I used Dave Ramsey’s envelope spending system for about one week – clearly not a success for me! In theory the system sounds great. Set aside the cash you need for a week into envelopes. $X for groceries, $x for entertainment, $x for gas. That part was easy enough until reality set in. An extra child to feed for dinner. A longer car trip than usual. Forced to order take out instead of cook. In reality, it was just another way to feel guilty about my spending and life. It didn’t work for me.
I think that credit card debt is such a big problem for so many people that anything that chips away at it is a good thing.
The envelope system wouldn’t work for me, and it would never work for my husband. He never has cash. We have joint accounts, so any system we use has to work for both of us.
I’ve found having a weekly spending target helps me manage our spending. I don’t worry about how much I’ve spent down to the penny, but I do have different targets for each week. For instance, we don’t eat out during weeks that we have a lot of money going out for the mortgage or other payments. I’ve also gotten better at planning for annual expenses – association fees, car registration, etc. That helps me manage the cash flow to avoid debts without having to count expenses down to the pennies.