If you’re like most people, you probably find saving money a bit of a drag.
That’s why I love the 100 envelope challenge.
It makes saving fun and exciting because you never know how much you’ll be saving next—you could be saving $1 today or tucking a crisp Benjamin into an envelope tomorrow. Each day is literally a new adventure!
The best part about this challenge is that it doesn’t even require a major lifestyle overhaul.
You just need to fill an envelope with some cash and put it away each day for the next 100 days, and you’ll soon find yourself with an extra $5,050 in your pocket, just in time for Christmas, summer vacation, or a new car.
The simplicity of this challenge makes saving more approachable and less intimidating than some other saving methods that require extensive planning or detailed budgets.
According to CNBC, the recent New York Life Wealth Watch survey found that Americans aim to save an average of $5,710 this year. The 100 envelop challenge seems like a good start for this goal.
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What Is The 100 Envelope Challenge?
So, what is the 100 envelope challenge, and how does the 100 envelope challenge work?
The 100 envelope challenge is a cash-only savings challenge designed to help you save $5,050 in 100 days.
It’s a lot like it sounds: a game of sorts that challenges you to save money in 100 days.
Here is how the 100 envelope challenge works:
- Take 100 empty envelopes and label them with the numbers one through 100. Each envelope represents a day in the challenge.
- Choose an envelope randomly from the stack each day for 100 days. Whatever number is on the envelope you select that day; you need to put that amount of money equivalent to the number in the envelope.
For example, if your first selection has #33 written on it, then put $33 in that envelope.
- Repeat this process for 100 consecutive days—and then enjoy all those extra dollars when you get there ($5,050)!
Why The 100 Envelope Challenge
The 100 envelope challenge is a great way to save up for something special, get out of debt faster, or build up your savings account.
Whatever your goal is, this savings technique can help you get there by setting aside a certain amount of money every day. If you can stick with this challenge until completion, it will go a long way towards helping you develop good financial habits that will serve you well as you move forward in life.
Even if it doesn’t turn into a lifelong habit, the knowledge and experience gained along the way can help prevent any big financial mistakes in the future.
The 100 Envelope Challenge Kit
To get started with the 100 envelope challenge, you will need (the 100 envelope challenge kit):
100 envelopes: These are a great size and help keep things organized.
Marker: You can use a marker to write down the numbers on your envelopes.
Cash: You can withdraw a certain amount of money in advance for the upcoming challenge.
Storage Box: A container helps store all your envelopes and money in one place.
Envelope challenge tracker: A challenge tracker is a fun way to help you track your progress and keep you motivated (your choice).
How To Do The 100 Envelope Challenge Successfully (Save $5,050 in 100 Days)
If you follow the 100 envelope challenge exactly, you will end up with a whopping $5,050 saved after completing the challenge. It’s incredible how those savings can add up after just a short period of time.
Like any challenge, the 100 envelope challenge will only be successful if you plan ahead. Here are my favorite tips to help you stay focused and on track.
- Save money the first thing in the morning.
If you take care of this challenge before your day starts, you are less likely to forget, even if you get busy later.
- Mark your progress.
You want to write down your progress to see how far you’ve come. This makes it easier for you to stick with the challenge, especially on days when you don’t feel like putting any money aside.
- Set savings goals.
This is something that most weekly and monthly savings challenges have in common: they help you save for specific things.
Money goals help motivate people to keep saving even when they don’t feel like putting away any money or are tempted by something else.
Remember, the 100-day challenge is flexible. If there’s an emergency fund goal beyond $5,050—to say, $10K—consider throwing in more than $50 on days when possible!
- Track your spending.
One of the fundamental principles behind these challenges is awareness: How much money did I spend yesterday? Where did I spend it? What can I do differently today?
You want to keep track of all the money that comes in and out of your bank account, not just during the 100-day challenge itself!
Doing so will help you keep an eye on where all those dollars go and stick within budget during the months leading up to the challenge and may even motivate you to save more than usual before starting.
- Put leftover money towards savings (especially any windfalls).
This is a crucial step for staying motivated! When something doesn’t work out as planned (say, a concert ticket got refunded) or we get extra cash unexpectedly (a side-hustle pays off), transfer the amount into savings before spending it anywhere else (and yes, even before transferring it back into checking).
- Don’t overextend yourself!
Make sure that you choose a savings plan that fits your monthly budget to follow it accordingly. If things get tight one month and you don’t have enough leftover at the end of the month, consider skipping one week instead of two or waiting until next month when a new pay period starts to get back on track.
- Automate your savings if you go digital.
If you don’t want to do this 100 envelop challenge with cash, you can do it by setting up an individual savings bank account online (more details on this method later).
- Don’t give up!
If there are days when things don’t go according to plan (you ran out of cash or forgot), try again tomorrow. There’s always another chance for better savings habits tomorrow! Keep going.
What matters is being able to continue working toward completing this challenge while still handling all of life’s demands—that’s what makes this money-saving method so great!
