If saving money seems impossible, consider trying a money-saving challenge, such as an envelope-saving challenge. It’s tough, but it can be a great way to instill new savings habits and help you achieve your savings goals.
What Is the 100 Envelope Saving Challenge?
You’ve likely heard of the viral 100 Envelope Saving Challenge going around on social media, especially TikTok. The challenge requires you to save a certain amount of money from $1 – $100 daily, depending on the envelope you pick. If you do it right, at the end of 100 days or a little over 3 months, you’ll have $5,050 saved.
How Does It Work?
The 100 envelope challenge isn’t easy. First, you must be good at saving money and willing to sacrifice in some cases. Here’s how it works.
- Buy or gather 100 envelopes.
- On each money envelope, write the numbers 1 – 100 (one on each)
- Place the envelopes in a bucket and shuffle them around
Each day, you pick an envelope from the bucket. The number on the outside of the envelope is the amount of money you should put in it, seal it up and put away.
For example, on Sunday, you pull the 20 envelopes to put $20 in it and put it away. You pull the 1 envelope on Monday, so put $1 away. Keep doing this every day for 100 days until you have filled each envelope.
If you’re putting money away as directed, in exactly 100 days, you’ll have $5,050 saved, which can be a nice down payment on a house, money to buy a car or to take a nice vacation.
Reasons to Try the 100 Envelope Challenge
As we said, this money-saving challenge isn’t for the faint of heart. You must be committed to putting money away every day, sometimes a lot of it.
While the most you’d have to save is $100 at a time, if you are unlucky enough to pull all high dollar amount envelopes in a row, it can get hard to save the money.
Despite the challenge of saving daily for 100 days, there are many reasons to try the 100 Envelope Challenge.
Builds Good Saving Habits
If saving money isn’t something you’ve mastered, this money-saving challenge can be a great way to start. You’ll get in the daily habit of saving money, thinking about your purchases, and having money saved for larger or long-term goals.
Challenges Are Fun
Save money challenges can be fun. If you’re bored or find yourself in a rut, this can be a great way to shake things up. You won’t be able to spend money as freely as before. Now you’ll have to think about your financial goals, how much cash you’re saving, and if you’ll have extra money to spend on luxuries or ‘wants.’
You’ll be More Intentional
Think about your spending habits right now. If you’re like most people, you spend and don’t think about it. If that leaves you without the extra cash you hoped you had or you don’t meet your savings goals, the hundred envelope challenge can make you more intentional, which can pass down to other aspects of your life too.
You’ll Have an Emergency Fund
If you haven’t started an emergency fund yet, or your fund could use even more money, this challenge can help you fund it. Earmark the cash for your emergency fund and put it away in a high yield savings account where you won’t touch it. Remember, your emergency fund is only for emergency expenses that occur because of job loss, falling ill, or other devastations that leave you without income for a while.
Envelope Saving Challenge Pros and Cons
Like any money-saving challenge, the 100 Envelope Saving Challenge has its pros and cons. Here’s what you should know.
You’ll Save Money
The whole point of the challenge is to save money. If you pull one envelope a day and put the required amount of cash inside, you’ll have money set aside for a financial goal, emergency fund, or even something fun. In addition, you’ll implement new savings habits in your life.
Some money-saving challenges are complicated, causing most people to stop doing them long after starting them. The 100 Day Envelope Challenge, however, is simple. All you need are envelopes, a marker, and the ability to pull an envelope from your collection each day. If you put enough cash in each envelope daily, you’ve mastered the challenge.
The Challenge Is Customizable
Saving up to $100 a day every single day can be challenging. But, if you can’t keep up the habit or it gets too expensive to save that much, there are many challenge variation options to make the challenge more accessible and still doable.
It Can Be Hard if You’re on a Strict Budget
If you live paycheck-to-paycheck, coming up with even more than a few dollars a day can feel difficult. If you pull envelopes with a high number on them, you may find that you can’t stick to the challenge, or you lose motivation because you can’t make it happen.
Your Money Doesn’t Earn Interest
If you don’t have your money in a bank or investment account, you could lose interest or earnings. Leaving your envelopes filled with the money set aside somewhere in your home may feel like you’re saving, but without the cash in your bank account or another interest-bearing account, you could be losing money.
It Can Be Hard to Budget
Even if you don’t live paycheck-to-paycheck and you have more money to put aside, not knowing how much you need to put in an envelope each day can make budgeting slightly tricky.
How Much Money Do You Save On the 100 Envelope Challenge?
Here’s the best part about the 100 Envelope Challenge. If you stick to it and put the right amount of money in the envelopes each day, you’ll have $5,050 saved. Saving $5,000 in a little over three months is certainly something to be proud of, and it can instill even better financial habits that, if you carry on for an entire year, can lead to significant savings.
