The Envelope Queen: Setting Up Cashless Cash Envelopes

Upsider Stories, How to Up, Spending and Budgeting, Saving

A throne surrounded by envelopes of cash

Hi, my name is Emma, I’m 25, I live in Melbourne, and I’m a Project Officer working in the family violence space.

Budgeting is important to me because I believe if you plan your finances wisely as early as you can, you’re building the foundations for the rest of your life. Budgeting helps me make sure that I can still enjoy an avocado toast on the weekend, whilst saving for a home!

I wanted to tell you about how I use Up, because talking about money is one of my favourite things to do! It's still highly stigmatised and I think that needs to change. Talking about money transparently gives others greater confidence to achieve their goals.

An envelope full of cash

The Cash Envelope System

It all started when I fell down the rabbit hole of watching cash envelope stuffing videos on YouTube. Some of the most popular are by Dave Ramsay but there are heaps of others.

With this way of budgeting, you get a paper envelope, write your budget category on that envelope and put your cash budget inside that envelope. You can only spend what is inside that envelope, which helps with discipline and keeps you accountable.

I really liked the idea of this system! The only problem is that it uses cash. This may sound weird as it is literally called the cash envelope system. The envelope system is based on the idea that people spend less when they have to part with physical cash.

But I started looking into this system right around when COVID-19 was beginning, and I could tell we were moving very quickly to becoming a cashless society.

Plus, all my bills are automated. The idea of trying to pay bills in cash feels weird. I went looking for a way to get the benefits of this method without the drawbacks of actually handling money.

A castle surrounded by flying envelopes

My Cash Free Saver Kingdom

Here's where Up comes in!

The feature that drew me to Up was Savers, because Savers mean I can use Up as a cashless cash envelope system. I can easily create my budget categories, one for each ‘envelope’, put my money in and away we go.

It's so easy to see where my money is coming and going and using a digital system still keeps me accountable.

To fill my ‘envelopes’ I use both automatic and manual payments.

My automatic payments to my Savers are for fixed expenses that occur periodically - subscriptions, sport fees, annual credit card fees, etc. Automatic payments ensure that I always have enough in my Savers when I need it, and it’s super handy that each automatic Saver tells me when I will reach my savings target.

I move my money manually for more flexible Savers: gifts, savings and general spending. These Savers are less essential. That’s why I move my money in when I want to, rather than making them a regular commitment.

A magic lock in the Saving kingdon

Biometric Controls = Time To Think

In the cash envelope system, you can’t spend the money unless it’s actually with you. Say you finally find the vinyl you’ve been hunting down for ages. You can’t actually buy it unless you go home and get that money. It gives you time to think.

I’ve recreated this in Up by making myself physically move money to my spendable balance in order to use it. With biometric authentication. There’s no ‘float’ just waiting around in my spendable balance: I make myself stop and consider if this is something I need, or truly want.

I like that I really have to stop and think at the biometric authentication about whether I truly need to buy another plushie to keep me company through lockdown — and if the answer is yes, I do, then I get it 💝

Building Up an Emergency Saver

If I have extra money in a Saver I’ll usually let it build up over time. I wasn’t always like this: in the past if I had money in my account I was going to spend it. But using Savers as cash envelopes has taught me how to be disciplined with my money.

However, on the odd occasion things don’t always go to plan.

If I don’t have enough in a Saver for something that I need, that’s what my Emergency Saver is for. But, if I do need to dip into my Emergency Saver I really have to think about whether what I am about to purchase is something I truly need. Again, this is where biometric authentication comes in handy!

Adding a challenge with Round Ups

Along with Savers I also use the Round Up feature. Round Ups are such a good way to build your savings, because you don’t even realise you’re saving money when it happens. I have my Round Ups set to go to my general savings.

This Saver I also use for a savings challenge that I’ve been doing throughout 2021 - during the first week of the year save $1, during the second week of the year save $2, and on, and on. I’m not sure what I'm going to use my Savings Saver for yet (fingers crossed for travel in 2022!), but Round Ups helps ensure it grows just that little bit more without me realising.

How do you use Up?

The Up team would love to make this post part of a series, about all the ways people customise Up to fit their own personal money style. If you’ve got a story to tell, email Anne at!

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