If budgeting was fun, easy, and effective, what could you do? How would you feel?

Maybe you could pay for monthly expenses without feeling stressed or anxious. Or, buy a better car or replace your well-loved laptop without feeling strapped for cash.

Everyone’s payoff for budgeting is different. The question is, what’s yours? More importantly, wouldn’t you like to experience it?

It can happen sooner than you think with cash envelope budgeting: a system that took off decades ago with - you guessed it - cash and envelopes.

But don’t worry, you don't have to go old school to reap the benefits of this tried-and-true system.

With Braid, you can do cash envelope budgeting in a fresh, modern way - without licking a single envelope or keeping track of cash. 

Keep reading to see how you can rein in your spending, increase your savings, and splurge without guilt using both the envelope budget system and Braid.


  • 5 ways the cash envelope system improves your finances
  • 9 Cash Envelope Benefits with Braid vs the old system
  • How to start a cash envelope budgeting system with Braid Money Pools

What is cash envelope budgeting?

The cash envelope system is simple. Start by selecting your cash envelope categories, i.e. your most common spending categories every month, like groceries, gas, restaurants, clothing, etc. 

Each category gets its own envelope - or Money Pool when you use Braid. 

Then, review how much you usually spend in each category per month. And based on your findings, decide on a budget for each category and put money in each of the “envelopes.” 

For the entire month, whenever you need to purchase in a given category, spend cash from the corresponding envelope. 

When all the cash is spent in any given category, you cannot take money from another envelope. You have to wait for a new month to refill the envelopes and start spending again.

Learn how to set up your cash envelopes with Braid by clicking here!

5 ways the cash envelope system improves your finances

People have been using the cash envelope system for decades. There’s a reason for its staying power. 

Choosing your categories and then giving yourself a budget allows you to be more mindful and deliberate about your spending. 

Here are five more ways this throwback system can improve both your finances and overall well-being significantly. 

1. Alleviate stress around money

The American Psychology Association (APA) conducts an annual survey called the Stress in America Survey. The most recent data shows that money and work are the top two stressors for Americans. 

That’s the bad news. The good news? While many things are out of your control, spending habits aren’t one of them. 

And when you have a budget system that works, you can take control of your spending and alleviate some of the financial stress you might be feeling these days. 

2. Avoid credit card traps

Did you know that credit cards activate and exploit reward networks in the brain?

A leading researcher on this topic, Drazen Prelec, coauthored a study called Neural mechanisms of credit card spending, and his findings are relevant to anyone with a credit card.

According to Prelec’s research, people feel more motivated to purchase with credit cards because they light up reward circuits in the brain and give individuals an immediate sense of pleasure. 

In other words, when people pay by credit card, the brain feels instant gratification and that makes people more likely to swipe again. 

When you set up your cash envelope system with Braid, you avoid the credit card trap and spend “envelope cash” with your Braid debit card. We’ll explain more on that below!

3. Curb spending

Because swiping a credit card feels rewarding, the brain will want - and even crave - more of that reward. But don’t expect a high price tag to stand in its way!

Prelec’s research demonstrates that prices don’t influence the buyer very much. The reality of the price hits home later - when the credit card bill arrives.

With a cash envelope system, you curb spending because you’re not swiping a credit card for everything. You’re spending money from your Braid “cash envelope” or Money Pool.

Set up your cash envelopes and change your relationship with money today

4.  Close the gap in “payment coupling”

Payment coupling is the time between when you choose to buy something and when you pay for it. 

With credit cards, there’s a significant time lapse between purchase and payment, making credit card spending more pleasurable. You feel no pain until it’s time to pay your credit card bill.

But if credit card spending feels good, why would anyone want to use the cash envelope system instead? Who wants to cringe at every point of sale?

Don’t worry. You won’t. 

With cash envelope budgeting, you shrink the payment coupling because you spend directly from your envelope rather than going into debt. 

And if you feel uneasy when it comes time to swipe, that’s okay, too. It might be the sign you need to hold off and stick to your budget.

5. Enjoy your purchases more

Another reason why cash envelope budgeting works is that your purchases provide more pleasure than impulse buys or late-night shopping sprees. 

According to a study in the Journal of Consumer Research, people form an increased emotional attachment to things they buy with cash compared to credit. This may be because people are more likely to spend with intention when they spend with cash. 

