While saving money is always a smart idea, sometimes it can be difficult to motivate yourself to set aside a chunk of cash every paycheck. So if you struggle with saving every month, you might want to try out a savings challenge, like the 100-day envelope challenge.
With this challenge, you can end up saving over $5,000 in just 100 days!
Ready? Let's get into it!
What is the 100-day envelope challenge?
It’s a popular idea to help participants save money in an easy and fun way. This trend uses envelopes to save various amounts of money over 100 days.
Who would benefit from a 100-day envelope challenge?
Nearly anyone can benefit from the challenge, as the average American has only $62,000 in savings.
And while that could seem like a lot, keep in mind that experts recommend keeping three to about six months of your typical expenses for emergencies.
In addition, that doesn’t count savings for things like a car, a down payment on a house, or an upcoming trip.
If you want to save money but struggle to set some aside each month, then you could benefit from the 100-day envelope savings challenge. It can be the perfect solution to save a large amount of cash in a short amount of time.
The 100-day challenge could work well if you:
- Have a big purchase coming up
- Want to jumpstart paying off your student loans
- Need to save money for the holiday season
- Have a vacation planned that you want to save for
- Want to save an emergency fund fast
- Need a simple yet effective way to save for financial goals
Why should you do the 100 envelope savings challenge?
If you don’t have much in your savings account or have a big expense coming up that you need to save up for, then the 100-day envelope challenge might be a good option for you.
In addition, if money management is difficult for you, the envelope money challenge can be a good place to start.
Many Americans have struggled to keep up with their savings lately. The average amount in personal savings has dropped significantly recently, according to a study by Northwestern Mutual.
So taking part in the 100-day money challenge can help you maintain or even build up your savings.
Can you really save $5,000 with the 100 envelope savings challenge?
Yes, you absolutely can! Here are the details:
How it works
You take 100 envelopes and label them with a dollar amount of 1 to 100. Mix them up in random order and each day you pick one.
Depending on the number you pick, you put the cash in the envelope and set it aside.
For example, if you draw the number 15 envelope one day, you would put $15 cash in the envelope, seal it, and set it aside. If another day you draw the number 7 envelope, you put in $7, and so on.
Each filled envelope can be set aside somewhere safe in order to reach your savings goal.
In a few short months, you could end up saving over $5,000 if you stick to the challenge every day. However, if you don’t do the challenge every day, it could take you longer to complete it.
Over the course of 100 days (which is a little over 3 months), you'll save $5,050.
If you choose to do the envelopes in order, then your savings would look something like this:
Day 1 - save $1, $1 saved
Day 2: Save $2, $3 saved
Day 3: Save $3, $6 saved
And so forth, until you reach the last envelope. Of course, if you choose numbers randomly, then your savings rate could be entirely different. For example:
Day 1: Save $20, $20 saved
Day 2: Save $10, $30 saved
Day 3: Save $5, $35 saved
Just know that whatever way you choose to save, you will eventually reach your goal of $5,050.
You can also decide to spread the days out a bit, for example not doing the challenge on the weekends. It would take you longer to complete the 100-day envelope challenge but would allow you to spend that extra cash on some other things.
As another alternative to saving cash, you could add the amount of money to a specific savings account each day, instead of an envelope. It might be a more convenient, as well as a safer way to store your money.
The challenge can help you save money but only if you stick with it. If you love games and challenges, it could be the motivation you need to start developing a savings habit.
What you need for a successful 100 envelope savings challenge
There's a minimal amount of supplies needed for this. To start off the challenge the right way, you'll need:
- A box of envelopes (at least 100. Colorful envelopes can be fun too!)
- Something to write with like a marker or pen
- A place to keep the envelopes like a basket or a storage box
- An envelope challenge tracker: You can make your own by writing in a notebook or binder, or keeping a note in your phone if you don't want to look for a printable or buy one.
Pros and cons of the 100 day envelope challenge
There are a number of benefits to the challenge, although it might not be for everyone. Here are some of the good and not-so-good things about the challenge:
Here are the things that make the 100 envelope savings challenge great. After reading this, you might want to give this fun challenge a try!
Makes saving easy and fun
Who doesn't love a good game? If you are competitive and love playing games, this challenge could be the motivation you need to start saving.
Doesn’t require much money to start
Some days you'll just need $1 or $2. The most you'll need in one day is $100. And the materials to get started are super easy to get too. You'll just need some envelopes, a pen, something to write on, and of course, cash.
Can adjust it to fit your spending habits
If you can't afford to put aside cash every day, you can adjust the 100 day envelope challenge to fit your lifestyle.
You can take weekends off or decide to postpone the challenge by a week or two if you need to. There's a lot of flexibility with how you save, and you'll still eventually reach your goal.
Here are the things that aren't as convenient about this challenge. Keep these in mind if you choose to try it out.
You need to use cash, which not everyone has on hand these days
The biggest downside to the 100-day envelope challenge is that you need to use cash to do it. Not everyone likes to use cash or has it handy. If you prefer going digital, you might want to consider one of the other challenges below.
Takes just over three months to complete at a minumum
The savings challenge takes a few months to complete. To get the full benefits, you'll need to work on the challenge nearly every day for at least three months or longer.
May not be the best strategy for people living paycheck to paycheck
If you don't have a lot of spare cash every day, this money savings challenge might not be for you.
Instead, look for challenges that require less cash up front, such as the penny savings challenge (more on that below).
Other money-saving challenges to try instead
There are quite a few money-saving challenges and the 100-day envelope challenge is just one of them.
It might not be for everyone, so check out some of these other money-saving ideas to see which one would work for you:
The 52-week challenge
With the 52-week challenge, you save a specific amount of money each week for a total of 52 weeks or one year. You start by saving $1 in the first week, then add $1 for each subsequent for a final total of $1,378.
The 30 day no spend challenge
This challenge is to keep you from overspending. You commit to a specific time frame, like a month, and only spend money on things you need.
That means no shopping trips or buying extras like coffee, eating out, or anything nonessential.
$5 savings challenge
Another fun money-saving challenge that is similar to the 100 day envelope challenge is the $5 savings challenge.
In this challenge, every time you get a $5 bill, you save it for 90 days. At the end of three months, you should have a sizable amount saved up.
Penny savings challenge
The penny savings challenge is easy to follow. You start by saving a penny on day one, then add an extra penny each day for a whole year. By the year's end, you’ll have saved a total of $667.95!
Coffee break challenge
Do you love your coffee breaks? Instead of buying a latte, set up a piggy bank and put the money in a jar every time you make your coffee at home.
The challenge encourages you to save money on those costly drinks and you could end up saving a few hundred a year!
30-day minimalist challenge
The minimalist challenge encourages you to get rid of something every day. While it’s not a savings challenge per se, it can help you focus less on spending and more on enjoying the things you already have.
Try the 100-day envelope challenge today!
If you need a simple and fast way to save a few thousand dollars, then try the 100 day envelope challenge. It requires few supplies and takes very little time to complete each year.
And once you’re done, you’ll have saved over $5,000! Plus it can help you get in the habit of saving and building up your emergency savings fund.
Once you save up that money, you might be wondering what to do with it. Clever Girl Finance has multiple articles about investing, frugal living, and growing your money.
And no matter what, make sure you have a plan for your finances so you can achieve your goals!