This TikTok Star Used ‘Cash Stuffing’ to Pay Off $17,000 in Credit Card Debt

Sometimes, the best financial tips are the ones your grandmother used.

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Updated May 28, 2024
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One of the most common financial mistakes people make is racking up expensive credit card debt. That was the case for one TikTok star, who found herself seriously in the hole by the time 2019 rolled around.

Like many members of Generation Z, she turned to cash stuffing in order to take control of her financial future. Not only did she pay off debt with this technique, but she also amassed a huge following of folks who love her budgeting tips.

Learning her story might help you put your own debts to rest.

So what is cash stuffing?

Africa Studio/Adobe rolls of money for needs

Cash stuffing isn’t new, even though its popularity on social media has breathed life into the budgeting technique. But what exactly is it?

With this financial strategy, you keep money in savings instead of investing it. Folks who use this technique cash out their paychecks and use the money — instead of debit cards or credit cards — to purchase items and services, from groceries and gas to optional expenditures, such as hairstyling and nails.

Of course, there are still things you have to pay for electronically, such as a mortgage or a car payment. However, using cash for as many expenses as possible helps you keep track of spending in a tangible and practical way.

Many cash stuffers divvy their cash into envelopes with labels, just as their grandparents might have. This allows them to both track spending and adhere to limits they set.

Those who use the cash-stuffing approach say it helps them stick to their budget. They often are able to save money to either pay off debt or to put into savings.

How this TikTok star uses cash stuffing to stay on budget

Kittiphan/Adobe woman checking bills, taxes, bank account balance and calculating expenses

A TikTok user by the name of @LilyRNBudgets is so savvy with her money that she has hundreds of thousands of followers on TikTok and YouTube.

However, she wasn’t always such a financial wizard. When she was in nursing school, she relied on credit cards to get by.

Once she was $17,000 under water, Lily decided it was time to pay off her debt and repair her credit score. So, she started cash stuffing to organize both her spending and her savings.

In her videos, Lilly says her expenditures are groceries, hair, nails, shopping at Target, her dog, and more. Each time she gets a paycheck, Lily puts an allotted amount of money into separate, labeled envelopes in her wallet.

Lily also cash-stuffs her savings, whether it’s for her emergency fund, a new tattoo, medical expenses, emergency vet bills, or personal savings. She budgets for Christmas gifts, travel, birthday presents, car expenses, and more.

To make sure she doesn’t wind up with giant piles of cash sitting around, Lily keeps her funds in a bank. She indicates this in her videos with fake $1,000 bills that she keeps at thome and that stand in for the money that’s in her accounts.

How you can use cash stuffing to pay off your debt

ptnphotof/Adobe female hands counting US Dollar bills

If you’re inspired by Lily’s story, you can use the same budgeting technique to pay down your debt, save cash, and generally make the most of your money. It requires discipline and a commitment to the practice, but the financial freedom it provides is worth the effort.

Start by setting up your envelopes. Common envelope categories include:

  • Groceries
  • Gas and car-related payments
  • Recreational expenses such as makeup, dining out, and entertainment

Once you have made the envelopes, sit down and write out a budget based on your income. Be sure to make saving money a priority. That means you may need to keep recreational spending to a minimum. You can always increase it once you’ve paid off debt.

Sticking to the plan can be the most challenging part of cash stuffing. Each time you cash out your paycheck, divide it accordingly into the corresponding envelopes and only spend what you’ve allotted.

Like Lily, you can also cash-stuff your savings. Just remember to keep your cash in a safe location that’s secure and not at risk of robbery.

Bottom line

H_Ko/Adobe hand pushes key silver calculator

Cash stuffing has been around for decades, but thanks to social media it’s a technique that’s becoming increasingly popular among young people.

Because it’s so tangible, you might find that cash stuffing helps you reach financial goals when other methods have failed.

But don’t forget about the power of investing, which can be one of the best ways to build wealth, especially over the long-term. So, if you rely on cash stuffing for budgeting, consider having an envelope for investing as well.

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Author Details

Cat Lafuente

Cat Lafuente is a Florida-based writer and editor with extensive experience in digital and print content spaces. Her own personal finance journey — particularly consolidating debt and paying it off, in turn boosting her credit score and becoming a homeowner — inspired her to join the FinanceBuzz team; she hopes she can help others do the same.