My Filofax Budget Envelope System

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Do you remember when I featured my guide to being on a budget? One of the things I explained was how to create an envelope system for your different spending categories so you can use cash only and track where every dollar goes. I've been using that system for years now and it has been working like a charm!

I find that every time I open my cash envelope system at a store, the cashier always tells me what a great idea it is and asks me how I did it. Thanks to all those compliments and questions, I decided to put together a post showing off how I made my envelope system. Enjoy!

Filofax Temperly Cash Envelope system

There are plastic coupon organizers that you can use as your wallet, but I, being the Filofax addict that I am, decided to purchase a personal size Filofax. I chose the Ikat Temperly. I love the color and I figure the more beautiful my wallet is, the more likely I am to use it and stick to my envelope system. If you can't get a Filofax you can just use the plastic coupon organizers/Mini Expanding files from Target, Walmart, etc.

You can find a Filofax Temperly
here and other zip up Filofaxes here.

You can find cheaper small expanding organizers
here and here.

You can find zip envelopes
here, here, and here.

Filofax temperly cash envelope system

The next thing I did was purchase clear zipper pouches from Day Runner (here). Any brand or type will work as long as they aren't too bulky. I like these because the zipper is simple and flat like on a ziploc bag.

Filofax temperly cash envelope system

I used a label maker to put a simple label on each envelope. My envelope categories are:

You can get creative and use washi tape too!

Filofax Temperly cash envelope system

In the back of my Filofax I keep a little note that has the amounts I should take out with each paycheck, and which envelope to put them in.

reward card organizer

Then I keep my little keychain rewards cards in a little plastic envelope that has a slot for each one. You can find something like this on ebay or Amazon.

filofax temperly cash envelope system

There are 2 card pockets in the front of my Filofax and a change pouch. I keep my gift cards, regular size store reward cards, and my keychain ones in these pockets. Also in the second opening I keep my coupons so that they are all there together for whenever I'm at the grocery store.

Filofax temperly cash envelope system

There's one more pocket right before you get to the envelopes and it's where I keep my cash register cards to track where my money goes. I made some in Word and Excel which is what you can do simply by copying my layout but you can also search the internet for them on other blogs like this one.

Filofax temperly cash envelope system

I keep my debit card in my other Filofax along with my Drivers License. That Filofax is my main one that I keep my calendar, to do lists, and other info in.

Q: What do you do with any cash that's left in a category at the end of the month?
A: It's all up to you. Some people roll it over into the next month (I do this so it acts as a mini savings fund for each category).

Others will take the extra and distribute it into other categories.

And other people use what's left in a specific category to act as the next deposit. That way you take out less cash on your next payday.

Q: What if you are short in a category and need the money for an emergency?
A: I'll use the example of the Vet fund. Say that one of my chihuahuas gets sick and needs an emergency vet check up. The bill ends up being $100 but I only have $50 in my Vet fund. There are 2 options.

Option 1 is to use that $50 and then take another $50 from your emergency savings fund (see
this post.)

Option 2 is to use what's left in another category (like the Car fund) to pay the difference and then they make sure that from their next paycheck they put the money back.

Q: What happens if my envelopes get too full?

A: Just take the cash out and put them into paper envelopes that go in a safe in your home. This way you don't have to worry if your purse gets stolen and you won't have such a stuffed envelope system.

Well, I hope this post was helpful and if you have any questions let me know!

Pssttt.... did you know I published a book all about this stuff? Check it out on Amazon for just $11.99!


Be sure to join my Facebook group, Fixing Your Finances, to help you with your finance journey along the way.  

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  1. Thats really son is doing the envelope system now...and i have an extra binder...i might set something up like that for him! Thanks!

  2. This is an awesome idea!! This helps with those moments where you think you have the money, but then balance your checkbook and find out you didn't. Thank you!

  3. Hi. This system is awesome. My question is what are the plastic envelopes that hold the mini reward cards called? I love those and am unable to find them on ebay or Amazon. Don't know what to search under. Thank you for your help.

  4. Thank you for sharing your idea! How can I find those reward card sleeves? I searched ebay and Amazon and no luck. Could you please help me find them? Thank you!

  5. Love this, going to look for a lot of these items! Definitely my new years goal to do the envelope thing. FYI- There's a free app now, I have it, called Key Ring. You can scan all your little reward/loyalty cards, then just scan your phone at each store. No more carrying the cards! I love it.

  6. I sort of set up my metropol Filofax as a part cash envelope system in October last year, \\\\\\i'm still working on it. but this is great for taking out to the shops. I only like to take what I need for the day so its not good for me, but the inexpense of turning filofaxs into these is great.

    1. I figure if I take the time to make it how I want it, I'm more likely to use it

  7. I would really like to find the plastic sheets for the little keychain rewards cards. I cannot find them anywhere. Can you give us a name, or place to find them. Im searching everything I can, and still cannot come up with something! Please help!!!!

  8. I really enjoyed reading your blog post. I had the temperly sitting around and wasn't using it because I decided to buy the filofax A5 original. Now I have a use for the temperly. I order the plastic zipper pouches and once they arrived, I followed your steps above and now I too have filofax budget envelope system. Thank you for posting this great idea!

  9. I love this i read it awhile back and come back just to read it over again. lol would love to see an updated look or if you have changed anything about your system. <3 your blog

  10. Thank you for this... I was using the small envelopes banks give out, and found that because they were so flimsy I had a hard time keeping track of them in my purse. As a result I would sometimes put them in my pocket, and on more than one occasion I thought I had lost the grocery money for the month. So I quit with the envelope system and went back to debit... but I have renewed hopes! Thanks for this great idea.

  11. Ellen, can you please give us websites for all of the above envelope system, plastic envelopes,etc. We have never put into our savings regularly and had we started it when we were married 50 years ago, we'd had a lot more money saved now then we do. Once you withdraw from savings, we never pay it back..back habit but we always have money but each month I'm finding we end up with less and less. I would like to try to keep track of all our expenses but I started it and wrote down all our spending for a week or 10 days then it went by the wayside..blame it on my ADD and stress in our lives now. I am thinking for two people, as well as being sole driver, caregiver..

  12. Ok! I cannot find those reward card puches anyway.

  13. I would think there is a less expensive purse than Filofax..maybe look at a Thrift store like Value Village, Goodwill. Maybe somebody donated one. What are the size of those plastic cash envelopes to fit in your Filofax? Does the Filofax have a ziipper? I would think it would be heavy in one's purse. Where do you put your car and house keys in that Filofax?

    1. Well, no this isn't a purse, lol it's a wallet. i keep my keys in my purse along with this. its not really that heavy.

  14. Don't you carry your wallet in your purse/pocketbook?

  15. Hi, where can I find the keychain rewards card inserts? I was unable to find them on eBay and Amazon. Thank you.

  16. Can you post how you made your tracker sheets for each category (mainly how to format it and what to put on it)? Thanks!

    1. I'm interested in know this as well. Or maybe a template link?

  17. What to you do with the coin change generated using this system?

    1. I put it all in a piggy bank and i cash it in and add it to my fun money fund usually

  18. I notice bill payments are not included. Do you manage them a different way? I found this post via pinterest so if if you have a separate post about bill budgeting, I'd love a link!

    1. Hey yes check it out here


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