:::: MENU ::::

Modified Money Envelope System


Well the month is almost over and I wanted to report on how my modified money envelope system has gone.

Remember, I decided to do a modified money envelope with only 2 categories: groceries and eating out. Instead of a traditional envelope I used the two compartments in my wallet and designated one for each of these purposes.

How did it go?

Well, as with anything new, I think there were a bit of some growing pains.


There’s really only one. Because the money was stored in my regular wallet (instead of a big, bulky envelope), at the beginning of the month I would sometimes forget it was there! Twice I went to the grocery store and paid with a debit card out of habit, then got out to the parking lot and face-palmed over not using my cash!! This was frustrating and annoying to try to reconcile with the cash I had on hand (by subtracting odd dollar amounts when I didn’t have correct change, etc.). Just a bit of a learning curve as I tried to re-learn to use CASH ONLY instead of debit.


I really, really paid attention to that money dwindling! These are categories that I usually go over on and this month I basically told myself that this cash was all I have in the world (even though we obviously have more money in the bank). So when the money started running low I had to get creative with making meals at home and using ingredients we had on hand. Instead of just putting it on debit and worrying about how I’d gone over budget later, I was forced to really work with ONLY the cash that I had allotted to these categories, no more.

Overall, I think the system worked great! After learning to spend my cash instead of automatically defaulting to debit, I didn’t have any problems. I’m definitely going to keep it up next month.

One potentially negative in terms of my grocery budget……I don’t know how but last month and this month I’ve run out of money well before the month was over. In both cases I’ve been forced to eat out of our freezer and pantry. That’s all well and good and helped me from going over our grocery budget. BUT, our freezer and pantry are both looking pretty darn bare right now. Our freezer, in particular, has rarely been so low on food! I’m hoping that with Thanksgiving next month I’ll be able to stock up on a lot of sale-priced meat (turkey is at a once-a-year low in November); and on the bright side of things, I have the room in my freezer to spare fore stocking up on some meat and other freezable food. However, I’m going to have to get crafty on how to stock up since I still don’t want to increase my grocery budget. That will be a challenge for next month. Fun times!



  • Reply Mary |

    Good job Ashley! Those are the two categories I tend to over as well so I’ve been using cash for my groceries and I’ve cut way back on the fast food. I am finding however that the real issue for grocery shopping is the rising cost of food. Prices are crazy here as I am sure they are in the rest of the country. I know in my area, just one item like butter has gone from $2.50-$2.99 to $4.49 for one pound of butter! I used to be able to get it sometimes for two for $$5.00. Now it’s $4.49-$4.79 and that’s just one item! Organic milk went from $5.79/gallon to $6.79 a gallon. I typically spend $100 a week for my family and I would divide my grocery bill into categories ($20 organic/nonorganic produce, $20 (organic beef, organic chicken), $25-mostly organic dairy (org milk, org eggs, kefir, butter, etc), $25 general grocery, 10-non-food items and I am blowing out the categories….my produce category alone is up to $40 on most weeks so I am finding that despite cutting back as much as I can, the grocery prices are up and it’s affecting every category. My bill is coming out to around $114/week. I know because I’ve analyzed my grocery receipts and I know what the prices are. I remember once this summer broccoli went to $3.99/pound and I almost had a heart attack! Luckily, it’s back down to $1.99/pound but still….it used to be much cheaper. I typically buy just what I need for a week and eat pretty fresh so I don’t keep much in terms of pantry type items. If this keeps up, my cat will have to get a job to cover his cat food, lol.

    • Reply Ashley |

      This is so true! I’ve noticed a gradual increase in prices across time and although I can still sometimes find great deals they tend to be fewer and further in-between than in the past.

  • Reply hannah |

    Yes, this is a great time of year for freezing turkeys, ham, butter, and of course pantry items like baking staples and canned goods.
    However, when you’re buying turkey, don’t forget about the after Christmas clearance prices. Last year I bought all my turkeys(mainly turkey breast) late December/early January when they were .79-.99 a pound clearanced out. We’ve been eating turkey all year whenever we want!

  • Reply V |

    I would look at your grocery receipts and figure out what items are breaking the bank, then see if you can substitute. I also highly recommend budgetbytes.com as she has a ton of variety in recipes that are quite delicious and healthy without being expensive.

    In terms of the debit card, would it be possible to keep in in the car’s glove box or in a separate zipper/wallet in the purse so you have it in case of an emergency, but can’t whip it out without thinking about it? If you don’t store it where you normally do, then your brain will pause when you go to take it out and it isn’t there and that can cause you to remember that you should be using cash.

So, what do you think ?