Millions of TikTok users were captivated by the 100-envelope money-saving. There’s a good reason for that. Americans have a median savings account balance of $1,200, according to a Motley Fool survey. Aside from that, median savings balances dropped from $4,500, and average savings balances are down from $35,366.
Nevertheless, people can save a whopping $5,050 just by participating in this challenge. A challenge like this could help you achieve any goal, from paying off debt to building an emergency fund to taking a vacation.
Even better? The 100-envelope challenge is an easy way to save money without sacrificing all your expenses or living off the grid. All you need is 100 empty envelopes and a little willpower for this 100-day money challenge.
What is the 100-Envelope Challenge?
For those who aren’t familiar, the 100-envelope challenge is a popular, gamified way to save money. To accomplish this, 100 envelopes are numbered from 1 to 100 and the corresponding amounts are saved in each envelope.
As an example, you would place $1 in envelope 1, $2 in envelope 2, etc. Your savings will total $5,050 when the 100 days are up.
It’s a straightforward premise:
- Get 100 empty envelopes. It is best to use an envelope size that is large enough to accommodate cash bills. It can be a hassle to keep coins in envelopes, but they are also fine for use.
- Each envelope should be numbered from 1 to 100. As of now, keep them in order; you’ll reshuffle them in later.
- Put your envelopes in a container. You can use any container that is convenient for you. It can be a box, a basket, or anything else you have on hand. Even an empty shoebox would work.
- In a random order, shuffle the envelopes. It’s all about being surprised at how much you save each day.
- Each day, pick a random envelope. Pick up an envelope without looking at it. Whenever possible, avoid cheating by selecting an envelope containing an amount you think would be safe to save that day.
- In the envelope, write the amount of money for the day. Place the cash value inside the envelope based on the number on the envelope. In other words, if you pull the envelope with the number 34 on it, seal it with $34.
- Set aside the filled envelope. Until the 100-day money challenge is complete, place the filled and sealed envelopes in a separate secure location. You can place an upside-down envelope or place a divider between the filled and empty envelopes if you are using the same box.
- Keep an eye on your savings progress. Keep a log of your savings on paper or on a spreadsheet or use a free mobile app to motivate yourself not to give up.
- Complete the challenge. Your 100-envelope challenge will be completed when your box of envelopes is empty or filled with cash.
- Don’t let your envelope cash go to waste. The money you save from this challenge can be used for a home down payment, college fund, debt repayment, or retirement fund if you don’t already have one.
Using Digital Envelopes
As an alternative to using 100 envelopes, a more practical way of doing the 100-day money challenge would be to go digital. You can do this by following these steps:
- You can download a printable tracker with the numbers 1 to 100 for the 100-envelope challenge.
- You can select the daily random numbers that correspond to the amount of money you want to save by using an online random number generator.
- Use direct deposit during the 100-envelope challenge to automatically transfer the money to a separate savings account.
The Magic of the 100-Envelope Challenge
The biggest attraction of the 100-envelope challenge? If you follow it strictly, you will have set aside a substantial amount in a relatively short amount of time. Depending on your situation, this may be more than you would save over three months, which can help you improve your financial situation.
Other reasons why the 100 envelope challenge works include:
- It gamifies saving. There’s no denying that saving money isn’t always fun. By adding a competitive element, the 100-envelope challenge makes it feel like a game rather than a chore. It is exciting to pick a random envelope every day, and it can be motivating to see how much money is accumulated.
- You are forced to save. You commit to saving a certain amount every day with the 100-envelope challenge. As a result, you may be able to break your spending habit.
- Small, achievable goals. Making your savings goal smaller, daily amounts makes it seem more manageable. Despite the fact that $1 a day might not seem like much, it adds up quickly. Additionally, completing each day’s task can give you a sense of accomplishment.
- It’s a visual reminder of your progress. The envelopes will serve as a tangible reminder of your progress as you fill them up. In this way, you can stay motivated and on track.
- Flexibility. Depending on your budget and needs, you can adjust the challenge. It is possible to change how much you save each day, how many days you do the challenge, or how you order the envelopes.
However, there are some downsides to the 100-envelope challenge. Keep these things in mind:
- Setting it up and managing it can be time-consuming.
- For it to succeed, discipline and commitment are required.
- Some people may not be able to afford it, especially those with limited incomes.
- The sight of unpacking $5,000 in bills may be powerful, but if you’re not accustomed to carrying large amounts of cash, you may not feel comfortable keeping that much at home. In that case, you may have to visit the ATM frequently.
Overall, the 100 envelope challenge can increase your savings and help you develop a healthy saving habit.
How to Succeed at the 100-Envelope Challenge
If you want to succeed at the 100-envelope challenge, follow these tips:
- Start small. You might want to start by saving a smaller amount, such as $1 per envelope, if you aren’t used to saving regularly. As you become more comfortable with the challenge, you can adjust the amount.
- Be consistent. If you can, pick an envelope every day and save a small amount. Consistency will help you reach your goals faster.
- Get creative. For the 100-envelope challenge, rules aren’t set in stone. To make it more interesting, you can choose envelopes randomly, save them in reverse order, or hide them all around your house.
- Involve others. Invite your friends and family to join the challenge for added motivation and friendly competition.
- Track your progress. Keeping a chart or spreadsheet will help you keep track of your progress. Maintaining your motivation will be easier if you can see how much you’ve saved.
- Celebrate your milestones. When you reach milestones, like filling 25 envelopes or halfway through the project, reward yourself.
