How to use the 100 envelope challenge step-by-step with free printables that will keep track of how much you save
The money challenge went viral on TikTok since it helps you save a decent sum in a relatively short amount of time. If you combine it with the cash envelope system then you can save even more!
What is the 100 envelope challenge?
Put 100 envelopes in a box and shuffle them. You then randomly pull out one envelope from a box and stuff it with the amount of money that is written on that envelope. When all envelopes are filled you will have saved $5,050. You can use this extra money to create an emergency fund, pay off your credit card debt, or go on a vacation!
How often do you pull out an envelope?
You can pretty much decide for yourself how often you pull out an envelope. There are variations of the challenge so it can be completed in 100 days, 50 or 100 weeks depending on how many envelopes you pull out each day or week.
For example, if you are paid bi weekly then you can turn this into a biweekly money-saving challenge and draw one envelope every two weeks. If you prefer, you can pull out one envelope each day for 100 days. The 100-day envelope challenge helps you save $5,050 in 100 days.
If you would prefer a 52-week challenge, then see our 52-week money-saving challenge.
How to do the 100 envelope challenge?
You will need the following:
- 100 envelopes
- A marker
- A box or huge envelope to store the 100 envelopes
- Access to $5,050 that you will save during the challenge
- Take 100 envelopes and label them with numbers starting from one to one hundred.
- Shuffle the envelopes so that they are arranged in random order.
- Put the envelopes in a storage box (or a shoebox).
- Over the next 100 days (or any other timeframe you decide on), you randomly pull one single envelope out of the box.
- You check what number it is and put that amount of cash in the envelope. For example, if you pull out envelope number 54 then you put $54 in the envelope.
- If you keep doing this until all the envelopes are full of cash then you will have $5,050 by the end of the challenge.
100 Envelope Challenge Chart
This printable challenge tracker will help you mark the envelopes that you have filled with money.
The printable tracker is available as a typeable PDF or an image file. You don’t need to print the envelope challenge tracker. To use the digital version, download the PDF file and open it on your phone or tablet with a note-taking app (see digital planner for more details).
The Excel spreadsheet keeps track of how much you have saved. Each time you fill an envelope you mark it as complete. The total saved will automatically be updated to include the sum of all envelopes closed.
You can change the 100-day challenge money amount in the Excel chart above. If you do change the amount, then check the chart for the amount you need to insert into the envelope each day.
Variations of the 100 envelope challenge
If you like this money challenge but it isn’t totally for you as-is, then you might prefer to try a challenge variation:
- Carry on for 100 weeks and not 100 days and you will save $5,050 in just under two years.
- Pull out two envelopes per week and then you will save $5,050 in one year.
- Decide how much you want to save in 100 days and divide that number by 100. Put that sum in each of the envelopes. You could also do this variation over one year and draw two envelopes per week.
- Use 200 envelopes and make two sets of numbers from 1 to 100. Pull out two envelopes each day and you will have $10,100 at the end of the challenge.
- You can also do a 100-day money challenge without envelopes. Simply put the money in a sealed piggy bank or savings jar each day or create automatic transfers to a separate savings account. See the 52-week money challenge.
- Take out one envelope each time you receive a paycheck. If you are paid weekly then the challenge will continue for 100 weeks (just under 2 years). You can also use less than 100 envelopes.
The Benefits of the Envelope Challenge
- This envelope money challenge is a fun way to save money. Cash stuffing envelopes somehow makes saving more enjoyable.
- You probably land up saving more than you would have had you not done the challenge.
- Since the fun challenge lasts for relatively long, it is enough time to build a savings habit that will hopefully last after the challenge is over as well. If not, there are more money-saving challenges on this site.
- The challenge is perfect for those who use the cash envelope system
- Money-saving envelopes are a good way to save since you can seal them which makes them less accessible. When you save money in a piggy bank or a box that can be opened then it is easy to take out money when you need it. The money envelopes are sealed with a specific sum in each one which makes it more difficult to “borrow” from them.
- If you save the money on payday before you start paying for your expenses then you will ensure that you reach your saving goal. This is based on the assumption that you earn enough to save and pay your essential expenses.
The Problems with the Envelope Challenge
- Who has that much extra cash lying around? I hardly use cash for anything. I pretty much use my credit card for everything. If you draw out money from the bank to participate in the challenge, then you might as well transfer it to a savings account and earn interest. So, I would say that the envelope challenge is more for people who get their salary paid in cash. It is perfect for those who earn cash and tend to spend more than they need. This will force them to save more than they would have. If you do use cash often enough, then an envelope savings challenge will help you save your spare change instead of wasting it.
- Envelope saving doesn’t yield any interest. If you have $5,050 to save then you will be better off putting it in a high-yield savings account and earning interest on it. However, if the alternative would have been that you would have spent that money then it is better to save without earning interest.
- Since there is no system to this money envelope challenge, if you pull out a random envelope with a high number for a few days in a row then you will need to save a lot of money in a short time. For example, if you pull out envelopes 100, 90, and 95 in 3 days then you will have to save $285 in three days!