100 Envelope Challenge: How To Save $5,000 in 100 Days

The 100 Envelope challenge is a great way to save money. The challenge is simple: stash away money every day, for 100 days, until you reach your goal. The 100 envelope challenge works for any amount, but $5,000 is a great goal to save for.

What is the 100 envelope challenge?

The 100 envelope challenge is a savings challenge where you save money every day for 100 days. The goal is to save up a set amount of money, like $5,000.

The challenge is a fun and easy way to save money. You can share the habits and tips you learn and can challenge others to participate. It’s also a great way to get into the habit of saving money regularly.

How the 100 envelope challenge works

To get started, you’ll need 100 envelopes. You’ll also need a place to store your savings that is separate from the rest of your finances.

  1. Purchase 100 envelopes and label them 1-100.
  2. For the next 100 days, randomly pick an envelope every day. 1 day = 1 envelope.
  3. Once you have picked your envelope for the day, place the amount of cash written on the front inside the envelope. For example, if you picked 23, place $23 inside the envelope.
  4. Stash your cash envelope in a safe place!
  5. Keep track of your progress by crossing off the envelope number once you have placed the cash inside.
  6. Celebrate smaller milestones (days 25, 50, and 75). Appreciate your progress.
  7. You finished! At the end of 100 days, you’ll have saved $5,000.

Pro Tip: Even if you miss a day or two, don’t give up. Saving $5,000 is a great goal, but the 100 envelope challenge can be tailored to any amount or time. The real goal is to develop good saving habits. 

Why save money? Why save $5,000?

Why should you save $5k? Though it may seem obvious, saving money is important for a variety of reasons. It can help you weather an emergency, reach your financial goals, and give you a sense of security.

Life happens. Having an emergency fund can help you cover unexpected costs like a car repair or medical bill. And when you have cash on hand, you’re less likely to put these expenses on a credit card and rack up debt.

Pro tip: Your emergency fund should be enough to cover 3-6 months of expenses.

(Not so) fun fact: 56% of Americans can’t cover a $1,000 emergency expense with savings.

The confidence you gain from saving money can’t be overstated. Reaching your 100-day savings goal will give you a sense of accomplishment and ease anxiety about your finances. With $5,000 saved, you can focus on your financial goals.

Whether that’s buying a home, taking a dream vacation, or retiring, $5,000 is enough to comfortably make long-term decisions about your work, finances, and family. It is also a doable goal, especially if you break it down into 100 days.

100 Envelope challenge chart

100 Envelope challenge: cash envelopes with values from 1 to 100.

Facts, figures, and formulas (for nerds)

If you’re a nerd (or someone who likes numbers), here’s the arithmetic progression behind the 100 envelope challenge: S= n/2[2a + (n − 1) × d]. Though the formula may seem complicated, the math is simple.

Formula behind the 100 envelope challenge: S= n/2[2a + (n − 1) × d].

If you start with the setup below, you’ll save over $5k in 100 days.

  • 100 envelopes
  • 100 days to save
  • $5,000 goal (really $5,050)
  • average $50/day

Don’t let the formula intimidate you. All it means is that if you place $1 in the first envelope, $2 in the second envelope, $3 in the third envelope, and so on, you’ll eventually arrive at $5,000 total.

Don’t let the formula intimidate you.

The only difference is the challenge randomizes the amount in your cash envelope. This helps make the challenge fun and encourages you to be creative with your spending.

Tips to save money: how to save $5k

  1. Use cash when purchasing smaller items (snacks, coffee, takeout). Using cash prevents you from overspending.
  2. Share subscriptions with roommates and family. If you want more account flexibility, consider upgrading to family plans.
  3. Drink more water. Not only is it good for you, but it will save you money on soda and other drinks. And if you’re like most people, you’re dehydrated anyway.
  4. Shop around for the best deals on everyday items: groceries, clothing, and other household items
  5. Cook 1-2 more meals at home. There are plenty of recipes online that are affordable and delicious. Don’t forget to brew your coffee or cold brew at home.
  6. Take advantage of discount programs and special offers. Many schools partner with businesses to offer discounts to students. Some companies offer similar programs to their workers. It’s free money – take advantage.
  7. Make your cleaning supplies. Vinegar and baking soda work just as well as expensive store-bought products
  8. Take public transportation, ride a bike, or walk. Carpool when possible. Not only will this save you money on gas, but it helps the environment.
  9. Compete with family, friends, and coworkers. Though the cash envelope challenge is about you and your goals, competition can be a fun motivator. Share with others so they can save money too.
Pro Tip: Substitute small, unnecessary expenses for your smaller daily saving goals.

Pro Tip: Substitute small, unnecessary expenses for your smaller daily saving goals. For example, if your goal for the day is $7, substitute your Starbucks latte for the office Keurig.

Make small sacrifices to save money and win big

Saving money will require some lifestyle changes, but the 100 envelope challenge is a fun way to save $5,000 in 100 days. With a little effort, you’ll be able to save money and reach your savings goal.

Pro tip: Get creative with your spending and take advantage of discounts and special offers.

Even if you miss a day or fall short, keep going. remember, your real goal is to pick up some great money-saving tips and habits. The final amount is not important.

100 Days and $5,000 later…what now?

Congrats! You finished the 100 envelope challenge! Now that you’ve saved $5,000, the hard part is over. Your next challenge is figuring out what are you going to do with your money.

Pro Tip: If you’re unsure what to do with your money, a savings account is a safe place to keep it until you can figure it out.


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Here are a few ideas:

  • Save it for a rainy day. Place your money in a savings account, and use it as an emergency fund.
  • Invest it with Acorns in a traditional brokerage or Roth IRA account. Acorns is a great investment platform for beginners. With Acorns, you can start investing with as little as $5. Sign up to get $5 free.
  • Pay off high-interest debt (credit cards). Credit cards can have interest rates as high as 25%. If you’re carrying a balance on your credit cards, consider using your $5,000 to pay them off.
  • Plan a vacation or big purchase. Celebrate your accomplishment, but be smart about it. Don’t splurge.
  • Start a business (even if you don’t have an idea). $5,000 is a great seed fund to get your business off the ground.
Further Reading
How to Start a Business in 2022 with No Ideas (or Money)

No matter what you decide, remember the lessons you learned along the way. The 100 envelope challenge is a great way to save, learn, and challenge yourself. Remember, saving money is a marathon, not a sprint. Be patient, be consistent, and be proud of your accomplishment!

Join the Conversation

  1. AJ Dysick Author says:

    Check out the results of my 100 envelope challenge on my YouTube channel: https://youtube.com/shorts/8wmMchU0OAU?feature=share

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