The cash envelope system is the perfect option for people who want to save money and easily track their spending. But how do you make it work with a spouse?
When I first started using the cash envelope system, I was in my 20s and single. I didn’t need to worry about anyone else using my cash or accidentally forgetting a cash envelope. Basically, I had all the control over my finances and envelopes.
But once you’re married and have a spouse or partner, the cash envelope system becomes a little more complicated. Instead of one person having all the control, you have to find a system to make cash envelopes work for both of you.
If the idea of sharing cash envelopes with your significant other is stressing you out, don’t worry! You can make this work! Below is everything you need to know to make the cash envelope system work with your spouse.
Create Your Budget As A Team
If you want to make budgeting work with your spouse, then you have to work together as a team. This means you’ll want to choose a time (about 5 days before payday) to sit down and create a budget together. If you don’t know where to start when it comes to writing a budget, don’t worry. I’ve got you covered! Check out my article on The Easiest Way To Write A Budget.
Once you’ve created your budget for the upcoming payday, you’ll need to decide which categories you’ll want to spend in cash. Not every category lends itself to using cash envelopes. For example, you probably don’t want to use cash to pay your electricity bill or water bill. When you work on filling out your budget page, I recommend adding an asterisk to each category of your budget that you’ll pull out in cash.
Below are a few categories that you might want to pull out in cash:
- Fun Money or Allowance (each spouse can have their own envelope for this)
- Car Maintenance
On payday, head to the bank and pull out cash for your envelopes.
Quick tip: be sure to write down exactly which denominations you want. This will make filling your envelopes much easier! Enjoy stuffing your cash envelopes with your spouse.
Choose How You Will “Share Cash Envelopes”
The hardest part about following the cash envelope system with a spouse is that you have to “share” the cash envelopes. If you’re not together all the time, how do you make this work? Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be as complicated as you might think!
As you are thinking about cash envelopes, determine which categories you’ll only need one envelope for and which categories you’ll want to split down the middle. For instance, you likely only need one cash envelope for car maintenance, but you might want two envelopes for Fun Money.
When it comes to determining how many envelopes you’ll need for each category, you’ll want to choose the primary spender for each category. You will also need to discuss how to share one cash envelope between two people.
Determine The Primary Spender For Each Category
Chances are you and your spouse split the spending for different categories in your budget. For instance, in our family, I’m the one that tends to do the grocery shopping. Because I work from home, it’s easier for me to run to the grocery store during the day. I don’t usually ask my husband to run by the grocery store on his way home from work. Since I’m typically the one that does the grocery shopping, we only have one cash envelope for grocery shopping that we keep at home. When I need to run to the grocery store, I grab it before I leave the house.
If one of you is the primary spender for a certain budget category, then that person might want to be “in charge” of that cash envelope. I’m the one that keeps track of how much money we have left in our grocery envelope. I’m also the person that plans out our meals and makes sure that we are on budget when it comes to our grocery spending.
How To Share One Cash Envelope Between Two People
If there’s a category in your budget where both of you are primary spenders (such as restaurants), then you can always split that cash envelope in half. Instead of using one envelope for that category, simply create two restaurant envelopes. Each person has their own envelope and can use it as they wish.
This allows you both to have control over the cash envelope and keep track of how much is being used in that category. It’s also perfect for couples that are “on the go.” You don’t have to worry about going back home to pick up a cash envelope. Instead, each person has the envelope with them at all times! This will ultimately help you stay on budget and work together as a team.
Give Each Spouse An Allowance
One of the easiest ways to make cash envelopes work with your spouse is to give each person a spending allowance. This might look different for each couple. The ultimate goal is to determine how this will work for you and your spouse!
A spending allowance is perfect for several reasons.
- It gives each person in the relationship money that is just for them. It doesn’t matter what they want to spend it on. As long as there is enough money in the envelope, they can spend it on whatever they want! Essentially, each partner is given the freedom to spend money without feeling like they have to “check in” with the other person.
- You’ll fight less about money. Have you ever logged into your online bank account and immediately saw something your spouse bought that you didn’t discuss? Maybe they went overboard and ordered something online or ended up shopping impulsively in the store. I bet you felt frustrated, out of the loop, and stressed. In many relationships, these types of situations lead to arguments. When each spouse has an allowance (in cash), these arguments happen less. Each person is able to spend money on what they want, and the best part is that it was in the budget!
- An allowance teaches each spouse patience. I personally learned how to become a more patient spender when I was given a cash allowance. If I wanted something expensive, I learned how to save up my allowance to buy that item guilt-free. So many people don’t know how to save for items. You and your spouse might be one of them! By giving each spouse a spending allowance in the budget, you can both work on patience when it comes to buying what you want.
Not all spending allowances are created equal!
Just because you have a spending allowance for two people doesn’t mean that they have to be the same amount. For instance, my husband is a saver and I’m a spender. I love spending money. But him? He can’t stand it. That’s why I tend to have a higher spending allowance than him. This allows me to still spend money, but within the budget that we set. It doesn’t bother him that he has less to spend. In fact, he loves it! Just remember that not all spending allowances have to be the same.
Set Weekly Check-In Meetings
So you’ve taken time to budget with your spouse and you’ve started using cash envelopes. Now what? It doesn’t do you any good to do all those things and then never check in on the progress that you’re both making.
Chances are you know how many days you have left before you pull out cash again. This means that you need to set up weekly check-in meetings where you count how much money you have left in each cash envelope. Have an honest conversation about how you’re doing.
Ask yourself (and your spouse) these 3 questions:
- Have we gotten off track anywhere? If so, what caused us to get off track with our spending?
- Where are we on track?
- What changes do we need to make next payday to ensure that we are successful with cash envelopes?
Choose a time each week for you to answer these 3 questions. I recommend Sunday nights after dinner. Worried about your children hearing these conversations? Don’t be! They need to hear and see how people communicate effectively about money and budgets. Allow your children to listen in!
Tips To Make Cash Envelopes Work
Cash envelopes can truly help you reach your money goals! But they can also be a little overwhelming when you’re just getting started. Throw in another person and they seem even more complicated! Here are 3 tips to help you make cash envelopes work for you AND your spouse.
- Communicate each day. Have a quick conversation each day about money. This can be as simple as “I’m headed to the grocery store and I’m taking the cash envelope. I’ll let you know how much I spent when I get home.” The goal is for both people to feel involved and in the know about the finances…especially if you have a joint checking account!
- Check in with your cash envelopes. As you’re spending money from your envelopes, be sure to count how much money you have left, This will give you insight into how you can be using this money before the next payday. For instance, let’s say you have $200 left in your grocery envelope and 2 weeks left until you refill your cash envelopes. You now know that you need to spend about $100 each week on groceries. This insight will help you stay on budget at the grocery store!
- Give yourself TIME to get used to the cash envelope system. Just like any new system, using cash envelopes will take time! Although you might see the benefits of using cash envelopes right away, it will probably take time to become comfortable using cash (especially with a spouse). Don’t give up on cash envelopes right away. Instead, try using them for 3 months. Then, decide if you want to continue using cash in your budget.
Ready To Get Started?
Overall, using cash envelopes can save you money and help you and your spouse spend less on the areas of your budget where you tend to overspend. They can help you take back control of your impulse spending and help you make amazing progress on your financial journey!
Ready to get started with the cash envelope system? Sign up to get my FREE Cash Envelope Guide. This is where you will receive even more information on how to make cash envelopes work for you. This guide also comes with FREE printable cash envelopes so that you can get started today!