Videos in which banknotes are carefully placed in transparent envelopes are currently delighting many Tiktok users in the USA. The envelopes are labeled “Food” or “Gasoline”. On display is an age-old budgeting method that’s back in vogue in the United States in the face of high inflation.

Judia Griner, for example, started “cash stuffing” two years ago when she was still a student at a university in Virginia. “I somehow had to use my money to pay my tuition fees and didn’t want to accumulate too much debt,” says the 25-year-old. And debts are incurred quickly if – as is quite common in the USA – everything is paid for by credit card.

In the past, she had no overview of her finances, says Griner. “I swiped my card and just hoped the money would be enough.” More than 200,000 people now follow her on Tiktok.

The 31-year-old Jasmine Taylor felt the same way. She has been filming herself doing household chores since the beginning of 2021 – and now has more than 620,000 followers on Tiktok. She used to shop on impulse, says Taylor, her finances were in bad shape.

With cash stuffing, everything is paid for in cash. The monthly salary is withdrawn and put into envelopes that become clearly defined budgets: for running costs, rent or purchases, for example. There are also savings goals for every budget.

Griner saved the equivalent of around 6800 euros, as she says. A problem of her generation is “consumerism” and “excessive spending”. With the envelope method, however, she saw “how I spent my money, how it disappeared”. That helped her to “slow down her purchases”.

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But Jason Howell, a professor of wealth management at American University, warns: “2023 is probably the worst time to have your money in the house with cash”. Because the money does not earn any interest there – and inflation loses its value. Jasmine Taylor therefore pays her saved money from the equivalent of 900 euros into the bank.

Howell and Malani doubt that the Tiktok trend around the envelope method will herald a comeback of cash in the USA. In a study by the Pew Research Center, four out of 10 Americans said they had not paid in cash at all in a typical week in the past year.

According to Judia Griner, the envelope system is “the best way for beginners to keep track of their expenses”. It helped her to “develop trust in money”.