One of the newest budgeting trends made popular by Generation Z is similar to one from a less digital world, about 20 to 30 years ago. Before the surge of plastic payment methods and virtual wallets, hoarding cash was the norm.

However, the recent cash-stuffing trend has taken social media platforms by storm. If you’ve scrolled through social media and witnessed endless videos of cash stuffing, then you’re one of over 700 million views. Not only are these videos viral, but they’ve encouraged people of all ages to consider saving.

What is cash stuffing?

Cash stuffing is a budgeting hack loosely adapted from Dave Ramsey’s Envelope Savings System. Similar to a squirrel fund, cash is set aside for fixed expenses like rent or groceries and stuffed inside a labeled envelope or binder. It’s designed to help people save money, build savings and pay down debt.

Why cash stuffing works?

A 2021 MIT study found that paying with cash versus tapping your credit card creates a higher feeling of shopper’s remorse, improving chances of sticking to a budget. And personal finance experts agree that cash encourages more discipline.

The drawbacks.

Though having actual cash in hand may induce a better sense of control, it’s not always feasible in the digital world.

  • Bills like gas, electricity, or rent are often available through online payment portals, requiring account or card information.
  • In the event of a fire, theft or natural disaster, there’s little to no protection for cash.
  • There’s no fraud protection when it comes to making cash purchases. Often, scammers will offer a discount when deals are paid in cash, making your transaction risky and untraceable.

One potential solution: virtual envelopes.

Rather than having large sums of non-disputable cash lying around your house, “virtual envelopes” are a way to participate in the budgeting trend while protecting your finances and keeping up with the digital world.

You can open several accounts and treat them like envelopes by searching for banks that offer checking and savings accounts with no minimum balances or fees. Thus, virtually stuffing them with money designated for rent, groceries, vacation, or holiday gifts.

If you’ve made it this far down the cash-stuffing rabbit hole, then it’s safe to assume you’re keeping track of a pros and cons list.

Pros of virtual envelopes:

  • Your money is secure and typically backed by a federally insured bank
  • Most banks offer detailed eStatements to keep track of deposits and withdraws
  • Balances are accessible 24/7 via Online Banking*
  • Digital payments are made easier without the need to visit a branch

Cons of virtual envelopes:

  • Lack of tangible cash counting
  • Easy to spend with the swipe or tap of a card
  • Ability to transfer funds when for impulse buys
  • Automatic deductions like streaming services or other subscriptions

Pros and cons aside, this trend is about having a strict savings mindset. If you’re not willing to forgo sushi takeout or that morning coffee trip, saving up for your new home or paying off your credit card may be further out of reach.  

And if cash stuffing isn’t for you, there’s an endless list of ways to help save money. The beauty in saving is finding what works for you and your budget.

Check out our Budgeting page and Savings Tips section at efirstbankblog.com for more ways to save.

*Online Banking is free with eStatements. $3 per month with paper statements. Online Banking is required to use mobile and online products.

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