Last Updated on
Learn to implement a no envelope digital budget tracker to keep track of your finances right from your phone. Perfect for those that like to shop online or just don’t like carrying cash!
If you have been trying to budget for any time at all, it is likely that you have heard of Dave Ramsey. I remember first hearing of him while sitting at my Grandmother’s kitchen table and listening to my Mom and uncle discuss his books.
If you follow his simple “baby” steps, you can be debt free. Sounds great. But it is not easy.
While I haven’t read his book (I’m on the waiting list at the library), I have listened to his radio show many times. One thing that you pick up quickly is that there is no time for crying or whining about why you need XYZ. Dave is very clear in wants and needs. And you need to cut out the fluff.
That is one reason that I am doing this No Spend January Challenge. To cut out unnecessary spending and have extra money to save.
So according to the principles Dave sets forward, if you can’t afford it (meaning you can’t buy it with money that you have right now), you don’t purchase it. This is where his popular cash envelope system enters the picture. It is a simple concept yet so many of us don’t follow it. Only buying what you can afford will prevent debt.
My No Envelope Digital Budget Tracker accomplishes the same goal but in a different manner. I will explain how to use the digital budget tracker but we will dip into the Dave Ramsey envelope method first.
(Affiliate Links are used in this post. A small commission may be paid to me at no extra cost to you and that helps to support this page. Please see my disclosures page for additional information.)
What Is Dave Ramsey’s Envelope System
Keep in mind that this is just an overview and I’m sure that there are plenty of details that you can gain by reading the books and listening to the radio show.
First you would create your budget according to his guidelines.
Next, you separate each category out and create a cash envelope for the group. So for example, you might have an envelope for groceries, one for entertainment and one for clothing.
Each week you would fill your envelopes with the cash that you have budgeted for each category.
So if you had $100 in your grocery envelope, you take that up to Kroger. What you don’t take is a credit card. Since you only have $100 cash, you can only buy what you have the money for right there and then.
Basically it eliminates unnecessary purchases and overspending.
No Envelope Digital Budget Tracker
I like the envelope system because it is the ultimate in holding you accountable. If you don’t have that credit or debit card in your pocket, you are not going to overspend because you can’t.
But with a little self discipline, you can apply the same principles of following a budget but without the pesky cash envelope system to deal with.
3 Reasons I Don’t Use The Envelope System
But I also know that the envelope system is not something I felt would be doable for me. If Dave read this, he would probably say it is lazy and to be honest he would be right. Here is why I don’t use the envelope system.
- I have direct deposit of my pay checks for a reason. I hate going to the bank and I don’t want to drag two kids to the bank to get cash.
- Online shopping is my jam. (I’m guessing Dave wouldn’t like that either!) However, if I can stick to my planned budget, I don’t see anything wrong with online shopping and I buy lots of essentials online at better prices that I can get at the grocery or big box stores.
- Safety. I live in what I would consider a very safe suburb but the major city that we live near is consistently ranked in the top 20 most dangerous in the US. So having a few hundred bucks cash on me is something I prefer not to have. If someone steals my purse, they will get a debit card that I can quickly cancel and a bunch of diapers, goldfish crackers and whatever other kid junk has settled to the bottom!
Alternative to The Envelopes
Even though I don’t want to carry around 10 envelopes filled with cash, I still see value in the overall concept of Dave’s plan.
As an alternative, I have created a no envelope Digital Budget Tracker that you can keep on your phone to track your expenses on the go! Use the template created and modify it to fit your specific family needs.
How To Use The No Envelope Digital Budget Tracker
Using the no envelope digital budget tracker is quick and easy.
- Download the Google Sheets app to your phone (It is free!)
- Open the No Envelope Digital Budget Tracker Template
- Personalize the Budget to meet your needs!
There are several sheets contained in the file (look at the bottom to see the different tabs). All of them have built in formulas but you can manipulate the fields to reflect the dollar amount that you wish to spend per category. And you can even add or chnage categories to better reflect your monetary and savings goals.
Standard Monthly Expenses
The first sheet is your standard monthly expenses.
You will see at the top a section for the “total monthly budget.” You can change this number to whatever your total monthly income is at this time.
Next, you will see a variety of normally recurring bills that you may have. Fill in your expenses to reflect the amount that you owe.
Groceries & Household Consumables Sheet
The next tab that you see is for groceries and household consumables. Included in my consumables are things like toilet paper, shampoo, diapers and wipes.
I assumed one weekly trip to the grocery store but there are plenty of lines if you go more frequently.
You can set your budget at the top and then fill in your expenditures each time you spend money in this category (just like you would if you were using the cash envelope system).
The “total remaining budget” cell will automatically update as you enter expenses, giving you the exact amount of money that you have left for this category.
Remaining Category Sheets
There are a few other category sheets that I have already set up so that all you need to do is plug your budget and expenses.
- Entertainment & Luxury Self Care (Movies, Travel, Makeup, Nails, Etc)
- Gifts & Home Improvements (Birthdays, Save For Christmas, New Bathroom Towels, Home Decor)
- Miscellaneous – I set this one up for your personal expenses (Hobby expenses, Debt repayment etc)
What are your budget goals this year?