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The Envelope Returns

Marjorie Kondrack

HAVE YOU HEARD of the latest budgeting technique? It’s called cash stuffing. No, it’s not shoving money into your mattress. It’s the new name for an old budgeting method, where you divide your weekly pay into envelopes earmarked for various spending categories, such as food, gas, rent, vacations, clothing and so on.

For each expense, you spend only from that envelope and, when it’s empty, that’s it. No cheating. No dipping into other envelopes.

I’m sure you get the idea. After all, this isn’t a new phenomenon. I remember my parents sitting around the kitchen table, apportioning the family salary into various envelopes that they’d carefully budgeted money for. My father had one marked “house money”—a catch-all for food and miscellaneous small expenditures related to running our household.

This time around, cash stuffing has sprouted into a popular industry. You can buy all manner of envelope sets, such as envelopes of different colors for different categories. There’s a budget planner binder and even a genuine leather all-in-one deluxe version for $89.

The more you spend on these organizers, the more sophisticated and supposedly inclusive the binder, with all manner of compartments and zippered pouches. You can get them personalized, glamorized and customized.

We’re now offered cash-stuffing budget sheet planners, stickers and even tear-resistant envelopes—on and on, ad infinitum. You can purchase a plethora of these must-haves on the Amazon and Walmart websites.

The market for products relating to cash stuffing seems to still be in its infancy. Soon, an even more amazing variety of items will no doubt be available. You get it, don’t you? You have to spend money to budget money. Oh—and some sellers have renamed the cash envelopes “currency envelopes.” Fancy schmancy.

Before long, we’ll need a new budget envelope to pay for all our cash-stuffing supplies. Whatever happened to “keep it simple”?

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