Wouldn’t it be great if your purchases made you feel good long after you made them? When you pay for them with the money in your “envelope”, they can. 

How to start a cash envelope budgeting system with Braid Money Pools

The envelope system sounds great except for that “minor” detail about needing physical cash and envelopes.

Now that banking is mostly digital, the envelope system might feel outdated to you unless you use Braid. 

Braid gives this decades-old method a fresh facelift and makes it relevant for your life and finances.

Follow these seven steps to set up your cash envelopes with Braid. 

1. Choose your cash envelope categories 

Excluding your rent, mortgage, or utilities, what are your cash envelope categories every month? 

Common ones include groceries, gas, dining out, health/fitness, clothing, personal care, pet care, household goods, gifts, subscriptions, etc.

Long-time Braid user, Shalom Mascarinas, uses Braid for his cash envelope budgeting, and his categories include education, play, donations, and long-term savings and spending. 

You can read more about how Shalom uses Braid to set up his envelope system and improve personal finances here

If you’re not sure what your spending categories are, look over your last couple of debit or credit card statements to understand your spending habits better.

2. Start a Braid Pool for each category

Rather than use envelopes as a haven for your cash, set up a Braid Pool for each category. 

It’s free to download Braid and it’s free to set up and use your money pools.

There’s no limit to how many pools you can create, so you get to have one pool for each of your spending categories. 

With Braid, you don't have to worry about losing cash or envelopes; your “envelopes” are always in the app. 

3. Choose a budget for each category and put money in your pool  

A quick review of your debit or credit card statements will show you the average amount you spend in each category every month. 

Based on these figures, choose a budget for each one, like “Groceries: $500”, “Clothing: $100”, “Yoga classes: $200,” etc.  

Add money to each pool using your debit card or via bank transfer. It’s free, and it’s an easy way to set yourself up for success for the entire month.

If you share a cash envelope budgeting system with your partner or housemate, invite them to download the app and join the pools you set up so you can budget, save, and spend together! 

If they don’t want to download the app, send them the Pool Link so they can contribute funds, no need to sign up.  

Ready to set up your cash envelope categories? Click here to get started!

4. Spend directly from your pool 

Money is moving in the digital direction. So, it doesn’t make sense to revert to using cash in your envelope budgeting.

With Braid, you don’t have to switch back and forth between physical cash and digital money. You add money via bank transfers or debit card contributions and you spend money with your pool’s digital debit card.

Every pool automatically comes with one and you can use it everywhere Mastercard is accepted. If you want a physical debit card for in-person spending, you can request one, too. 

This feature allows you to keep doing what you probably already do: spend with a debit card. It’s the most common way people spend money these days, according to the Federal Reserve's 2021 Findings from the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice.

5. Easily track spending and stay within budget 

With Braid, cash envelopes get an upgrade. They’re not just a place for your cash. Braid Pools also track every transaction and keep a running balance which you can check at any time.

This way, you can stay within budget without worrying about bookkeeping, loose change, or lost receipts.

6. Successfully stick to your cash envelope system with separate pools 

One of the rules of cash envelope budgeting - and one of the reasons why it works so well - is that you can’t take money from one cash envelope to pay for another category.

Braid helps you play by these rules. 

With Braid Pools, you never have to worry about losing track of your spending; you can check your balance and track transactions at any time in the app. This way, you’re less likely to overspend and empty an “envelope.” 

With Braid, you can stick to your budget, develop discipline, and improve your spending habits. 

7. Never worry about over-drafting your account

Some people have tried to do cash envelope budgeting by opening several bank accounts. But many accounts require a minimum balance, and that’s hard to maintain with a budgeting system like this. 

You don’t have to worry about that with Braid. There is no minimum balance required at any time so you never have to worry about getting docked with a surprise fee. 

What about when you try to spend from your pool but there are insufficient funds or the pool is empty? Don’t worry, you can’t overdraft your pool and Braid doesn’t charge an overdraft fee. 

“Cash” and “envelopes” aren’t two words that come to mind when talking about money management. But the cash envelope system is anything but obsolete. 

With Braid, you get to enjoy digital cash envelopes that are easy to set up and easy to use. 

This allows you to reign in your spending, increase your savings, and splurge without guilt because you have a budgeting system that works. 

Start cash envelope budgeting with Braid Money Pools today!

Click here to get started