Saving money is an essential part of any financial plan. Still, it can be a difficult habit for many people to start. Finding a few extra dollars from different parts of our budget isn’t the most exciting thing on most people’s to-do lists. So what can we do to save more?
For many people, money challenges can provide that extra bit of motivation and make saving a little more interesting. For example, the 100 envelope challenge is one money challenge that could have you saving over $5000 in just 100 days! $5050, to be exact, but hey, who’s counting, right? Wait, we’re all counting when it comes to our money.
What is a Money Challenge?
Before getting into the specifics of the 100 envelope challenge, let’s quickly go over what a money challenge is. Essentially, a money challenge is a way to save money in a way that feels more like a game, or as the name states, a challenge.
There are all sorts of money challenges. There’s the 52 week money challenge, and its many variations. Other money saving challenges similar to the 100 envelope challenge might be some of the below:
- No Spend Weekend Money Saving Challenge
- Pantry Challenge Money Saving Challenge
- Little Vices Money Saving Challenge
- Five Dollars Bill Money Saving Challenge
- And Many More
When doing a money challenge, it’s essential to find one that fits your personality, budget and saving strategy. It sounds excellent to see how much you could save in theory, but if the money isn’t there, you can always tweak any challenge a bit. The important part is to form any kind of money-saving habit when doing your money challenge, like the 100 envelope challenge.
What is the Envelope Budgeting System?
The inspiration for the 100 envelope challenge comes from the envelope budgeting system. The 100 envelope system is a budgeting method to help you spend less money, commonly promoted by its creator, Dave Ramsey.
The premise of the envelope budgeting system is to have an envelope for each bill you need to pay each month. Then, you put cash into the envelopes for these bills each paycheck. Using cash to pay these bills, in theory, will help you spend less than you make.
If an envelope does not have enough cash to pay the bill when the time comes, you don’t pay the bill or must take the money you would have spent elsewhere. The idea is to focus on essential living expenses such as your mortgage, utilities, and food first. Then, once those envelopes have enough cash, anything extra can go toward non-essential or impulse spending.
How Does the 100 Envelope Challenge Work?
Ok, time to get into the 100 envelope challenge (sometimes called the 100 day money challenge, too), how it works and helps save money. The idea behind the 100 envelope challenge is straightforward to do. Here’s how to get started:
- Get Yourself 100 envelopes
- Write the numbers 1-100 on them, one number per envelope
- Mix up all the envelopes
- Pick a random envelope each day(you can use a random number generator too)
- Whatever number is on that envelope, put that much cash in it
- Put that filled envelope aside (somewhere safe!)
- Keep track of your savings
- Save $5050!
That’s it, the 100 day envelope challenge is that easy. Simply have a bunch of envelopes and put money in. When you’re down, you’ll have $5050 you can use to pay off debt, use it as a downpayment toward a car, pay off credits cards, put toward retirement accounts, create an emergency fund, or any other of the many ways to spend money wisely!
To give you an idea of what your savings would look like, here is a general breakdown of the 100 envelope challenge savings:
- After filling envelopes 1-10, you will have $55 saved
- After filling envelopes 1-25, you will have $325 saved.
- After filling envelopes 1-50, you will have $1,275 saved.
- After filling envelopes 1-75, you will have $2,850 saved.
- After filling all 100 envelopes, you will have cash equal to $5,050
What You Need to Start the 100 Envelope Challenge
Part of the beauty of the 100 envelope challenge is its simplicity in execution and setup. Below are the supplies you will need to do the 100 envelope challenge.
You can’t do the 100day envelope challenge without some envelopes. Have a least 100 (duh), but having a few spares couldn’t hurt either.
A box or Other Storage Container
One hundred envelopes might not sound like a lot, but they can certainly take up a decent amount of space. Have a box or container for both the envelopes you haven’t packed yet, especially somewhere to put the envelopes already stuffed with cash.
You have to write the numbers on the envelopes with something, right? Sharpies typically provide a nice crisp number on each envelope.
Anything You Want
.If you like plain envelopes with numbers and want to stop there, no problem. Maybe you want to spruce them up a bit. You can add stickers, more colorful markers, inspiration quotes, whatever makes the 100 envelope challenge more “you” in welcome.
Something To Keep Track of Your Progress
Keeping track of your progress is vital with money-saving challenges. For the 100 envelope challenge, you can keep track of both which envelopes have been pulled and how much you’ve saved. You can make this as simple or complex as you like.
Can I Change the 100 Envelope Challenge?
As well-intentioned as the 100 envelope challenge is, sometimes, there simply isn’t an extra 5k in your budget, no matter what you do. However, that doesn’t mean there is any extra money to be saved.
Your anyone in this situation, the answer is easy. Just change the 100 envelope challenge to fit what you can save. Here are some ideas to help you modify the 100 envelope challenge to fit your budget:
- Do a 50 envelope challenge
- Expand the 100 days to be 150 days, 200 days, or even a year
- Use 100 envelopes, but only use numbers up to 20, 25, or 50
Of course, if you want to go all out and challenge yourself, you can make the 100 envelope challenge harder. For example, with the same ideas as above, you can up the number of envelopes, the amounts for each envelope or shorten the timeframe by picking two envelopes a day.
Pros and Cons for the 100 Envelope Challenge
As with any money-saving challenge that helps you to save, the 100 envelope challenge comes with its own set of pros and cons, here are just a few of each:
- The 100 envelope challenge is both easy to set up and execute
- You can save a lot of money very quickly
- Since the challenge uses cash, your money is easily accessible.
- You can easily modify the challenge before or during to fit any financial situation
- The 100 envelope challenge can help saving money become a habit.
- You’ll need to keep yourself motivated every single day
- Constantly getting cash to put in envelopes can be inconvenient
- You might not have enough cash to put into your envelopes every day
- You’ll have thousands of dollars in your house that can easily be misplaced or stolen if not in a secure location
100 Envelope Challenge: Final Thoughts
Getting motivated to save money isn’t always easy. Money-saving challenges attempt to provide that extra motivation you need to start forming good money-saving habits. The 100 envelope challenge is simply one of many money-saving challenges out there.
The 100 envelope challenge is easy to set up and execute but can be a bit too much money for some people to save in a short amount of time. If’s that’s the case, simply modify the challenge to fit your financial situation. Start saving money today with the 100 envelope challenge!
Jeff is a fan of all things finance. When he’s not out there changing the world with his blog, you can find him on a run, a Mets game, playing video games, or just playing around with his kids.