# 100 Envelope Challenge Explained

By Julia Califano · May 30, 2024 · 8 minute read

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Saving money can be daunting. But what if you could make it seem less like a chore and more like a game? That’s the idea behind TikTok’s viral 100 Envelope Challenge. With this popular money-saving hack, you set aside a predetermined dollar amount in different envelopes each day for 100 days. By the end of the challenge, you’ll have saved over \$5,000.

One of the appeals of the 100 Envelope Challenge is that you visually see your progress as you fill up each envelope, which can make the process of saving more tangible and fun. And like many savings challenges, this money game can help you save a sizable sum in a short period of time.

That said, the 100 Envelope Challenge may not be realistic for everyone. Here’s a closer look at how it works, its pros and cons, plus some other fun saving strategies to consider.

## What Is the 100 Envelope Challenge?

The 100 Envelope Challenge, also known as the 100-Day Money Challenge, is a savings technique that involves setting aside a specific amount of money each day for 100 days. The goal is to accumulate \$5,050 in just over three months.

The concept is simple: You start with 100 envelopes and number them from 1 to 100. On day 1 of the challenge, you put \$1 into envelope #1. On day 2, you put \$2 into envelope #2. On day 3, you put \$3 in envelope #3. You continue this pattern, increasing the amount by \$1 each day until you reach the 100th day, when you deposit \$100.

There are also variations on the game. For example, instead of stuffing envelopes in chronological order, you can shuffle the envelopes, put them in a bucket or basket, and then randomly pick one each day. This allows you to alternate between low and high cash amounts throughout the challenge.

If your budget is tight, and saving \$5,050 in 100 days isn’t feasible, you can do the 100 Envelope Challenge over 100 weeks, rather than 100 days. You’ll still get to \$5,050 — it will just take longer.

And if you’re not a fan of cash, you can do the challenge digitally. Simply download a free “100 Envelope Challenge” printable (widely available online). You then check off the “envelopes” in order (or use an online number generator to pick a random number each day). Once you’ve selected your envelope number, you transfer that amount to your savings account. If you open a high-yield savings account, you’ll have the added advantage of earning competitive interest on your cash.

## How to Do The 100 Envelope Challenge

Here’s a step-by-step guide to the original 100 Envelope Challenge.

### 1. Assemble Your Supplies

You’ll need 100 plain envelopes and a marker or pen to set up the challenge. If you don’t normally carry cash, you’ll also want to hit the ATM and withdraw some money to cover you for the first week. You’ll likely make multiple trips as you make your way through the challenge — and your paychecks get deposited.

Recommended: How to Avoid ATM Fees

### 2. Prep Your Envelopes

Label each envelope with number, starting with #1 and ending with #100. You’ll also want to find a safe place to keep your envelopes, such as a box, drawer, or safe. The idea is to keep them accessible but still secure.

### 3. Start Stuffing

Each day, pick out an envelope in chronological order (or, as an alternative, you can choose randomly) and place the corresponding amount of cash inside.

### 4. Stay Consistent

The key to any money-saving challenge is consistency, so do your best to stick to the rules as closely as you can. If you miss a few days, don’t give up — simply dust yourself off and get back on track. Or consider switching to a weekly or biweekly schedule to make the challenge more manageable.

### 5. Put Your Savings to Good Use

When you reach the finish line, it’s time to put your envelope cash to good use. For example, you might use your \$5,050 to start your emergency fund (if you don’t already have one), pay off credit card debt, or fund something fun like a vacation. Or you might use the money to get started on a larger, long-term goal, like a home down payment, kid’s college fund, or retirement savings.

## How Much Money Is Involved in the 100 Envelope Challenge?

By the end of the 100 Envelope Challenge, you will have saved a total of \$5,050. You get to this amount by progressively increasing your daily (or, if you prefer, biweekly or weekly) deposit, starting with \$1 and ending with \$100. While the amounts may seem small at first, they add up over time, demonstrating the power of consistent saving.

Recommended: 15 Creative Ways to Save Money

## Pros and Cons of the 100 Envelope Challenge

The 100 Envelope Challenge comes with both pros and cons. Here are some to consider before you decide to jump in on the trend.

### Pros of the 100 Envelope Challenge

•   Easy to start: You don’t need to comb through bank statements and set up spreadsheets to start this savings plan. All you need to get going are envelopes and some cash.

