as yours. Plus, yours seem to be made better, with the snap-button closures and all.

    Please, please let me know where you got these!


  16. Sara, I’m so sorry to say that they must have gotten rid of both the orange/pink one that I have and the blue/black one. I just checked where we got ours from (which was Dave Ramsey) and looks like they don’t carry them anymore. 🙁 Hope you find something else you like instead!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *