What is TikTok’s Cash Stuffing Strategy and How Can It Help You Save Money?

An envelope full of cash with the word "Groceries" printed on it, with other envelopes in the background.
RonBailey / Getty Images/iStockphoto

It’s sometimes useful to get back to the basics, and the #cashstuffing trend on Tik Tok and other social media is just that: stuffing cash in envelopes or in binders to better budget. And with inflation at a 41-year high, as well as food and gas prices continuing to soar, forcing oneself to a strict budget and sticking to cash might be a good idea.

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Videos on Tik Tok with the hashtag are garnering millions of views, and there are even challenges for the money-budgeting method. As of Monday May 2, videos with the #cashstuffing hashtag had 446 million views, and that’s not counting the dozens of different iterations, including #cashenvelopstuffing and #stuffingcashenvelops.

The way it works is rather simple, just like when people used to stuff cash under their mattress, this time around, people use binders or envelopes to set aside cash for their different financial necessities, including rent or mortgage, gas, groceries and vacation.

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Daniel Hill, Founder of Lawton Hathaway Ltd.-Credit Management Solutions, told GOBankingRates that cash stuffing is a welcome and healthy change of attitude toward personal debt.

“It’s actually a traditional way of planning finances which has been picked up again by smart influencers and young adults alike who are fed up at the ease of which banks, digital payments providers and credit card companies can get you in financial trouble and distress,” Hill said. “It’s taking back control and rebelling somewhat against consumerism. It’s spending what you have and not what you haven’t.”

Hill added that typically it is a short-term answer for a long-term goal such as getting out of debt or building a deposit for a house, but it’s also much more than that from a financial well-being point of view. “Long May it trend,” he said.

Tania Brown, a certified financial planner and financial coach at SaverLife, told CNBC that cash stuffing requires commitment.

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“There’s no doubt that cash stuffing is more time-consuming than paying with a debit or credit card, which can be a frictionless experience,” she told CNBC. “When you think about the time that you have to take to create the budget, go to a bank to pull out the money … then come back home, divide the money, put the money into envelopes. Do you have the time to spend on this?”

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Brown recommended thinking about the motivations behind cash stuffing “because you can easily overspend cash, or to go into an envelope and just pull money out from one item to another,” she told CNBC.

“You have to have some strict rules … you have to be able to trust yourself,” she added.

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.
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