•   Visual progress: The envelopes provide a visual representation of your progress. Watching them stack up can motivate you to keep going.

•   Builds discipline: The challenge encourages regular saving habits, helping to build discipline and financial responsibility.

•   Flexible: You can adjust the challenge to fit your budget, preferences, and savings goals.

### Cons of the 100 Envelope Challenge

•   Cash-based: The default design relies on using cash, which may not be convenient for everyone.

•   Risk of loss: Keeping cash in envelopes can be risky, since they can potentially get lost or stolen.

•   It’s not all fun and games: Even though it’s a game, you’ll likely need to cut back on spending (and, yes, fun) to come up with the cash you need to stick with the program, especially near the end, when you’re stuffing large sums every day.

•   Not realistic for everyone: If your monthly essential expenses are already close to your monthly income, you might find it difficult to stick with a 100-day Envelope challenge.

## Alternatives to the 100 Envelope Challenge

While the 100 Envelope Challenge is a popular savings method, it may not be the right approach for everyone. Here are some alternatives to consider.

•   The 30-Day Savings Challenge: Here, you start with just 30 envelopes, numbered 1 through 30. Each day, you’ll save the amount indicated on the envelope you choose. You could go in order or shuffle the envelopes and randomly select one. At the end, you’ll have saved \$465.

•   The Spare Change Challenge: This involves saving the spare change from your everyday transactions. You can do it manually, by dropping your spare change into a jar each day and, once it’s filled, bringing it to the bank. Or you can do it digitally, using an app that automatically rounds up your purchases and transfers that money into savings. Either way, you’ll accumulate savings without much effort

•   No-Spend Challenge: In a no-spend challenge, you commit to not spending money on non-essential items for a set period of time, such as a week or a month. This can help you identify and eliminate unnecessary expenses, allowing you to save more money.

•   Savings Percentage Challenge: In this challenge, you commit to saving a specific percentage of your income each month, such as 10% or 20%. To make it easy, you can set up an automatic transfer from checking to savings for this amount for the same day each month (ideally right after you get paid). This can help you save consistently and build your savings over time.

Recommended: 52 Week Savings Challenge (2024 Edition)

## The Takeaway

The 100 Envelope Challenge is a simple yet effective way to save money and build financial discipline. By following the steps and sticking with the program, you can reach your savings goal and have a tangible reminder of your progress along the way.

If socking away \$5,050 in a little over three months feels too challenging, however, you might want to try one of the many other ways to gamify saving. The best approach to boosting the balance in your savings account is the one you’ll stick with.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.

Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

## FAQ

### Can I save \$5,000 in 3 months with 100 envelopes?

Yes, it’s possible to save around \$5,000 in three months with the 100 Envelope Challenge. The challenge is designed to be completed over 100 days, which is a little over three months.

How it works: You gather 100 envelopes and number them from 1 to 100. Each day you fill up one envelope with the amount of cash to match the number on the envelope.You can fill up the envelopes in order or pick them at random. After you’ve filled up all the envelopes, you’ll have a total of \$5,050 saved.

### How long does it take to complete the 100 envelope challenge?

The 100 Envelope Challenge is designed to be completed over 100 days. Each day, you deposit a specific amount of money into an envelope, starting with \$1 on day #1, and increasing by \$1 each day until you reach \$100 on day #100. By then, you’ll have saved \$5,050.

You can also choose to do the 100 Envelope Challenge over 100 weeks, filling each envelope according to the week number. In this version, you’ll save \$5,050 in a little less than two years.

### What are other money saving challenges besides the 100 envelope challenge?

There are several other money-saving challenges that you can try besides the 100 Envelope Challenge. Some popular alternatives include:

•   30-day Savings Challenge Here, you start with 30 envelopes, numbered 1 through 30. Each day, you put cash into an envelope, basing the amount on the number written on the envelope you choose. At the end, you’ll have saved \$465.

•   No-Spend Challenge With this approach, you commit to not spending any money on non-essentials for a set time period, say a week or a month. This can boost your bank account and highlight how much you spend on unnecessary purchases.

•   Savings Percentage Challenge In this challenge, you commit to saving a specific percentage of your income each month, such as 10% or 20%. If you set up an automatic transfer, you can build your savings without even thinking about it.

Photo credit: iStock/solidcolours

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