Trying to save money can be boring sometimes, but social media trends can sure spice things up a bit. One recent meme taking the internet by storm is the 100 envelope challenge.
The 100 envelope challenge is a fun, practical, and habitual way to save money without dealing with bank rates or ad-filled saving apps. All you need are 100 envelopes—and you are well on your way to being five thousand grand richer.
This descends from an budgeting system developed by Dave Ramsey that facilitates goal-oriented savings and expense tracking. The challenge was pretty popular on TikTok, and now, everybody is talking about it.
One of the reasons I fell in love with this money-saving trend is that you can customize the plan to suit your financial situation. (Oh, and who doesn’t love a challenge?)
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What Is the 100 Envelope Challenge?
In the math world, there is a famous legend of a scholar in the 1970s who found a trick to quickly add up every pair of numbers between 0 and 100. The sum total was 5,050.
The 100 envelope challenge is a money savings challenge that helps you save over $5,000 in 100 days by putting cash in randomly numbered envelopes. The amount of cash you put in each envelope will correspond to the number on the envelope. For instance, if the number on the envelope is 94, then you will put $94 in the envelope and keep it.
You can do it with a physical envelope or a digital envelope. You can customize this challenge to suit your preferences and financial pocket.
Who Should Do This Challenge?
You should give it a try if you are:
- Keen to save money
- Spend more than you earn
- Do not have an emergency fund somewhere
- Want to have fun while saving
- Bored with your saving system
- Just got started on saving
From my experience, we all need to engage in some saving challenges once in a while to see what we can do with a bit of discipline. Nothing beats the joy of seeing how much you were able to save while also having fun.
How To Do the 100 Envelope Challenge?
1. Get your materials and tools.
If you are going for this challenge, here are the things you will need to get started:
You need to get 100 envelopes for this challenge. You can roll up the cash you keep or spread it out inside the envelope.
Use a marker to write out the numbers on the envelope because you need to number each envelope with numbers between 0-100. Make sure not to repeat any set of numbers.
- Storage box
This box is to keep the empty envelopes. Your storage box should be one you can put in an easily accessible and visible place so you won’t forget about the challenge.
- Money box
Use a money box to store the filled envelopes. You can use your piggy bank or whatever box to keep your saved money so you won't spend it all.
It is optional, but if you are a forgetful person, you will need a tracker to keep track of the used numbers and if you dropped some money that day. Several 100 envelope challenge printables are available online, so you can easily find one tailored to your taste. You can also decide to make one for yourself as well. (Here is an example)
2. Label each envelope.
You should label each envelope with the numbers 1 – 100 without doubling or missing a number.
3. Keep in a storage box.
When you are done numbering the envelopes (all 100 of them), put everything inside a storage container and shuffle it around until the envelopes are in no particular order.
4. Pick an envelope each day.
Each day, open your storage box and bring out an envelope. Try closing your eyes or using a blindfold when picking up an envelope to make it more fun, and remember to pick randomly.
5. Fill it.
Either you pick ‘Envelope 100' or ‘Envelope 2', it doesn’t matter; when you’ve picked an envelope, do not return it to the box, and no peeking. Put in the corresponding amount and close it up.
6. Keep it in your money box.
You should keep each filled envelope in your money box, and you want to ensure it is not easily accessible. Your money box can be like your piggy bank, making it easy to put your money in but difficult to bring out except if you break it.
7. Mark each day off your tracker.
This is where your tracker comes in. You want to mark the number and day off on your tracker. For instance:
Day 1 – $33
Day 2 – $92
Day 3 – $1
Day 4 – $16
and so on.
You want to make sure you are doing your challenge daily and track how much you have going.
Repeat the process all over again each day, starting from Step 4. Pick an envelope and repeat.
Pros & Cons of the 100 Envelope Challenge
- It makes saving easier. You only save $100 once, and the rest are all under that amount, so it doesn't feel like it's too much.
- It can quickly become a habit because it is something you do daily, and even when the 100 days are over, you might want other ways to try saving. Check out other money-saving challenges.
- You save over $5,000 in 100 days without even feeling it. Imagine having extra five grand in less than four months. If you do this continuously throughout the year, you can get over $15,000 for 12 months!
- Cash is easily accessible for emergencies. I know I mentioned a money box to keep filled envelopes, but there is always a way to access it in cases of emergencies.
- You can adjust to suit your financial situation by making alterations to the variables.
- It is easy to lose track of savings, especially if you are just starting.
- Because the cash is easily accessible, it is easy to tamper with saved cash before the 100 days are over.
- You can't earn interest on your cash savings. While banks can deduct from your account, they can also add to it depending on the type of account.
- Unlike automated savings apps where your money is deposited straight into an account, you can actually forget to save when you lose track of savings or decide not to save at all.
- You have to withdraw cash daily because it is a cash-based saving challenge, although there is a way to do this challenge digitally.
Other Alterations to the 100 Envelope Challenge
- Changing the amount: Instead of the corresponding amount in dollars, you can make it double, triple, or half. It depends on what rocks your boat.
- Changing the number of days: Instead of 100 days, you can do 50, 150, 200, or even 365. It all depends on you.
Note that if you change the number of days, you must also change the amount to correspond with your changes.
- Use digital envelopes.
Conclusion – 100 Envelope Challenge
If you want to save money fast without dealing with money-saving apps, trips to the bank, or a third party, this challenge is the best for you.
The truth is that most money-saving challenges are pretty effective, and the fact that it is a challenge becomes a motivation to see it to the end. You can look back, smile, and enjoy the fruits of your savings when it is over.
The 100 envelope challenge is exciting, but it is easy to lose track of your savings, tamper with the savings since they are easily accessible, and forget to pick up an envelope each day. The key is to keep the envelopes in a storage box on the top of your closet or beside your bed, get a tracker to mark off each day, and keep your filled envelopes in a saving box you cannot open.
If all these steps still do not work for you, you might want to try the digital version of the challenge.
Was this the first time you heard of this challenge? Will you give it a try? How much have you saved using this challenge, and what other saving challenges do you know?