- Be flexible. The unexpected happens in life. You do not have to beat yourself up if you miss a few days. It’s just a matter of picking up where you left off and continuing the momentum.
How to Reduce Spending for a Money-Saving Challenge
A 100-day envelope savings challenge is no walk in the park. For instance, if you have no problem filling up envelopes 1 through 10, but are having trouble with envelopes 50 through 100, you might have a harder time.
If you want to reach your goal, you should consider ways to cut your spending. You might find these ideas helpful:
- Choose groceries over restaurants. It can be expensive to order delivery and eat out. You can save a lot of money by cooking at home and prepping meals at the beginning of each week. Ask your friends if they would be open to hosting a potluck dinner at one of your houses if you usually eat out with them.
- Get rid of expensive subscriptions or memberships. List your monthly expenses for streaming services, gym memberships, and other expenses. If you want to do the 100 envelope challenge, consider whether there are any you can cut, even if it’s just temporarily.
- Look for free activities near your home. Check your local newspaper or city website for free events. Picnicking, hiking, and visiting parks are all inexpensive family activities.
Budgeting can also help you keep track of your income and expenses. You can identify areas where you overspend and cut back on spending by taking a bird’s eye view of your finances.
Alternatives to the 100-Envelope Challenge
It can be fun to save through the 100-envelope challenge, but it isn’t for everyone. Depending on your goals and preferences, these options may be a better fit if you’re looking for alternatives:
- 52-week challenge. By saving $1 in the first week, $2 in the second, etc., you end up with $52 in the final week. Over the course of the year, this amounts to $1,378.
- No-spend challenge. You can set a day, weekend, or even a week when you will not spend any money that is unnecessary. You can use this to become more aware of your money and identify areas to cut back on.
- Reverse challenge. Each week, reduce the amount you save by the highest amount you are comfortable with, say, $50. Reduce your savings each week by the highest amount you’re comfortable with, like $50. As you reach your goals, this can motivate you and provide a sense of accomplishment.
- Saving for a specific goal. Identify a specific goal and track your progress towards it, like a vacation or a down payment on a house. By doing so, you can motivate yourself to save consistently.
- Debt payoff challenge. Decide which debt you want to pay down and set aside money each week or month to do so. The satisfaction of seeing progress is priceless.
- Charity challenge. Make a weekly or monthly donation to a cause you care about. It is a great way to save and give back at the same time.
- Saving apps. The difference in your purchases is automatically transferred to your savings account by apps like Qapital and Digit. It’s a painless way to save without even realizing it.
- Automatic transfers. Every payday, transfer money from your checking account to your savings account. By doing this, you can ensure that you are consistently saving money.
- Micro-investing apps. With apps like Acorns and Stash, you can invest small amounts in stocks and ETFs. In the long run, this can be an excellent way to grow your savings.
Remember, the most important thing is to choose a challenge that fits your lifestyle and is realistic. As you get comfortable, gradually increase your savings. If necessary, adjust your approach.
Ultimately, the best alternative to the 100-envelope challenge is the one that works for you.
You’ll learn self-discipline, financial awareness, and delayed gratification through the 100-envelope challenge.
So, what’s holding you back? You can embark on your own 100-envelope journey to financial freedom when you grab some envelopes, get creative, and start saving.
Do I have to save $1 per day?
No. Depending on your budget, you can adjust the amounts. You could, for example, save $0.50 per day or double your savings.
Can I modify the challenge?
Absolutely! It is the adaptability of the challenge that makes it so appealing. Here are some ideas:
- Change the duration. Do 30 or 50 days instead of 100.
- Adjust the amounts. The amount can be halved, or smaller cash denominations can be used if $5,050 seems too much.
- Make it a group challenge. Together with your friends or family, track your progress.
What are the benefits of the challenge?
- Increased savings. As you save consistently, your savings will grow significantly.
- Fun and engaging. Thanks to the game-like aspect, saving becomes more enjoyable and less of a chore.
- Goal setting. You will feel accomplished after completing the challenge and be motivated to set new financial goals.
What are the drawbacks of the challenge?
- High initial commitment. When your budget is tight, saving can be challenging.
- The temptation to spend. When cash is readily available in envelopes, you might be tempted not to save it but rather spend it.
- Neglects other financial goals. You might be distracted from other important financial priorities, such as debt repayment and retirement planning, by the challenge.
Is cash the best way to do the envelope challenge?
An old-fashioned approach to saving is taken with the 100-envelope challenge with envelopes and cash. You can, however, complete this savings challenge digitally.
If you’d like, you can download a 100-envelope challenge printable. Each day, you can check off the “envelopes” in order or pick a random number by using an online number generator.
You can transfer the amount to your savings account once you’ve chosen your envelope number. Online banking is more practical in a few ways than cash. You may lose cash in a flood, fire, or burglary if you save a large amount of money.
Secondly, cash doesn’t earn interest, losing value over time as inflation increases. High-yield savings accounts, however, may earn you interest over the year.
By all means, if envelopes and cash motivate you more, go with that approach. To keep your money safe and grow it over time, consider saving it in a high-yield savings account once you complete the money-saving challenge.
Is the 100-envelope challenge right for me?
The answer depends on your financial situation and your goals. If you’re looking for an easy, quick, and effective way to boost your savings, this might be worth a try. However, don’t neglect other important financial priorities by not adjusting the challenge.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Karolina Grabowska; Pexels
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