People Best Suited for 100 Envelope Challenge
Anyone can do the 100 Envelope Challenge, but not everyone is best suited for it. For starters, you need extra money. If you don’t have the money you can save, or your income isn’t enough to cover more than your bills, you may find this challenge to be more than you can handle.
But, if you have extra money, are in search of a way to save more money, and fit the following criteria, it could be a good challenge for you:
- You don’t have a lot of high-interest debt. However, if you have a lot of credit card debt or any debt with an APR of 10% or higher, pay the debt off first before putting the money away in the challenge.
- You need better saving habits. If you have money to save but forget or just don’t think about it, this challenge could help change your practices.
- You have a specific financial goal to reach. Saving money in cash envelopes and putting them away for a financial goal can be the perfect way to achieve your goals.
100 Day Money Challenge Variations
This is one of the tough money-saving challenges we said earlier. So if you find it too hard to save money and put it in an envelope each day, here are some great variations.
- 52-week challenge – Instead of pulling an envelope daily, pull an envelope twice a week. With this money-saving challenge, you’ll create envelopes with the numbers 1 – 104 on them, and twice a week, you’ll pull an envelope and put money in them.
- Weekly challenge – You can pare down the challenge above and pick envelopes once a week versus twice a week. Instead of 104 envelopes, though, you’d have just 52.
- Change the number of envelopes – The way this money-saving challenge works, you can make any variation of envelopes you want. So if you wish to pick them once a month, every other day, or any variation you want, you can make it yours.
- Pick the envelope you can afford – This idea makes it even easier to budget for your savings. You pick the envelope with the dollar amount you can fill without going over your budget. It still creates the savings habit without the stress of going over your budget.
Digital Money Challenge
If paper envelopes aren’t your thing or you don’t operate in cash often, consider the digital money challenge. This is the same as the hundred envelope challenge, but you send the money to your savings account electronically instead of filling envelopes.
It may seem difficult to pull envelopes if you do it digitally, but you can do it in a couple of ways:
- Create cards with the numbers 1 – 100 on them and mix them up in a hat or bucket
- Use a random number generator online to draw numbers for you
- Create a spreadsheet with the numbers and randomly choose one by closing your eyes and moving your mouse. Then, cross out the number you use and do the same thing each time.
What Is the 30 Day Envelope Challenge?
Like we said earlier, you can vary the 100 envelope challenge however you see fit, including a 30-day challenge. So rather than 100 days, you can save for 30 days. Like the 100 day challenge, you create an envelope with the numbers 1 – 30 on them, putting the corresponding amount of cash in each envelope as you draw them.
What You Need to Begin
The 30-day envelope challenge works just like the 100-day challenge. All you need to start are envelopes, a marker, and the motivation to save money daily.
It can feel stressful or overwhelming to save every day, but if the thought of saving $500 in just 30 days entices you, it’s worth it.
Here are a few quick tips to make it easier:
- Find ways to cut back on expenses, such as cutting back on stopping at Starbucks or making impulse buys at the store.
- DIY as much as you can at home versus paying for services or unnecessary items.
- Use cashback apps to make money back on the purchases you must make.
- Use reward credit cards to earn a percentage of your spending back.
- Stick to a strict budget that allows you to save every day.
Why Participate in the 30 Day Envelope Savings Challenge?
The 30 Day Envelope Challenge can help you feel accomplished. We like it because it’s a starter for the 100 envelope challenge. It’s less overwhelming to think about saving for 30 days versus 100 days, right? If all goes well, who knows, you may want to try your hand at the 100 envelope challenge too.
Other Challenges and Money Saving Ideas
The 100 envelope challenge isn’t the only money challenge out there. Here are a couple of other popular challenges.
If you pay in cash often, do the $5 challenge for the year. Commit to saving every $5 bill you have. This means each time you make a purchase and receive a $5 bill, put it in a jar or shoebox, saving them all until the end of the year. You’ll be surprised at how much you can save.
With this 52-week money challenge, you save the amount of money that’s equal to the week of the year every week. For example, for the first week, you’d save $1. In week 2, you’d save $2. By the end of the year, you’d save $52 and have a total of $1,378 saved.
The Bottom Line
Any money challenge you can participate in can help you save money. Not only will you have more money to do what you want, but you’ll instill better savings habits in yourself. Even if you pull one envelope a week versus daily, you’re getting yourself into the habit of putting money aside to save in the bank, for fun, or just to have more money.
Samantha uses her BS in Finance and MBA to help others control their finances through budgeting, saving, investing, side hustles, and travel hacking. Due to following the FIRE Movement’s principles, she was able to quit her high-stress job in the financial services industry in July 2019 to pursue her side hustles. She is now a full-time entrepreneur, freelancing coach, and blogger.