100 Envelope Challenge Explained (Free Printable Chart!)

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100 Envelope Challenge

The 100 envelope challenge is a money-saving challenge that’s designed to help you side aside money every single day for 100 days.

If you’re plugged into social media, you might have seen this viral money challenge on Tiktok. Read through the comments and you’ll see quite a few Tiktok users saying that the 100 day money challenge helped them to save a lot of money in a short amount of time.

Money-saving challenges can be a great thing when it comes to reaching your financial goals. And they’re also a fun way to save a little extra money without much effort.

Specifically, the 100 day challenge can help you save over $5,000 in a year. That sounds good but it helps to understand how the challenge works before diving in.

This beginner’s guide explains how to start saving the easy way so you can get into a regular saving habit.

Related post: Penny Savings Challenge Explained

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What is the 100 Envelope Challenge?

The 100 envelope money challenge is a fun challenge that allows you to save $5,000 in 100 days.

Here’s how the 100-day envelope challenge  works:

  • Get 100 paper envelopes and label them 1 to 100. (These mini envelopes are designed to hold gift cards but they’re also perfect for doing the 100 envelope challenge!)
  • Every day for 100 days, choose a random envelope.
  • Put the amount of cash that corresponds to the number on the front of the envelope inside and seal it.
  • When you’ve filled every envelope, you’ll have exactly $5,050 in cash savings at the end of the challenge.

So, say you pick envelope number 23 on the first day of the challenge. You’d put $23 in cash in the envelope and seal it.

On day two, you draw envelope number $5. So you stick $5 in cash inside.

You keep going this way, working your way through all 100 envelopes and saving a completely random amount of money each day. Once all the numbered envelopes are full, the challenge is complete.

woman holding an envelope full of cash

Where did the 100 envelope challenge idea come from?

The 100 day savings challenge blew up as a viral Tiktok trend. But a quick Google search will tell you that the idea for it supposedly comes from a mathematician named Carl Friedrich Gauss.

The story goes that as a young student, Gauss was able to add the numbers 1 to 100 in no time.

Gauss realized that by grouping numbers 1 to 100 in pairs (1 + 100, 2 + 99, and so on) each pair would always equal 101. Since there are 50 pairs of numbers, you can multiply 101 x 50 to get 5050.

100 envelope challenge math

The 100 day challenge lets you save a fairly large sum of money in a short period of time. Here’s a breakdown of how the 100 envelope challenge math works:

  • Envelopes 1 to 10 completed = $55 saved
  • Envelopes 1 to 25 completed = $325 saved
  • Envelopes 1 to 50 completed = $1,275 saved
  • Envelopes 1 to 75 completed = $2,850 saved
  • Envelopes 1 to 100 completed = $5,050 saved

These are all numbers in exact cash saved.

If you pull one random envelope per day, the highest number you’d save in a single week is $679. The lowest amount of money you’d save in a week is $28.

Does the 100 Envelope Challenge Work?

The 100 day envelope savings challenge does work if you’re committed to saving your extra dollars and filling up every single envelope.

You might consider this savings method if you:

  • Would prefer saving cash to putting money in a separate savings account
  • Have spare cash in your budget to save each day
  • Don’t mind having to keep up with a bunch of envelopes

The 100 envelope savings challenge can be an effective way to save money if you follow the plan. The upside is that it’s not hard to do.

You simply pick a random envelope each day, then fill it with the dollar amount that’s written on the front.

woman holding cash in one hand and pointing to it with the other

100 envelope challenge pros and cons

Taking a 100 day savings challenge can be a great way to reach your savings goals.

For example, you might be trying to build an emergency fund, set aside extra cash for some big purchases or save a down payment on a home. This challenge can help you reach those goals, a little bit at a time.

The biggest flaw with the 100 envelope savings challenge is that it doesn’t necessarily fit every financial situation.

If you’re living paycheck to paycheck and relying on credit cards to get by from time to time, for example, you might not have an extra $1 in spare cash, much less money to fill an envelope with $100.

You’re probably not worrying about saving if you don’t have enough money in your checking account in the first place to cover the bills. So if you try the challenge, you might struggle once you get to the envelopes with high numbers.

Related post: How to Save $10,000 In a Year

100 Envelope Challenge Variations

If you don’t have much money to save or you want a savings method that’s easier on your bank balance, there are some 100 envelope challenge variations you could try.

For example, instead of drawing one random envelope per day, you could draw two per week.

You’d still save $5,050 in exact cash that you could add to your bank account. But you’re saving over the course of a year instead of packing it all into a 100-day window.

Another 100 day money challenge variation involves pulling one or two envelopes each payday, using two sets of envelopes numbered 1 to 50 or scaling back and doing a 50 envelope challenge instead.

Or you may decide to try a completely different savings method. The 52-week challenge, for example, has you saving money over the entire year, starting with just $1.

This could be the best way for you to save if you’re new to the saving habit.

Related post: 52-Week Challenge: How to Save $1,378 This Year

100 Envelope Challenge Free Printable Chart

Want a simple way to keep track of your savings? I’ve got a free printable 100 envelope challenge tracker you can download!

Simply color in or cross off one envelope per day that corresponds to the number on the random envelope you draw until your chart is completely filled in.

Click the image below to sign up for the Resource Library where you can grab your free envelope challenge chart, plus lots of other free printables!

100 envelope challenge tracker

Should I Do the 100 Envelope Money Challenge?

You might consider the 100 envelope savings challenge if you’re looking for a fun way to save money (and maybe even grow your net worth a little).

This is a simple savings challenge that family members can participate in together, which is great for teaching kids the value of saving. Even if they don’t contribute anything to the savings pot, they’ll still learn the basics of saving by helping you fill the envelopes and mark them off on your envelope challenge tracker.

Keep in mind, however, that there are other easy ways to save.

You could use phone apps like Digit and Acorns, for example, to save your spare change.

These apps allow you to set up a digital savings jar and grow your balance a little bit at a time.

And you might try a no spend challenge as well if you’re looking for a simple way to put the brakes on impulse purchases.

Related post: 10 Hacks for Crushing a No Spend Challenge

Final thoughts on the 100 envelope savings challenge

Trying the 100 day envelope challenge could be a good way to find your savings groove and the good news is, it doesn’t take a lot of effort.

If you’re struggling to find the extra cash to save, putting some simple frugal trips to work can help.

For example, meal planning can help you save money on groceries. And you can use phone apps like GetUpside to save on gas.

And you can also look for ways to make extra money to add to your 100-day savings challenge pile.

For example, using Ibotta when you shop is an easy way to earn cashback when you spend. Or you could earn up to $50 per survey answering questions with Survey Junkie in your spare time.

The point is that saving a few extra dollars shouldn’t have to be hard. Whether you’re working on a three-year plan, five-year plan or are just trying to make your budget stretch to the end of the month, taking a savings challenge can help you get on track.

Be sure to check out my favorite Smart Money Tools for more ways to make and save money.

Need more ideas for making extra cash? Here are 35 side hustle ideas that pay $1,000+ each month!

100 envelope challenge pinterest image

100 Envelope Savings Challenge

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