Last Updated on October 8, 2022 by Rebecca Lake
Want to challenge yourself to save more money?
The 200 envelope challenge is a savings challenge that can help you save $5,100 in 200 days. To complete the challenge, you add money to numbered envelopes every day until all the envelopes are filled.
But should you take the 200 envelope challenge? How does it work? And can it really help you save money?
Here’s a closer look at how this money-saving challenge works.
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What Is the 200 Envelope Challenge?
The 200 envelope money savings challenge (or 200-day envelope challenge) is a spin-off of the 100 envelope challenge.
If you don’t know how the 100 envelope challenge works, here are the basics:
- Start by collecting 100 blank envelopes.
- Number each envelope from 1 to 100.
- Shuffle the 100 envelopes so the numbers are out of order.
- Each day, draw one envelope and fill it with an amount of cash equal to the number on the envelope.
- Keep drawing an envelope each day, separating filled envelopes from empty ones.
- When all the envelopes are full, you’ll have $5,050 saved!
The “challenge” part comes in because you never know what number you’re going to draw.
So one day, you might save $5 if you pull envelope 5. But another day, you might have to save $100 in cash if you pull envelope 100.
That’s not a problem if you have plenty of cash to save in your budget. But you might hit a snag if you’re in-between paychecks when you draw a higher-numbered envelope or an unexpected expense comes up.
The 200 envelope version of the challenge makes saving $5,000 easier by breaking your goal down into smaller steps.
How Does the 200 Envelope Savings Challenge Work?
The 200 day envelope challenge mostly works the same way the 100 envelope challenge does. You draw a numbered envelope each day, then save the amount of cash equal to that.
At the end of the 200 days, you’d have $5,100 saved. That’s $50 more than you’d end up with if you did the 100 envelope challenge instead!
But there are two differences between the 200 envelope challenge and the 100 envelope challenge:
- Number of envelopes used
- How those envelopes are numbered
The way you approach the challenge matters because it determines the maximum amount you’d save each day.
For example, here are some examples of how the 200 envelope challenge math might work out.
- Day 1 – You draw envelope 7 and save $7
- Day 2 – You draw envelope 13 and save $13
- Day 3 – You draw envelope 27 and save $27
At the end of those three days, you’d have $47 in savings. That’s not too taxing on your budget.
But what happens if you draw bigger envelopes?
- Day 1 – You draw envelope 33 and save $33
- Day 2 – You draw envelope 62 and save $62
- Day 3 – You draw envelope 100 and save $100
Now you’d have $195 at the end of the three days instead!
That might be doable or a stretch, depending on your budget.
Related post: 25 Best Cash Envelope Wallets (Stylish and Affordable!)
How to Do the 200 Envelope Challenge
You can do the challenge using 200 envelopes or 100. You’ll number them the same way.
Here’s what you’ll need to get started:
- Envelopes. You can use plain white ones or pick some colored envelopes to add a little fun to the challenge.
- Pens or markers. You’ll need these to number each of your envelopes. Sharpies work great for this!
- A container for your envelopes. You can stash your envelopes in a cute box, plastic bin or even a small safe.
- Cash. You’ll need to have cash to fill your envelopes each day. (Unless you’re doing the challenge digitally, which I’ll explain later.)
It’s also helpful to have a printable tracker that you can use to cross off each number as you go.
I’ve got an envelope challenge tracker printable you can download at the end of this post. All you have to do is download it, then print off two copies to track all of your envelopes!
Option #1: Use 200 envelopes
If you want to do the 200 day challenge with 200 envelopes, here’s how it works:
- Round up 200 envelopes.
- Break the 200 envelopes into four groups of 50 envelopes each.
- Number each group of envelopes from 1 to 50.
- Shuffle all of your envelopes together.
- Each day, pull one envelope from the pile and add the right amount of money to it.
You keep doing that for 200 days, drawing a new envelope each day. You’ll end up saving the same dollar amount four times.
So, four envelopes with $1, four envelopes with $2 and so on.
When you pull all of the cash from your envelopes at the end of the 200 days, you’ll have $5,100.
Option #2: Use 100 envelopes
If 200 envelopes seem like too much to manage, you could do the 200 envelope savings challenge with 100 envelopes instead.
You’ll get 100 envelopes and divide them into two groups of 50 envelopes each. Then, you’ll number each set of envelopes from 1 to 50.
All your envelopes go into the pile together. You pull one each day, adding money as you go.
The difference is that you’re doubling up on the cash in each envelope.
So instead of having four envelopes marked “5” with $5 inside of them, you’d have two envelopes marked “5” but they’d each have $10 inside.
This option can get a little confusing if you’re not keeping track of your envelopes as you go. But you can keep things organized using an envelope challenge tracker.
(Keep scrolling to download a free savings challenge tracker!)
200 Envelope Challenge Variations
If you’d like to save even more money or you’re on a tight budget, there are some 200 envelope savings challenge variations you can try.
Variation #1: Save $10,000
The first variation on the 200 day envelope challenge has you saving $10,000 instead of $5,000.
Here’s how it works:
- Number two sets of envelopes from 1 to 100.
- Mix up all of the envelopes.
- Draw one envelope each day for 200 days.
- Add the corresponding amount of cash to the envelope until all your envelopes are full!
This money challenge is essentially just doubling the 100 envelope challenge.