If this all seems too daunting for you, think about doing it over time instead. Start small (like putting $5 away every week), then gradually increase until it becomes routine without much effort.
How To Increase Your Savings While Doing The 100 Envelop Challenge
If you can save more than you spend AND earn more than you spend, your wealth will grow exponentially faster. There are many ways to do both.
- Have a plan and stick to it.
By having a plan and sticking to it every day, you’ll start seeing little things that you didn’t think mattered in the big picture—things like grabbing coffee or buying lunch each day instead of making your own at home. There’s no reason why you couldn’t save $1-$2 on those drinks alone! That adds up if done daily for a year.
Consider keeping track of your spending so that you know where your money goes every month; I guarantee it’ll surprise you if this is your first time doing this exercise!
Saving money is just like any other habit—the key is consistency. If you can stick with your savings plan and practice it consistently for 100 days straight, your savings will grow over time, and you’ll be amazed at what a difference it makes!
- Be creative with your spending.
One of the best ways to save more money is to get creative with where you spend it! If, for instance, certain items are must-haves for you each month (such as groceries), try shopping around at different stores instead of sticking with one brand or store all the time.
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You also might want to examine areas where there may be hidden savings opportunities for you. For example, are there any underutilized subscriptions or memberships in recent months? Use Trim to cancel those unused subscriptions automatically.
- Spend less than you make. No matter how much income comes in, always spend less than you earn (and save any additional income like bonus checks or tax refunds).
It doesn’t matter what amount we’re talking about here (it could be $1) as long as the number exceeds 0; by following this rule over time, it’ll be a lot easier for savings goals to progress rapidly towards completion (without needing multiple paychecks just for one goal).
Related articles about how to save money fast:
- Make saving more fun by being creative about earning extra money where you can—and then saving that extra money!
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All the recommended resources about making easy money are FREE to use. If you use one or some of them today, you’ll start increasing your savings in no time and have more money for your 100 envelop challenge.
Pros And Cons Of The 100 Envelope Challenge
Now you know what the 100 envelope challenge is and how it works, you might wonder, “Is this challenge worth doing?” Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of this challenge.
Pros of the 100 envelope challenge:
- It’s easy to get started.
- You can save a significant amount of money ($5,050) in just a few months. That’s a pretty big PRO. The numbers speak for themselves! That might be enough money to pay off your credit card debt or take an all-expenses-paid trip abroad!
- The challenge is flexible. If necessary, you can adjust your savings plan based on your financial situation.
- Being consistent can help you develop good money habits.
- You’ll become more conscious of your spending habits. This challenge can help break old spending habits and develop new ones. Also, thinking twice about purchases gives you time to ask yourself if something is worth the price tag or not, which could help you avoid overspending on something frivolous later on down the road.
- It also gives you a little boost of motivation when you see your savings grow.
- You’ll have a sense of achievement once you complete the challenge successfully and be more confident with your financial situation.
Cons of the 100 envelope challenge:
- It requires self-discipline.
- You won’t earn any interest by putting your cash in envelopes for 100 days.
- You will need extra cash on hand to start the 100 envelop challenge.
Does The 100 Envelope Challenge Work?
The 100 envelope challenge is one of the most popular money challenges. But is the 100-day envelope challenge for me?
Although you get to choose how much money you want to save each day (as long as it’s between $1 and $100), you don’t want to start this challenge if you are struggling to make ends meet. Instead, you can find ways to increase your income first (review the previous section).
If you’re a person who wants to save extra money and develop good money habits along the way, the envelope challenge will work well for you.
Alternatively, if you prefer an easy way without having to think about it and still reap all the great savings benefits, a better option may be to set up an automatic transfer from your checking account into a high-interest savings account (such as the CIT bank).
So you won’t be tempted to spend that cash on something else and earn interest while your hard-earned money is safely tucked away.
There are many benefits to having a CIT Savings Builder account:
- 0.45% interest (Earn 7X the national average rate)
- No additional fees
- $100 minimum deposit
- FDIC insured = Secure
How Much Money Do You Save With The 100 Envelope Challenge?
How much money do you get from the 100 envelope savings challenge?
At the end of the 100 days, you’ll have saved $5,050! That’s enough to buy a fancy new mattress or a first-class plane ticket to somewhere on your bucket list.
But not everyone has that kind of money set aside. So, what do you do if you want to try this challenge with a tight budget?
Well, don’t worry about it too much! There are other variations that can help motivate you to save and make small steps towards building good financial habits (more on this later).
- Remember that this is a savings endeavor, not a spending exercise.
- Start with the end in mind—your goal—and use it as motivation to get started.
- Be creative, but keep it simple. Keep it consistent and stick to your plan.
- The 100 envelope challenge can be customized.
How To Do The 100 Envelop Challenge Digitally
If the idea of stuffing dollar bills in envelopes doesn’t appeal to you, you can go digital with the 100 envelope challenge.
You only need two steps to do the 100 envelop challenge digitally.
