PERSONAL BUDGET: The Envelope Accounting System

In my bankruptcy law practice I have realized that many of my clients have never taken the time to make and live on a budget. Many times the first time my clients have ever made a budget is when they sit down with me to file for bankruptcy. The other day I ran across this personal budget idea that I thought mat be helpful:
The Envelope Accounting System is a method of budgeting where on a regular basis (i.e. monthly, biweekly, etc.) a certain amount of money is set aside for a specific purpose, or category, in an envelope marked for that purpose. Then anytime you make a purchase you look in the envelope for the type of purchase being considered to see if there are sufficient funds to make the purchase. If the money is there, all is well. Otherwise, you have three options: 1) you do not make the purchase; 2) you wait until you can allocate more money to that envelope; 3) you sacrifice another category by moving money from its associated envelope. The flip side is true as well, if you do not spend everything in the envelope this month then the next allocation adds to what is already there resulting in more money for the next month. With envelope budgeting, the amount of money left to spend in a given category can be calculated at any time by counting the money in the envelope.

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