Written by: M Katie Helle, CPA

Today, swiping your credit or debit card is nothing out of the ordinary.  A quick swipe may leave you wondering if your spending habits align with the income you are earning or if they are out of control.  Here are some signs your spending may be a problem:

  • You continually carry a balance on your credit card without paying it off.
  • You run out of money in your bank account before the month ends.
  • You do not follow a budget to know when your earnings are going.
  • You justify the need to spend money on items you do not need.
  • You are unable to balance your checkbook.
  • You hide purchases from others.

If any of these ring true for you, you may want to consider sitting down and evaluating your budget.  Figure out your fixed and variable bills and determine any extra money you may have.  Then, consider using the envelope system until you can get your spending under control.

The envelope system works just as it sounds.  You will have an envelope for each category in your budget; you place cash in the envelope, which is your allowance for that category during the month.  For example, you may have a “Fun Money” envelope with $150 for the month.  You go out with friends for dinner and decide to go to the movie.  This night out with friends costs you $60, leaving you with $90 in the “Fun Money” envelope to last you the rest of the month.

Carrying cash versus swiping a card tends to bring awareness to your spending habits, which can leave you in a better financial position.  I encourage every young adult to try the envelope system, as it is truly an eye-opening experience.


Katie Helle has been in public accounting since 2009, with experience in individual and small business taxation, specializing in payroll and sales tax reporting and compliance and QuickBooks accounting software. She is an Arizona native and resides in Chandler, Arizona with her husband, young daughter, and two goldendoodles.  Outside the office, she is actively involved with community outreach, enjoys fitness, and can be found with a power tool or two in her hand for her many crafts.