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Adventures In Returning To The Envelope System





I first read about the envelope system back in college. I used it regularly, but after graduating and paying off my debt, I sort of abandoned it. I'd gotten a hold of my finances, and I figured I could budget safely without having to use this tactic. I could afford to give myself a break.

Then, last month, I realized just how much of a break I've given myself over the years, especially when it comes to food. Upon examining my expenses for the year, I complained to Brian:

“Hey, why am I always paying when we go out? I know it's the 21st century, but come on!”

“What are you talking about?” he argued. “I always pay!”

“Then why did I spend upwards of $400 this month?” I asked.

“I don't know, but so did I.”

“No,” I argued. “There's no way we spent a grand on food in just four weeks.”

Turns out, we did. We've been spending a ridiculous amount on food and groceries. And while it hasn't put us in the poor house, it's still a waste. It's a waste because there are things we want to save up for - a house, maybe. Who knows if that's what we'll want in a few years? But when we get there, it would be nice to know we have the option and didn't squander it on burgers and beer.

“We've got to start using the envelope system,” I declared.

“What's the envelope system?” Brian asked.

“We take a set amount of cash from our paychecks and stuff it an envelope,” I explained. “And that's the only money we can use on groceries and dining out.”

“I don't like it.”

Brian doesn't enjoy frugality as much as I do. For him, it's more of a means to an end. Still, he knew it was the right thing to do if we wanted to stop spending like maniacs.

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