A friend emailed me with a bit of budgeting advice passed on from her mother, the professional organizer Janet Fishman:
Set up separate bank accounts for: living expenses, play, long-term savings, education, charity, and retirement and have either a percentage or fixed dollar amount from each paycheck go into these accounts. Most all companies that offer automatic deposits for payroll have the ability to automatically deposit into multiple accounts. Figure out how much you need to pay taxes, divide by the number of weeks you work, and that constitutes the dollar amount to set aside for each week. Repeat this for the categories above and you will be fully prepared and organized year round!
This ads up to six accounts – or more if you set up one for taxes and other categories. Phew! That strikes me as a lot to manage. Plus, you would have a harder time hitting minimum balance requirements to keep your account free or low cost.
On the other hand, how much money you have to spend on any given thing would be crystal clear. No pushing money earmarked for one expense to cover something else. Plus, retirement is singled out, which makes it more likely that you will save for retirement.
What do you think of this modern take on the “envelope” system? Would you use it?