Throwback Money Tracker: Cash Envelope System

Aww, the good ol’ fashioned days of a cash envelope system. My first paychecks started rolling in at about age 12. Hello babysitting money. I didn’t do much of anything with the money besides putting it in a savings account in the bank.

My parents emphasized savings. A lot. They paid for all of my basic childhood needs. School clothes, endless shoes and equipment for sports, haircuts, etc. But something happened at about age 15 when I started receiving full-time employment paychecks around my Freshman year of high school. Anything I purchased, I wanted it to be MINE. Not something someone else bought me and I may have to share with my sister.

The year was 1999 and minimum wage was $5.15. The first full-time paycheck I received was a little over $200. My eyes lit up like a kid on Christmas. There were THREE digits in this paycheck. What’s the first thing I did? Of course, drive to the bank and cashed it out. What’s the next thing I did? Drive to Walmart and purchase a 5 CD disk changer.

My life was complete. I could play CDs in my room for hours on end without changing the CD every 12 songs. Oh, and it came with a remote. Did my parent’s critique my purchase? I think they simply said, “Nice. I know you’ve been wanting one for a long time. Just make sure you save enough to pay for your own taxes at the end of the year, your student loans and enough to live off of when you graduate high school.”

Wait. What? Taxes? And I have to pay for my own crap at college? OK. Adulthood sucks. The first paycheck splurge was over. I dug through our house to find ugly mailing envelopes and markers. It was time to get organized and disciplined about savings.

Are you ready to do the same?

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