The Envelope Budgeting System Can Be Great...Until It Gets Shredded

Image courtesy of Jackee Belnap

Image courtesy of Jackee Belnap

Many may be familiar with the envelope budgeting system, where you figure out your discretionary income, decide on your budget categories, and then put actual cash into each envelope for those categories.  Then, once the cash is gone, that’s it for that category, unless you move it to another envelope.  It’s a great way to stay accountable.  However, you may wish to make sure your envelopes are in a safe place, out of the reach of little ones.  One couple found this out the hard way.

According to CBS News via 10TV of Columbus, a Salt Lake City couple had left an envelope with $1,060 inside in cash.  Like any innocent set of young parents, they didn’t think their 2-year-old son would get ahold of it.  You can probably guess what happens next.

Parents Ben and Jackee Belnap had been saving the money up in order to pay back Ben’s parents for University of Utah season football tickets.  The cash-filled envelope was left on the counter, so as not to forget taking it with them for the weekend.

"We realized it was gone the next day and started to search. We searched everywhere in our house and could not find it," said Jackee, "I have a bin where I put junk mail and any files I want shredded and my son and I shred it when it gets full. I looked through that and then it made me think to look in the shredder."

The money was found – but not exactly in the way they were hoping.

"We were silent for about five minutes and just sorted money out and then I broke the silence and said, 'this will make a great wedding story someday,'" Jackee said.

The couple immediately realized that their son Leo was the likely culprit as he regularly helps them to shred their junk mail.

"Leo had no idea he did anything wrong," Jackee said, "It felt unfair to get mad and he probably doesn't even know what cash is as we use our credit card for almost everything."

The couple has definitely learned a valuable lesson as one would guess.  Amazingly, all may not be lost for the shredded cash either. 

According to Jackee, Ben had called the government department that handles mutilated currency matters, and was alerted that he could send the shredded money to them and the couple would in turn get their money back.  However, it could take anywhere from 6 months to 3 years.  It seems like it’ll be worth the wait though as Ben’s parents are willing to remain patient while the Treasury sorts through everything. 

 So, while the envelope budgeting system can certainly be helpful in holding you accountable for your spending, make sure you stay equally accountable about it staying out of the reach of the curious hands of little ones.