Envelope system

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The envelope system, also known as the envelope method, is a popular method for visualizing and maintaining a budget. The key idea is to store the cash to meet separate categories of household expenses in physically separate envelopes.[1][2]


Typically, the person will write the name and average cost per month of a bill on the front of an envelope. Then, either once a month or when the person gets paid, they will put the amount for that bill in cash in the envelope. When the bill is due, the money is taken out to pay for that bill.

This prevents the person from spending the money out of their pocket or bank account, because it is already allocated to the bill.

This is a budgeting mechanism often suggested to people by Dave Ramsey.[3][4]


There are multiple software products that offer help and automation with envelope budgeting, such as You Need a Budget.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Envelope System Zero Based Money Management Budget".
  2. ^ "The Envelope Method". Archived from the original on 2008-10-11.
  3. ^ Ramsey, Dave (2003). The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc. p. 5. 0-7852-6326-8.
  4. ^ Dave Ramsey Web Services, Money, Budgeting and Debt Counseling. "Dave Ramsey's Envelope System". daveramsey.com.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)