Step 1: Choose a number and transfer the amount into a separate savings account (the 100 Envelop Challenge) every day.
You can easily see how much money is saved online.
Step 2: Use a 100 envelop challenge tracker to monitor your progress.
You don’t have to create a spreadsheet or download a 100 envelop challenge app. Simply use a tracker to visualize your progress and stay motivated throughout the process.
Alternatively, if you want to put saving money on autopilot, you can automate your savings contributions (like $50.5 a day) so they go straight into your high-yield account each month without requiring extra effort on your part. If this amount is too high, you can do $20 a day first and set aside additional amounts when things calm down later in life.
If you plan on doing the 100 envelope challenge multiple times (and why wouldn’t you?!), then I’d highly recommend setting up an online account now so that when it’s time to roll over into your next cycle, all of your hard-earned money is working for you!
Different Ways To Do The 100 Envelope Challenge
One of the great things about the 100 envelope challenge is that you can adjust it to fit your lifestyle, budget, and goals. There are a few variations on this challenge, each of which helps you achieve your financial goals in different ways.
1. If $5,050 seems like a lot of money to save at once, you can start small and build up your stash over time.
- $2/day for 100 days = $200 saved
- $5/day for 365 days = $1,825 saved
- $10/day for 50 days = $500 saved
2. You could do 50 envelopes for $100 a day and end up with $5,000. Or, maybe you want to do only 75 envelopes over 100 days and save $3,750.
3. Instead of saving for 100 days straight, you could take a break in the middle and make it a 200-day envelop challenge.
4. You can do the challenge twice!
5. You don’t even have to do this alone! Find someone else to join you! It’s even more fun and encouraging to do the 100-day money challenge with a partner or family member.
6. If you feel ambitious and want to save more than $5,050 in 100 days, you can increase your daily amount and continue adding it until you hit your financial goal.
Most importantly, you have kick-started your savings journey. As long as you don’t stop, your savings account is growing every day.
More Money Challenges For You To Try
Apart from the 100 envelop challenge, there are many creative money challengings to help you save more money.
Here are a few popular ones.
52-Week Savings Challenge
For this money challenge, you’ll be saving a different amount every week of the year.
You start with $1 and increase by $1 per week. This means you put $2 in the second week, $3 in the third, and so on.
By the end of the 52nd week, you’d have $1,378—and that’s not even factoring in interest if you go digital.
Bonus: If you want to get creative with this challenge, do the reverse 52-week money challenge. Sometimes it’s easier to start with a big number. Start with $52 in week one and subtract one dollar each subsequent week until you get down to just one dollar in week 52.
The beauty of this challenge is that you can start at any week of the year and save consistently for 52 weeks.
Keep All the Change Challenge
This challenge will help you make the most of your loose change. When you get your change back from any cash transaction, put it in a money jar or a cool piggy bank. Any kind of coin will work—pennies, nickels, dimes, etc.
If you don’t use much cash anymore (I hear you), try Acorns instead to accomplish this goal! It’s a free app that rounds up each purchase you make on linked cards to the nearest dollar. (e.g., If something costs $3.50, it’ll round up to $4.) And then it’ll invest that amount into a diversified portfolio it creates for you.
Over time, you’ll find that you have quite a lot of money at the end of the year.
It’s easy to forget what we already have and end up buying the same item twice. (Hello again, bacon and artichoke.) Or, you might find yourself stranded at a grocery store when your pantry is at home doing nothing.
A pantry challenge is a great way to save money on food and utilize what you’ve got first before buying more. It also encourages you to plan ahead for meals (and prevents overspending).
The idea behind the pantry challenge is that you use up all the food in your pantry, fridge, and freezer before buying more groceries. For many people, this means adopting a new meal planning routine with only the items on hand that can be used in recipes. It encourages creativity, less waste, and more mindfulness about how much money goes into feeding yourself or your family each day.
The no-spend challenge is a way to mindfully eliminate wasteful spending by not spending money (or as little as possible) for a set amount of time. Don’t worry; you still pay your bills and buy groceries. But anything that isn’t a necessity (like eating out, shopping, entertainment, and subscriptions) is off the table.
You can do this challenge for a weekend, a month, three months, or even a year. Save all discretionary income during this time by eliminating all unnecessary purchases, and stash the money away in a savings account. The best part is that the fewer unnecessary things you have in your life, the less time and energy it takes to maintain them—giving you more time for yourself!
Final Thoughts On The 100 Envelope Challenge
If you’re trying to build an emergency fund, save for Christmas presents, pay off debt or save for a goal like buying a car or going on vacation, the 100 envelope challenge is a great way to save over five grand in less than four months.
What’s even better is that it helps you develop a habit of saving and encourages you to track your spending.
Now all that’s left is getting started! If you need some help along the way, check out all the free resources linked to in this post.
Enjoyed this article? Don’t forget to share it with a friend. You might even invite them to your 100 envelop challenge.
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