Saturday, February 20, 2010

My Budget Book

I'm a big fan of the Envelope Budgeting System. Where you use cash and have envelopes for each of the line items in your budget and keep the cash for each item, in each envelopes. I used the system for about 6 months last year and it was amazing how on budget I was each week.

Then life got busy and just like my workout intentions everything goes out the door around July when life kicks into high gear.

Well, I'm ready to get back into it, which is why learned how to make my own envelopes last week, so I could make a book of envelopes. (Sort of like Megan did, though I went about mine a little different.)

Here is what I started with:

  • 6 Envelopes, 1 each for groceries week 1, groceries week 2, Target, date night, "bonus*" and receipts. (These are the items I pay cash for in a 2 week pay period.)
  • Pretty fabric
  • Pretty paper
  • Chip board 
  • Glue
  • Straight edge
  • Box cutter
  • Letter stickers to mark the purpose of your envelope
  • 2 pieces of ribbon, cut to 6-8 inches
You don't need to make your own envelopes as I did, that was just me being a freak... well, because I'm a freak. And please, there are other tutorials for this online, which are likely better than mine, but I couldn't find some of the supplies that Martha Steward called for... my AC Moore doesn't carry book binding tape. So this is how I did it, feel free to look to someone else, or make your own way.

1st step - Cut strips of fabric about 1.5" inches wide by the height of your envelopes.

Step 2 - Take 2 of your envelopes and place them side, one facing up, the other facing down.

Step 3 - Coat one of the strips of fabric with glue, first I used regular white glue, that took forever to dry. So then I moved onto a quick drying craft glue from 3M that I really ended up liking.


Step 4 - Apply the glued strip to the envelopes butting them very close together.

Repeat step 4 until you have all the envelopes bound together. I first bound 3 sets of 2 together, letting them dry. And then bound the 3 sets together...

Step 5 - Cut 2 pieces of chip board .5" taller than your envelopes and .25" wider. Then cut a strip of chip board that is equal in height to the other 2 and the same width as your bound envelope. (No picture of this step, but you'll see in steps 6 and 7 what they look like)

Step 6 - Lay your pieces of card board down on your fabric and coat the chip board with glue. Note the slight .125" gap between the front and back covers and the spine of the book. This is important to allow your binding space to bend.

(Brush the glue, don't just leave it swirly like my picture... you couldn't really see the glue once I'd brushed it in so I took the picture while it was swirly like.)
Step 7 - With all 3 pieces of chip board glued to the fabric, slip the fabric up to the corners of the chip board

Step 8 - And then glue and fold in your fabric.

Step 9 - Time to bind the envelopes into the binding. Using 2 more strips of fabric, attach the last envelope to the back cover and the 1st envelope to the front.

Step 10 - Cut 2 lengths of ribbon to 6-8" inches, and 2 pieces of paper to .25" smaller than your front and back covers.

Step 11 - Glue the ribbon half way down the outside edge of the back cover.
Step 12 - Glue the pretty paper to the inside back cover of the book.
Repeat steps 11 & 12 for the front cover.
Step 13 - Label each of your envelopes... I decided just to use the initials for each of my categories. And I also labeled them on the front and back... just because I could.

And here is my finished budget book.



And of course, use of these isn't limited to a budget book, I can see making these to hold any variety of things. Favorite cards from the holidays, pictures, treasures from special trips... all kinds of wonderful things.

I'm thinking of coating the outside of my book with a bit of mod podge, not sure about it though.


  1. Look how organized you are!!! Wow, your budget book is beautiful! Hugs from Texas!

  2. What a great idea! And cute too!

  3. Very cute and functional that! Thanks for linkin' up to Frugalicious Friday!

  4. That is so cute!! I am so impressed with it and I love the system too.

  5. cool idea! love it

    thanks for the tutorial

  6. love it because I was using the envelope system too - need to get back on at that because we sure saved a lot more money when we were on it!

  7. What a great idea! I love it and it makes being on a budget so much cuter :)

  8. oh how pretty! just the thing to keep a budget in check... and look stylish too!

    ~ Emily N. from "too Blessed to Stress"

  9. oh, i love this! i have been thinking about doing the envelope system and this would be perfect on getting me to do it! thanks for sharing!

  10. What a smart idea, and pretty too! I love that it can be used for anything and personalized however you like. Awesome!

  11. I do the cash budget too (LOVE IT). And this looks a great project!

  12. Beautiful! Now if only I had a little cash to put in those envelopes! :)

  13. Question--several months later, how is it holding up? I'm trying to get something together for my 8 year old daughter and it needs to be tough (and very inexpensive).

  14. You could probably just use the standard bookbinding technique of clamping the edges of the envelopes together evenly, sanding the edge a little bit, then brushing glue on the edge and gluing the whole stack to a single strip of fabric.
    Your technique of gluing 2 envelopes together with a fabric strip gives much stronger bond but I wonder if it's overkill for the expected lifetime of the paper envelopes. I bet what I just described would be plenty strong and last long enough that the envelopes would start to wear out/you would want to replace them.


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