A Texas woman who was nearly $80,000 deep in debt has gone viral for using a saving method called cash stuffing to pay it all off.
Jasmine Taylor, 31, lives in Amarillo, Texas. In January 2021, she owed about $60,000 in student loans, $9,000 in credit card debt and about $10,000 in medical debt, she told USA TODAY.
Taylor has a degree in applied science and was trying to get her teaching certification. To earn money, she did everything she could think of: food and prescription delivery, couponing, online surveys, transcribing and more.
She was watching YouTube when she found out about cash stuffing, a budgeting system where individuals take cash for different spending categories and put the money into envelopes.
"I was turning 30 that year and I was just tired of being in financial distress," Taylor said. "I had a degree, no job, tons of debt and just no functioning budget."
How cash stuffing helped her reduce debt
Traditional savings methods weren't working for Taylor. She'd transfer money to her savings one day only to transfer it back to her checking account the next day.
In February 2021, she decided to try cash stuffing; to make sure she'd stick with the budgeting plan, she began sharing her experiences on social media.
"It was just something about tangibly handling the cash and seeing my money save up in the envelopes that really clicked a switch in my head," Taylor said. "I could hand you a $100 bill now and a debit card with $100. I guarantee you it would be a lot easier to swipe that card than it would be to break the $100. We just have some type of connection with physical cash."
And as she shared her experiences, people were drawn to the envelopes, binders and other saving tools she used, many of which Taylor made herself.
Taylor didn't have steady income just yet, so she used her spring 2021 stimulus check to kickstart her business, Baddies & Budgets.
She now runs the company full-time, selling glittery binders with cash envelopes, wallets for everyday expenses. Taylor also earns money from YouTube and other social media collaborations.
Her business ventures have allowed her to pay off her debt, she said.
"From April to December of 2021, I paid off $30,000 in debt and then all the rest of it, I paid off in 2022," she said.
She opted to try the debt snowball method while working on her finances. She started with smaller debts and then moved on to larger amounts, calling her financial feat "surreal."
"It kind of feels hopeless when you get yourself so far into a bad financial situation," Taylor said.
How does cash stuffing work?
Taylor said cash stuffing involves two different types of envelopes:
- Envelopes you carry with you for variable expenses (gas, groceries, eating out)
- Envelopes for sinking funds (car insurance/maintenance, travel, holidays)
"Instead of waiting until you get a nail in your tire and then you have to go pay $300 for a tire, you set aside $10 or $12 every paycheck," Taylor said. "If something happens to your car, you can go to your envelope, get the money and pay for it."
And don't forget Christmas shopping. If savers can start a Christmas sinking fund in January and put $21 in it each week, they'll have about $1,100 by Christmas, she said.
In general, Taylor said it's a good rule of thumb to create a sinking fund for heavy or burdensome expenses.
Want to save? Find out where your money is being wasted.
Taylor said tracking your spending is a great way to save money in the long run.
Individuals can track their expenses if they:
- Print bank statements from the past two months
- Get a set of highlighters and assign a color to different spending categories
- Highlight spending for each category
- Add up spending amounts for each category
Tracking your spending can also be done over 30 days using a spiral notebook, she said.
Most people are shocked to see where their money is going and often times, the issue isn't that people don't have enough money - they're just wasting funds.
"You can't out-save poverty and I get that, but typically for most of us, we overspend on Amazon, buying outfits on SHEIN and everything we see on TikTok that is trending, we have to go buy it," she said.
Taylor said she was sick to her stomach when she realized she was spending so much on Amazon. Those little $12 purchases can add up to well over $500 if you keep doing it, she said.
Since starting her personal finance company Baddies & Budgets, Taylor has been able to help people struggling like herself, including domestic violence survivors.
She walks them through a budgeting plan, helping them put money away for housing.
If you're in deep financially, there is help out there, she said.
"There is hope beyond your current situation, no matter what it is."