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How to do the 100 envelope challenge

100 envelope challenge

In order to do the 100 envelope challenge, you must store cash in numbered envelopes labeled 1 through 100. After filling all of the envelopes, you can end up saving $5,000! 

Everyone should have an emergency fund, but 36% of American consumers have absolutely no savings at all!1 But you can learn how to do the 100 envelope challenge to start saving money!  

The Basics of the 100 Envelope Challenge 

The 100 envelope challenge is a derivative of the envelope budgeting method, which is meant to help you track your spending so you can figure out how to drastically cut expenses and save money. 

The envelope budgeting method involves categorizing all of your monthly expenses and then labeling either actual envelopes or digital envelopes with all of these categories and setting limits for them. With the 100 envelope challenge, you will be focusing more on saving. It can be a lot less complicated and time-consuming than budgeting. 

Setting up This Money-saving Challenge

Setting up the 100 envelope challenge is simple; you’ll need envelopes, cash, a container to store the envelopes, and a safe space to keep your cash in. Once you have those, here is how it works: 

StepDescription
1Prepare Envelopes: Number 100 envelopes from 1 to 100.
2Mix and Store: Place the numbered envelopes in a container (like a box).
3Daily Selection: Each day, randomly select one envelope from the container.
4Deposit Cash: Put an amount of cash into the envelope equal to the number on the envelope.
5Track Progress: Remove the filled envelope from the pile and keep track of your savings.
6Repeat: Continue the process daily until all envelopes are used (100 days in total).
7Digital Option: Alternatively, use an online tracker and random number generator for a digital version of the challenge.

Adjustments You Can Make to the 100 Envelope Challenge

Not every step from the 100 envelope challenge will make sense for everyone. Here are a few other ways that you can customize the 100 envelope challenge to better suit your current savings habit: 

Switch to a Digital Account

Many people don’t use cash anymore. Although it is relatively easy to get cash when you need it, you may not be comfortable keeping thousands in cash lying around your home. The good news is that you can easily digitally transfer money into a savings account. And so, if you don’t want to work with cash when you start saving, you don’t have to.

Change the Numbers on the Envelopes to Better Fit Your Budget

When randomizing the envelope selection process, you may pull high-value envelopes a few days in a row. Let’s say you don’t really have the budget to put away that much into a savings account. Deliberately picking your envelopes is one way to avoid this. Another way is to add more envelopes but lessen the amount of money that each envelope carries. 

Extend or Shorten the Challenge

Another easy way to personalize the 100 envelope challenge is to extend or shorten the challenge however you need. For example, suppose you want to speed up the process. In that case, you can pull an envelope twice a day, twice a week, etc. If you’re going to shorten it, instead of drawing every day, maybe pull once every three days, every week, etc. 

Some Pros and Cons of the 100 Envelope Challenge 

Like other money-saving challenges, there are pros and cons to the 100 envelope challenge. Here are some to be mindful of before you pursue saving money this way: 

Pros

  • It can be a fun challenge to save some extra money 
  • This challenge can help jump-start an emergency fund and a solid savings plan.
  • There are numerous budgeting tips for beginners online.
  • Choose a challenge variation that fits your financial situation. 
  • A good start to saving regularly.
  • It can be done with an online bank account.

Cons 

  • You may not have enough money in your budget to pursue the 100 envelope challenge. 
  • It can be tempting to skip a day or use saved-up funds if you don’t have the best self-control. 
  • Randomization may not work for everyone to save money. 
  • It can take some motivation to complete the 100-day challenge.
  • Having thousands of cash lying around can be a risk.

Why Should I Do the 100 Envelope Challenge To Save Money?

The 100 envelope challenge is a great way to start saving money, especially if you don’t have a savings plan! Emergency savings are so significant to your financial health. Having that spare cash when an emergency comes up can mean the difference between getting into debt or having financial freedom. This is especially true when you have bad credit and may have to turn to high interest loan options like online payday loans or title loans when you need to borrow funds. 

Savings can help you reach major milestones in your life, like a down payment on a car or a home, without borrowing money. Some extra cash in savings can also help you stay out of debt during those expensive seasonal times, like when it is time to buy Christmas gifts or birthday celebrations. Having that extra money to use can be a huge help and cushioning for everything that happens in life! 

Other Money Management Challenges to Consider

The 100 Envelope challenge is definitely not the only challenge that can help you start saving money. Here are some other challenges that can be helpful:

  • The 52-week Challenge — This is a year-long challenge where you start with week 1 and go all the way to week 52. Each week you put away the corresponding week’s amount. 
  • The No Spend Challenge — The no-spend challenge is pretty simple; see how long you can go without spending on nonessential items. How much you save will depend on how long you can go without spending! 
  • $20 Savings Challenge — With this challenge, you save $20 every week until the end of a year. If you can keep saving those twenties each week, you will have $1,040 in savings by the end of the year! 
  • The 30-day Rule — The 30-day rule is the perfect money challenge for impulse shoppers. The rules of the challenge are simple: if there is an item you want, instead of purchasing it immediately, wait 30 days. Do some research to find out if the 30-day rule can help control spending
  • Dollar Savings Challenge — If you are looking for the most accessible way to jump-start your savings, the dollar savings challenge is perfect for you. Simply put away a dollar a day for an entire year. In 365 days, you will have $365 in your savings.
  • The Six-month Savings Challenge — To participate in the six-month savings challenge, you have to commit to doing at least one thing each week that saves money. The amount of money you save at the end of the six months is totally up to you. 

FAQs About the 100 Envelope Money Savings Challenge

Can the 100 Envelope Challenge help me build an emergency savings fund?

Absolutely! This challenge is a fantastic way to gradually build up an emergency savings nest. By consistently setting aside money, you’re actively preparing for unexpected expenses.

If I need to spend money during the money challenge, can I take it from the envelopes?

While it’s best to avoid dipping into your challenge savings, life happens. If necessary, try to only take a small dollar amount and replenish it as soon as possible to stay on track with your savings goal.

How do I decide the dollar amount to save if my income varies?

For those with fluctuating incomes, consider a modified version of the challenge. You might start with smaller amounts in each envelope and increase them as you earn more money or gain extra income.

Are there other savings challenges less intimidating than the 100 Envelope Challenge?

Yes, there are many other savings challenges that might suit different needs and goals. For example, the 52-week challenge or the Dollar Savings Challenge are popular alternatives with different structures.

How do I track the money I save during the challenge?

Keeping a simple ledger or using a savings app can help you track the money saved. Regularly updating your progress reinforces your commitment and keeps you motivated towards your savings goal.

Should I deposit the money I save from the challenge into savings accounts?

It’s a wise idea to transfer your challenge savings into your bank accounts, especially if you’re saving for a big purchase. This not only keeps your money safe but also might earn you some interest.

Can the 100 Envelope Challenge be adapted for saving towards a specific goal, like a big purchase?

Definitely! You can tailor the challenge to suit your specific savings goal. If you’re saving for a big purchase, you might want to adjust the dollar amounts in the envelopes to align with your target amount and time frame.

A Final Note From CreditNinja on 100 Envelope Challenge 

CreditNinja is a reputable online lender that has been providing financial relief since 2018. A CreditNinja personal loan offers exclusive benefits for eligible borrowers. We prioritize financial wellness, which is why we offer quick emergency cash and free articles on various personal finance topics. You can learn how to cash a check without ID, how to improve a FICO score, and much more!  

References:

  1. Americans Do Not Have Enough Savings │ NASDAQ
  2. No Spend Challenge │ MintLife Blog
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