The Complete Guide to the 100 Envelope Challenge + (Free Printable)

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The 100 envelope money challenge is a fun challenge you can do to save more money. It starts with 100 numbered envelopes from 1-100 written on each envelope. Each day, you’ll pick an envelope and put the amount of cash equal to the number written on the envelope, inside. You continue until all 100 envelopes are filled– leaving you with $5,050 saved.

Stack of blank envelopes shot as a texture.

What is the 100 Envelope Challenge?

The 100 envelope challenge is a money saving challenge idea where you save just over $5000 by the end of the challenge. It’s super easy to get started. You grab a bunch of envelopes, labeling each of them from 1 to 100. Then each day you grab a random envelope and deposit the number written on the front of the envelope.

Why do the 100 envelope challenge?

If you struggle with the motivation or consistency to save money, a challenge can be a fun way to motivate yourself into cultivating a saving habit. Plus, at the completion of the challenge you have a relatively large sum of money (that you saved in a relatively short period of time) that you can use to reach financial goals like creating an emergency fund, or saving for a house down payment.

Does the 100 Envelope Challenge Work?

Yes, it absolutely can work– a little over $5000 in just under 4 months— if you are consistent with it. The key here is to make checking in with your money a habit and to stay on top of the challenge.

female hands sliding hundred dollar bills into a white envelope

How Does The 100 Envelope Challenge Work?

The 100 envelope challenge is pretty straightforward. Here’s the ultra simple beginner’s guide to how the 100 envelope challenge works:

  1. Number your envelopes from 1 to 100.
  2. Mix up the envelopes until they are completely out of order.
  3. Place the envelopes in a container of some sort.
  4. Each day, select an envelope.
  5. Set aside the amount of cash (or transfer that amount if you want to make it digital) equal to the number written on the envelope.

How Much Money Do You Get After the 100 Envelope Challenge?

You’ll save $5,050 in 100 days with the 100 envelope challenge. You put a random amount of money between $1 and $100 in an envelope every day for 100 days. To start, label 100 envelopes 1 to 100. Each day, pull an envelope randomly and put in the amount of money equal to the number on the envelope.

Pros and cons of the 100 envelope challenge

Who doesn’t want more money in their savings account? But as with anything there are definitely pluses and minuses.

So let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of using the 100 envelope challenge.

Here are the pros and cons of the 100 envelope challenge.

Pros

  • You have a clear cut plan to save money.
  • A saving challenge is a good way to cultivate good saving habits.
  • You’ll be saving a substantial amount of money in a short amount of time that you can put toward your savings goals.
  • It’s a pretty fun and easy way to save.

Cons

  • Since the envelope selection is random you might pull several high dollar envelopes multiple days in a row.
  • If you aren’t already on top of your money or you have a tight budget, this could be extra stress on your financial situations.
  • You won’t be earning any interest on the cash as it sits in envelopes for several months
  • You run the risk of having cash sitting around–like theft or loss.
Female hand holding coloured and white envelope with green background and arrows around

Challenge Variation Options

One of the great things about money saving challenges is their ability to be customized to meet your budget. If you are on a tight budget perhaps committing to a challenge for such a long period of time isn’t feasible. Or perhaps you need more stable, even deposits with less money because you don’t have a lot of money after your bills are paid each paycheck– no problem.

Don’t be discouraged if one particular savings challenge doesn’t work perfectly for you, get creative and make something that works for you and is sustainable

Remember, one of the pros of these challenges is to cultivate a habit of savings– so even if you just save a few dollars– you are still saving money. Yes, saving money is the goal outcome, but remember you’re also trying to cultivate new money habits.

Let’s take a look at a few ways you could modify this savings challenge to make it work for you:

  • Create 100 envelopes of 5’s. This will help you save $500. It’s not as aggressive as the original challenge but still very doable.
  • Instead of doing this challenge over 4 months, why not make it a 52-week challenge? The benefit of giving yourself more time to save. Since there are 52 weeks in a year, you could draw 2 envelopes a week and then pull the other two on a week you find a little extra cash.
  • Keep your envelopes in number order, but pick which one’s you’ll fill. This way you’ll have more control over when you can deposit the highest dollar amount envelopes.
  • Use 100 envelopes in pairs of numbers. Choose whatever denominations seem doable to you and create pairs of envelopes to pull each week. Like $10’s and $5’s or $20’s and 10’s. Whatever you think you will be able to sustain.
  • Make it digital. If you just can’t with the thought of having this much cash laying around, why not open up a savings account and make deposits putting aside the money without having to pull money out of your bank account?
  • Stuff your spare cash. At the end of each day or week (depending on how you budget) you could stuff your remaining cash into that weeks envelope. Or if you are doing a digital version, you transfer from your checking account to a separate savings account. You will probably have seen something similar when people collect their spare change in a savings jar.

How can I save $5,000 in 6 months with envelopes?

You can adopt the envelope challenge just allowing yourself more time to complete it. There are just over 180 days in 6 months. If you save $28 each day (of the 180 days) you’ll have just over $5000.

Another option would be to create 25 envelopes (180 days/7 days a week gives you 25 weeks) and to save $200 each envelope, each week.

How Can I Save $5,000 in 3 months?

You can save $5,000 in 3 months by doing doubling what happened above. To be honest, there are about 90 days in 3 months which is already pretty close to the traditional 100 envelope challenge– you could just add a few extra dollars each envelope to make it work.

Or break the $5000 into weekly savings goals for the 12 weeks of the challenge (about $417 a week).

What You Need To Do The 100 Envelope Challenge

The good news is this challenge doesn’t really require a ton to get set up– more than likely you’ll have most of what you need sitting around your house.

  • 100 Envelopes – I really love the colorful ones because it just makes everything more fun
  • Pen or Marker – For writing the envelope number
  • Cash (you can withdraw a certain amount each paycheck or run to the bank each day as needed)
  • Something to store the envelopes in.

Free Printable Envelope Challenge Tracker

An easy way (not to mention a fun way!) you can track your progress is with an envelope challenge tracker.

So how does the envelope challenge tracker work?

As you can see by the picture, there are 100 envelopes on a page and as you move through your envelopes, you can track both how many envelopes you’ve opened as well as how much money you’ve saved. You can annotate the amount saved and then color in one of the envelopes on the free printable.

If you love visuals and a little fun, be sure to grab your free printable envelope challenge tracker below.

Printable tracker for 100 envelope money saving challenge

Wrapping Up the 100 Envelope Challenge

If you are looking for an effective way to improve your financial situation, check out the 100 Envelope Challenge.

Whether you are looking to put away a little extra money to improve your net worth, want to save up for a few big purchases, or simply want enough money– to finally take a vacation, the great thing about this envelope savings challenge is that they can work for anyone– either as is or with a few modifications.

Have you started your challenge yet?

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