The Envelope Method

My mother lives 4.5 hours away in Ottawa. It usually amounts to at least 10 hours of driving. That’s roughly 120$ gas money, at least 50$ food money, and probably a trip to at least one Winners to buy the house something it doesn’t need, to look pretty. Money, money, money. But heeeeey man, it ain’t no thaaaang, we’ve got the envelopes babyyy!

My boyfriend used to constantly drive me to the brink of insanity by tallying our spending on little strips of paper.  I would find them ev-er-y-where. On the nightstand, in backpacks,  beside the coffee cups,  in jean pockets, jacket pockets, on the fridge, in the car… everywhere I looked it felt like I was watching our money dwindle away on these little sheets of paper. What we spent, what we owe, what we need; his lists of costs outnumbered my straggler bobby-pins 20 billion:1.

I started feeling like even the small, necessary expenditures would set him off into a tally-scribbling panic. Personally, I’ve never had a lot of money and more often than not, with the occasional in-hysterics-to-my-mother-oh-how-do-I-pay-these-mf-bills?!, I’ve been content to squeak by financially. So, for the first time in my life, I was feeling consistent anxiety about where the money that came in, went to. Well that won’t do.

I encouraged us to dip into the paltry savings we had and go on a trip. First, we drove to the eastern cliffs of Canada. A month later, with the travel bug firmly implanted in my lustful brain, I pleaded to splurge on another trip and with a look of our-five-year-plan-is-definitely-homelessness on my bf’s face, we took off on an airplane to Cuba.

His lists got worse and trying to drown his anxiety in my impulsiveness  was just as toxic a remedy.

So one day, in the midst of a sick-of-all-these-mf-lists rage, we gave birth to The Envelope Method. This method has not only saved our sanity and our relationship, but our finances as well. It has bought us a house, paid for our mortgage, our increasing property tax, kept our dog fed, paid all our bills, our date nights, our credit card debt, Christmas gifts, and most importantly, travel. We’ve never missed a payment, we’ve never been short on anything we need, and we’ve repeatedly been able to indulge in what we want.

Working for 11.75 CAD/hr, LESS than 40 hours/TWO weeks, aren’t you dying to get down to the mathematics!?

– grab a handful of erryday envelopes
– take your total earnings per month
– break it down to your pay period (bi-weekly for example)
– have a mental or physical list handy of all your expenditures (phone bill, internet, rent/mortgage, pet, car, grocery, debt)

For the first couple months or so you may want to stick with the most pressing financial matters. Later on you can add things like: vacation, date night/fun, savings, Christmas/birthdays, Jeep Wrangler, etc.

– each envelope is devoted to one of those pressing financial matters, write that thing on the thing
– do some simple, personal budgeting. How much do you pay for car insurance a month? How much do you spend on food? On hydro (if you live in Ontario, that answer is probably ‘everything I ever make’), etc
– figure out how much money you need in each envelope to make that financial matter, not a pressing one by the end of the month (aka, paid)
– if you are paid bi-weekly, you have the option of setting aside half the required amount per paycheck to make ends meet by the end of the month (or, get it done in one pay, and look forward to putting that extra money the next pay day into your Jeep Wrangler envelope)
– I aim to keep 30-80$ not devoted to an envelope in case of emergency (hey, that’s a good envelope to have!)
– lock it up in a lock box and [don’t] watch it grow!

When you put the money into these envelopes, you have devoted that money to that specific cost, and NO MATTER WHAT, you do not take it out and spend it on something else! E-V-E-R.

It’s really basic shit here, but I’m telling you, before you know it, you’ll be climbing Machu Picchu and pimpin’ yo Wraglaaaa without ever feeling like you had to painstakingly scrounge together money from somewhere you didn’t really have.

Also, in addition to The Envelope Method, and the REAL secret to my TRAVEL success is CHANGE. A simple shift in perception.
Just kidding, the actual coin.
I travel 1-2 times PER YEAR on change. I NEVER spent it, AND I only keep the loonies, toonies, and quarters; I give the rest to my daughter if she cleans her pigsty of a bedroom every week.

A special thank you to Jeff, my boyfriend, for showing me that I can still maintain a hippy AF perception on money, but sorta be an adulting wizard about it too.

If you’ve got questions about The Envelope Method or maybe you’ve been trying it out, I’d love to hear from you! Drop me a comment or hit up the Contact page.

Happy Wandering~

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