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What is the 100 envelope challenge and is it doable?

If you struggle to save money, the latest viral savings trend may just be the answer to changing your financial situation…

It is dubbed the 100 envelope challenge (or the 100 envelope money savings challenge) and the point of this envelope savings challenge is to help you save money in a fun way. Completing the challenge will help you save over $5,000.

100 envelope challenge with cash stuffed inside black envelope

You might be asking if this savings challenge is doable. Yes, it is possible, but it’s not easy and it involves saving a significant amount of money.

As someone who has personally completed the 100 envelope challenge (twice), I can tell you that this method of saving money does work but it truly does require patience, time, dedication and of course, money.

Overall, this trend is perfect for saving on a down payment for a house, paying off credit card debt, paying off student loans, saving for a big purchase such as a vacation, establishing an emergency fund, starting a savings habit, etc. The possibilities are endless!

100 envelope challenge started with cash stuffed inside black envelope

What is the 100 Envelope Challenge?

The 100 Envelope Challenge is a fun way to save money. You start with 100 envelopes and write numbers from 1 to 100 on them. Every day, pick one envelope at random. If the envelope says ‘5’, put $5 in it. Keep doing this each day. When you’ve filled all the envelopes, you’ll have $5,050 saved up!

How to Do The 100 Envelope Challenge

Step #1: Gather your supplies. You will need 100 envelopes, a black Sharpie or pen, stickers to seal the envelopes (optional), a box or container to store the envelopes (optional) and cash. If you don’t keep cash around, you can make a withdrawal at the bank or ATM or withdrawal money each paycheck to set aside for the money challenge. I also created a 100 Day Envelope Challenge Printable that you can color daily as you fill each envelope with cash to help you keep track of your progress!

Step #2: Prepare your envelopes. Take your pen or marker and write a number on the front of each envelope. Start with ‘1’ and keep going until you reach ‘100’. You can choose to keep these in numerical order or shuffle them so you are randomly choosing a number each day.

colorful envelopes numbered 1-100 for the 100 envelope challenge
100 Envelope Challenge Envelopes Numbered

Step #3: Choose an envelope to fill each day. Every day, pick one envelope. Then, put in money that’s the same as the number on the envelope. For example, if one day you draw the number 67 you would deposit $67 into that envelope and seal it. If you draw the number 3, you’d deposit $3 into that envelope and seal it and continue this for 100 days.

Step #4: Assess your accomplishment. Congratulations! You’ve completed this fun challenge. At the end of 100 days, you will have 100 envelopes filled with cash totaling $5,050.

Side note: If saving this much money in such a short amount of time is not feasible for you, you can adjust the time frame and customize the 100-envelope challenge to fit your unique financial situation. The reality is, most people don’t have extra cash lying around to complete a filled envelope every day. Some even take on side hustles and cut unnecessary spending to be able to afford to complete the challenge.

If changing this specific 100-day money challenge doesn’t work for you, give this 52-week money challenge a try instead. It still helps you save money, (a little over $1,300) but stretches the challenge over the course of a year.

If you really like the idea of using physical envelopes, try the 200 envelope challenge that still helps you save $5,000 but is over 200 days instead of 100 days.

Step #5: Decide what to do with your money. Once you’ve completed the challenge the hardest part is deciding what to do with the money. You can put the money into your checking account, a high-yield savings account or a separate savings account that will keep you from spending it until you need it. You can even use this money to start sinking funds to create savings accounts for reoccurring expenses.

Once you’ve completed the 100 envelope challenge, it is a great time to make any personal finance goals. You can start by taking a look at your spending habits such as your grocery bills and compare that with your monthly income so you can adjust your finances and make saving money a habit.

woman stuffing envelope with cash for 100 envelope challenge

Why do you use physical cash and envelopes for this challenge?

If there is one thing that I agree with Dave Ramsey on, it’s that you have more of an attachment to physical money. It’s easy to swipe a credit card and spend money but you can’t easily do the same to save money.

That is why, choosing to have physical cash that you have to use to stuff an envelope, helps keep you on track. You are less likely to spend that money like you would if it were in a checking account, and you are more likely to complete the challenge because you are attached to that money. Once you have filled that first envelope, you will understand.

Think of this way – you know how excited you were as a kid to put money into your piggy bank? It’s like that feeling every time you have a filled envelope.

What is a digital version of the 100 envelope challenge?

You can do the 100 envelope challenge digitally by depositing money into a bank account either manually or by direct deposit. Since you won’t be using physical envelopes and there isn’t a way to use digital envelopes, you can use an online random number generator to help you pull a number for that day or week. You can also use my 100 Day Envelope Challenge Printable to help you keep track of the amounts.

Don’t let the large amount of cash to complete this 100-day envelope challenge scare you away from reaching your financial goals. If this method of saving doesn’t work for you, there are many other money-saving hacks you can choose from.

Other Money Savings Challenges

100 envelope challenge completed with money in envelope

JC in S.D.

Tuesday 31st of January 2023

32 envelope challenge: just put 1 penny into the first, 2 into the 2nd, 4 into the 3rd, 8 into the 4th, and so on. In just over a month, congrats - you have $43 million!

Steve

Tuesday 31st of January 2023

Or you can just not spend $35 a day on coffee and eating out and BOOM you saved $12,775 in a year.

Tony

Tuesday 31st of January 2023

If you have to run to the bank to get the money, you already have it..lol

Suzanne Spicer

Wednesday 15th of February 2023

@Tony,that’s the same thing my daughter and I said.

Katie

Wednesday 25th of January 2023

You should mention the 365 day penny challenge. Where on day 1 you put 1 penny in the jar, on day 2 you put 2 pennies in the jar, on day 100 you put $1 in the jar, on day 365 you put $3.65 in the jar and by the end of the year you will have $667.95 which isn't even close to 5000 dollars and takes much longer but it doesn't even seem like a lot of money throughout the year, and the $667.95 could come in handy

Vicki

Saturday 18th of February 2023

@Katie, oh my gosh thank you! Not only did you give me the best idea ever, you did the math for me! I can't afford NOT to do this one!♥️

Christina Fecci

Saturday 14th of January 2023

This is a great idea that I just started, however, I’m doing it every paycheck so it will be much longer than 3 months. More like 2 years. But the end result will be worth the wait!