How to do the 100 envelope challenge and save 5000

By Nooreen B
Modified on April 24, 2023
100 envelope challenge

The 100 envelope challenge is a fun and straightforward money-saving challenge. In just a few months, about 4, you could save $5,000. Keep reading for more information on the 100 envelope challenge, everything from getting things started to some of the pros and cons of this money challenge. 

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 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: 

  1. Grabbing 100 envelopes and numbering them from one to 100.
  2. Mix up all of the envelopes and store them in a container—a plastic container, shoebox, etc. 
  3. Each day, randomly choose an envelope—this is the fun part! 
  4. Based on which envelope you grab, and the number written on it, you will need to put away that dollar amount into the envelope.
  5. Remove the envelope from the rest of the pile and add cash equal to the corresponding label. And now, because the envelope has got cash inside, store it safely. 
  6. Track your progress! 
  7. Repeat this process until there are no envelopes left to choose from; it will take 100 days to complete! 

Digitally Setting up the 100 Envelope Challenge 

While having physical envelopes to pick and choose from can be a fun way to do the 100 envelope challenge, it may not be the best option for everyone. The good news is that you can start saving money through this challenge digitally. Here is how you can set up the 100 envelope challenge online: 

  1. Create or download an online 100-day envelope tracker; you can find templates on Pinterest, Facebook, and other social media platforms or through a quick Google search.
  2. Use a random online number generator, setting the parameters up to 100. Whatever number you get will be your digital envelope, and that corresponding amount will go into savings.
  3. Transfer money from your checking account into your savings; you can do this daily or weekly, depending on your banking limitations. 
  4. Track your savings on paper or view your online saving account statements to see how much you are saving. 

With this money-saving challenge method, you can save about $5,000 in about four months or 100 days! Once you hit those 100 days, and you want to continue saving money this way, you can start the process again! 

Adjustments You Can Make to the 100 Envelope Challenge

Not every step from the 100 envelope challenge will make sense for everyone. The good thing is that you can make adjustments to better fit your needs or take care of any concerns. For example, you can pick between envelopes instead of randomizing the process if you want more control over money management. Here are a few other ways that you can customize the 100 envelope challenge: 

Switch to a Digital Savings 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 money, 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. 

Wait Until the End of the Week to Stash Your Cash

Instead of storing your money in each envelope for the entire challenge, you may want to collect your cash from each envelope and put it in one—your most recent one makes the most sense. By doing this, you can easily keep track of your money without going through each envelope. On top of that, putting money into one envelope can make this money-saving challenge more fun! You can check your progress, and it can motivate you to keep going. If you are practicing this money-saving challenge digitally, transferring money from a checking account to a separate savings account multiple times a month may not be an option. So, you may have to limit deposits to once a week, etc. 

Add Some Extra Cash to Each Envelope 

Most people pursue a money challenge because they have financial goals in mind. If you want to reach those financial goals sooner than later, adding even a few extra dollars into each envelope can go a long way at the end of the challenge.  

Does The 100 Envelope Challenge Work for $5,000?

Although it may seem like a lot of money, using the 100 envelope challenge while following the standard numbering system will yield $5,000 at the end of the challenge! It may be easier to comprehend if you visualize your envelopes adding up each week instead of picturing the money being spread out into all the different envelopes. 

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: 


  • 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.
  • It can be a budget planner tool and help new budgeters get started with a financial plan.
  • Choose a challenge variation that fits your financial situation. 
  • A good start to saving regularly.
  • It can be done with an online bank account and savings account.


  • 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-saving 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. For example, if it is week one, you put $1 into savings, week two means $2 into savings, etc. You will have $1,378 saved up by the end of the year! 
  • 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. If it still seems like a good purchase after a month, go ahead and buy it. Chances are that most of those items are unnecessary, and you may even forget about wanting them altogether. Do some research to find out if the 30-day rule is right for you. 
  • 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 account. 
  • 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. This can be a great challenge when you are trying to change your spending habits and are looking for a long-term lifestyle change. The amount of money you save at the end of the six months is totally up to you. 


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