Saving money may be easier said than done. Although you might plan on building your savings, it’s easy for life to get in the way. Sometimes, the best way to get started is by committing to a savings challenge, and the 200 envelope challenge is a great option.
Let’s explore what the challenge is and how you can give it a try.
What is the 200 envelope challenge?
The end goal of the 200 envelope challenge is to save $5,100 in 200 days. As you move through the challenge, you can build a habit of saving some money every single day.
How it works
The process starts by labeling four sets of 50 envelopes with the numbers 1 through 50. During each day of the challenge, you select a random envelope. The number on the envelope represents the amount of money you should save that day.
For example, let’s say you draw an envelope with the number 20 on it. You would save $20 that day. You can put the cash funds into the envelope.
At the end of 200 days, you’ll have saved $5,100.
Benefits of the 200 envelope challenge
Saving money isn’t always easy. The 200 envelope challenge offers a way to kickstart your savings habit.
In contrast to the 100 envelope challenge, you’ll have more time to come up with the funds throughout the process.
While the 100 envelope challenge is popular, it’s also challenging for many. When you number 100 envelopes, the upper end of those envelopes can put a crunch on your wallet.
For example, saving between $51 and $100 per day is difficult for most of us.
In contrast, the 200 envelope challenge only requires you to save up to $50 per day. With that, you have more time to spread out the savings goal.
When you opt for 200 envelopes, the cash envelope system challenge is less aggressive than the 100 envelope challenge. But the end result of saving over $5,000 is the same.
If you are concerned about making it work in only 100 days, don’t hesitate to give yourself extra breathing room.
With either option, you’ll still be making your way toward savings. But with the extra time, you might be more likely to stay the course.
Building up to over $5,000 in savings isn’t necessarily a walk in the park. It’s natural for saving money to feel like a challenge. In fact, nearly half of Americans have less than $1000 saved.
When you spread out the savings goal over 200 days, you can enjoy the relatively slow build up to a tidy amount of savings.
While it’s tempting to opt for a compressed timeline, that’s not always a realistic option. Consider your capacity for saving.
If you are struggling to save, the 200 day challenge might give you the breathing room you need while building up your savings.
Make progress and build savings habits
Saving money is an essential habit for building a bright financial future. Regardless of the timeline you choose, you will be saving money.
Any money-saving challenge you choose is temporary. But the lessons learned along the way can help you build a savings habit that lasts.
What you need to set up your 200 envelope challenge
If you want to get started, it’s easy to set up this challenge.
Supplies you need for the traditional method
For savers who prefer physical envelopes, start by gathering 200 envelopes. You’ll also need a marker. And stickers or tape to seal the envelopes might come in handy.
With the materials in hand, number four sets of 50 envelopes with the numbers 1 through 50.
Supplies you need for a digital method
Each day, you can put the appropriate amount of money into your savings account. Every 50 days, you’ll need to either run through the order of numbers again or create another string of random numbers.
With either method, you’ll build your savings. The choice between a digital or physical challenge is entirely up to you.
Tips to be successful with a 200 envelope challenge
Everyone loves the feeling of accomplishing a challenge. Below you’ll find some ideas to help you reach the finish line.
Don’t stress out too much
When completing the challenge, remember that this is entirely optional. The challenge should offer a fun and motivating way to save money over time. Don’t let the challenge stress you out.
Instead, use it as a positive motivation to move toward your savings goals.
If you find yourself under too much financial stress, consider stretching out the challenge. For example, you might skip a few days to regroup before resuming the challenge. Even if it takes you longer than 200 days to save this money, it's still an impressive feat.
Pull from discretionary spending
Discretionary spending includes purchases that you can live without.
For example, keeping a roof over your head and paying for transportation to work are non-negotiable expenses. But upgrading your phone or purchasing a new outfit would be considered discretionary spending.
The first place to find funds for the challenge is your discretionary spending. Look for things that you can temporarily give up as you commit to the challenge.
Get creative to get the funds
Cuts to your discretionary spending might only get you so far. As you work through the challenge, you’ll likely need to get creative to hit your savings goals.
A few ways to get the funds include selling things around your house, picking up extra hours at work, and starting a new side hustle. Selling things from your house is often the most accessible option. But my favorite option is to start a side hustle.
Starting a side hustle can transform your financial situation. Some top side hustle options include freelancing, bookkeeping, dog walking, and selling handmade products.
A positive attitude can change everything. Even if saving money feels hard, staying positive can give you the motivation you need to keep moving forward.
One way to stay positive is by approaching the 200 envelope challenge as an opportunity. Instead of thinking of the challenge as a burden on your resources, consider it as a stepping stone toward a brighter financial future.
Give yourself extra time
If you can’t complete the challenge within 200 days, that’s okay! Life can get in the way of finishing your challenge. Instead of giving up altogether, consider giving yourself extra time to hit the savings goal.
Be realistic about your situation. And remember that saving any money at all is better than skipping the challenge.
200 envelope savings chart
Use this chart to keep track of the first 50 days of the challenge, then repeat it three more times until you reach your goal!
|Days 1 to 10||$1||$2||$3||$4||$5||$6||$7||$8||$9||$10|
|Days 11 to 20||$11||$12||$13||$14||$15||$16||$17||$18||$19||$20|
|Days 21 to 30||$21||$22||$23||$24||$25||$26||$27||$28||$29||$30|
|Days 31 to 40||$31||$32||$33||$34||$35||$36||$37||$38||$39||$40|
|Days 41 to 50||$41||$42||$43||$44||$45||$46||$47||$48||$49||$50|
Save 5k and jumpstart reaching your money goals!
The 200 envelope challenge can help you build a tidy sum. For many, the challenge serves as an opportunity to kickstart a long-term savings habit.