So you’ll have two sets of 100 envelopes that hold $5,050 each. That’s where the $10,100 in savings comes from.
You might try this savings challenge variation if you want to save $10,000 and you’re confident that you’ll be able to deposit the required amount of money each day.
Variation #2: Include blank envelopes
The second 200 day envelope challenge variation is designed to give you days off from saving.
With this variation, you’d get 200 envelopes but only number 100 of them. The other 100 you’d leave blank.
You’d then mix them up and draw an envelope each day.
Some days, you might choose an envelope with a number. Other days, you might pull a blank envelope instead.
Doing the challenge this way means you’re saving $5,050 but you’re doing it in 200 days instead of 100. So it’s ideal for people with tight budgets who may not have extra cash to save every day.
Variation #3: Do the 200 envelope challenge over 52 weeks
Want to try a 52-week savings challenge instead?
With this savings variation, you’re going to number your envelopes from 1 to 200.
Then, you’re going to pull four envelopes per week. (You can take two weeks off from saving during the year.)
You’ll add cash to each envelope you pull. At the end of the 52 weeks, you’d have $20,100 saved!
This could be a great envelope challenge variation to try if you have a big goal you’re saving for, like a down payment on a home or a new car you plan to buy with cash.
Variation #4: Use smaller numbers
If you want to save money but don’t think you can come up with larger amounts of cash, using smaller numbers for your envelopes is a simple work-around.
For example, you could get 200 envelopes and then group them into 10 sets. You’d then number each set from 1 to 20.
That way, you’re never putting more than $20 a day into an envelope. At the end of the 200 days, you’d have $2,100 saved.
Variation #5: Use even numbers only
One more variation of the 200 envelope money-saving challenge has you adding cash using even numbers only.
There are two ways you could do this.
First, you could number your envelopes 1 to 200. You’d then draw an envelope daily, only adding money on the days you pick an even-numbered envelope.
Or you could use your 200 envelopes, but only number the even ones and leave the odd ones blank. You’d still pick an envelope each day, adding money to the even-numbered ones.
At the end of the 200 days, you’d have $10,100 saved.
How to Do an Envelope Savings Challenge Without Envelopes
Don’t want the hassle of having to make regular ATM withdrawals so you have cash to put in your envelopes?
You could do the 200 day envelope challenge digitally instead.
To do that, you’ll still need to collect and number your envelopes. But as you pull an envelope each day, you’ll transfer money from your checking account to a savings account.
If you’re going to do the envelope challenge digitally, a high yield savings account can be a great place to keep your money.
Savings accounts are secure, so you don’t have to worry about your cash being lost or stolen. And earning a high interest rate means you can grow your money even faster!
If you’re looking for a solid savings option, check out Savings Connect from CIT Bank. You can get one of the most competitive APYs around with minimal fees.
200 Envelope Challenge vs. 100 Envelope Challenge: Which Is Better?
Both envelope challenges can help you save money regularly. Whether it makes sense to choose one over the other depends on your goals and your financial situation.
If you want to save at least $5,000 you could do that with either challenge. The difference is that with the 200 envelope challenge, you could spread that savings out and save smaller amounts daily using one of the variations mentioned earlier.
For example, if you break your envelopes into four groups of 50, then you’ll never save more than $50 in a single day. With the 100 envelope challenge, you might have to come up with $85 one day, then $100 the next.
The 200 day envelope challenge might also appeal to you if you’re aiming to save a larger amount.
Again, depending on which variation you use you might save $10,000 or even $20,000 instead.
How to Find Extra Money to Save
Taking any savings challenge–whether it’s the 200 day envelope challenge, 100 envelope challenge or something else–means you’ll need to have extra money to spare,
If you need a little help finding the cash to save, here are a few ideas you can try:
- Budget for savings. Adding savings as a line item into your budget can help you stay committed to your goal. Here’s a guide to making a budget if you don’t have one yet.
- Use cashback apps. Apps like Rakuten, Ibotta and Swagbucks pay you cashback when you shop. That’s easy money you can use to add to your savings!
- Sell something. Got extra stuff? Chances are, you might have some things to sell to make money around the house.
- Cut your bills. Finding extra money to save may be as simple as lowering some of your bills. If you don’t have time to negotiate your bills or look for expenses you can cut, a financial tool like Trim can do that for you.
You could also start a side hustle to make extra money to save.
For example, sharing your opinions with Survey Junkie could net you up to $50 an hour!
If you need more ideas on how to make money, check out these high-paying side hustles.
200 Envelope Challenge Printable Tracker
As mentioned, I do have a freebie for you that can help you complete the 200 envelope challenge!
You can print out the tracker pictured here twice to keep track of your 200 envelopes.
Just scroll on down to drop your name and email in the form below and your printable envelope challenge tracker will be on its way!
Final thoughts on the 200 envelope challenge
Taking a savings challenge can be a great way to kickstart your efforts to grow your money. The 200 envelope method can help you save $5,000, $10,000 or even $20,000 this year!
Remember, you can tailor the envelope savings challenge to fit your needs. The most important thing is to find a savings method that works for you and stick with it.
Need more ideas on how to save money? Read these posts next:
- Save Money Live Better (20 Easy Ways Save More This Year)
- 160+ Best Frugal Living Tips to Save Money
- 23 Free Money Saving Charts to Help You Crush Your Savings Goals!
- 37 Helpful Money-Saving Hacks for Living on One Income