I started using the Dave Ramsey’s cash envelope system for budgeting recently, and it’s a game changer!

I love anything that makes life a little simpler, and cash envelopes make budgeting SO easy.

*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. Read our full disclosure policy here.

If you aren’t familiar with this system, here’s how it works:

  1. Create a budget.  Need some help?  Check out our budgeting bundle which walks you through exactly how to set up a budget!
  2. Choose your cash envelope categories.  These will be expenses that are variable.  For example, you don’t want to include your mortgage, cell phone payment, or any other fixed bills that are probably automatically withdrawn from your checking account anyway.
  3. Once you’ve selected your categories, get some envelopes and label them.
  4. Put cash (enough for one month) in the envelopes for each category.
  5. Once you run out of cash in a particular envelope, you’re done with spending on that category for the month!
  6. Decide what to do with any cash leftover in your envelopes at the end of the month (you might put this into savings, use it to pay off debt, or spend it on something fun…whatever you choose!)

This list will give you 50 ideas for your cash envelope categories.  But, obviously, you don’t want to have 50 separate envelopes…that would be a big mess!

I’d recommend using 5-15 envelopes to keep it simple.

I personally use six envelopes (purchased from the Etsy shop greatbynate).  Mine are:

  • Fast food
  • Groceries
  • Household items (medical, toiletries, paper products, cleaning, etc.)
  • Date night
  • Outings with friends
  • Fun spending money

cash envelope system budgeting

I’m giving you a list of 50 so you can get plenty of ideas for your own envelopes because there are a ton of different options!

How specific (or broad) your categories are is totally up to you.  Do whatever makes the most for your situation.  If you buy Starbucks every day, for example, it might make sense to have a “coffee” envelope.

I buy Starbucks only occasionally, so I take Starbucks purchases from my “fast food” envelope.  This works for me.  Do what works for you!

Here are 50 ideas for your cash envelopes!

  1. Food
  2. Groceries
  3. Restaurants
  4. Food at work
  5. Entertainment
  6. Sports
  7. Movies
  8. Outings with friends
  9. Outings with family
  10. Date nights
  11. Starbucks
  12. Alcohol
  13. Pet stuff
  14. Kid stuff
  15. Kids’ allowance
  16. Kids’ toys
  17. Kids’ clothes
  18. Happy hours
  19. Books
  20. Shoes
  21. Accessories
  22. Gardening items
  23. Yard maintenance
  24. Car maintenance
  25. Household items
  26. Cleaning products
  27. Tools
  28. Home Depot
  29. Spouse 1 – spending
  30. Spouse 2 – spending
  31. Hobbies
  32. Craft supplies
  33. Organizing supplies <<—- maybe I need to add an envelope for this one ;)
  34. Home decor
  35. Clothes
  36. Beauty
  37. Toiletries
  38. Massages
  39. Salon
  40. Road trip
  41. Projects
  42. Travel
  43. Technology
  44. Blow
  45. Photography
  46. Fun
  47. Replacement items
  48. Gifts
  49. Giving
  50. Miscellaneous

In which categories do you typically overspend?