What would you do with $5,050? Check an exotic locale off of your travel bucket list? Dive into your curiosity about investing? Free yourself of credit card debt? Put a hefty downpayment on a car? Bask in the comfort of having a sweet little emergency fund in your savings account? The possibilities are endless, but there’s some real opportunity to achieve your financial goals!
There are a lot of tempting options available when you have a nice nest egg set aside, but building the nest is the challenging part. Saving money usually isn’t nearly as much fun as non-essential spending, but the 100 Envelope Challenge puts a novel twist on plumping up your piggy bank with some extra cash.
Would you rather watch than read? Learn more about the cash stuffing saving challenge on Heard it From Hannah
What is the 100 Envelope Challenge?
The 100 Envelope Money Saving Challenge (also known as the Cash Stuffing Saving Challenge) is a fun personal finance trick that’s been going viral on TikTok and beyond.
It’s just a way to save money, really, but the method used makes it more like a game. Here’s how it’s done:
Buy 100 Envelopes (This part cost Hannah $10.49, for the record.)
Label each envelope with a number between one and 100.
Shuffle/mix/rearrange your envelopes and toss them all into a shoebox. Or an Amazon box. Whatever kind of box.
Draw two random envelopes from the box at the beginning of each week. That number on the front? That’s the dollar amount you’re going to stick inside and you have all week to do it. Maybe you’ll just take that amount of cash from your bank account, or maybe you’ll work a little harder to reduce your expenses by that amount for the week (bye-bye, Dominos, hello DiGiornos), or perhaps you’ll post stuff you don’t need on Facebook Marketplace—make “finding” the money part of the fun.
Once you’ve filled that week’s envelopes, color in a coin on YNAB’s free 100 Envelope Challenge Printable Tracker. (You could also create a 1-100 checklist on a sheet of paper if you are averse to helpful and adorable printable worksheets. Or if your printer is uncooperative; it happens.)
Download the 100 Envelope Challenge Printable Tracker below.
Place your full cash envelopes in a second box, envelope, safe, or underwear drawer.
Continue each week. At the end of the challenge, you’ll have 50 filled envelopes containing a grand total of $5,050. That’s a nice amount of money!
Tips for making the 100 Envelope Challenge Work
Now, obviously, some weeks are going to be easier than others. If you pull out envelope number 92 and 99, you might wonder why you ever thought this was a good idea. And you might make an “uh-oh” face and drop one back into the box in order to choose another one, like Hannah does in the video. No one will know. Unless you make a video of yourself doing that.
But if your luck runs the other way and you pull two easy amounts, consider going into “expert mode” and pull a third envelope, if you can.
Also, this challenge has you finishing the challenge in 50 weeks when done as planned. Since there are 52 weeks in a year, you have two weeks of wiggle room—you could put an envelope back in the box on a week where you can’t fill it, or take a week off for vacation. It’s okay to make this a 52-week money challenge instead!
No Envelope Challenge Variation
Now, I know some of you are out there thinking, “I don’t want to deal with weekly trips to the ATM or buying a bunch of envelopes.” (I know that because you are my people. This plan would last two weeks at best for me, as-is.) But that doesn’t mean that you don’t want to save some extra money. Here are two ways to do this digitally by using a budgeting app like YNAB:
Option 1: Create a category group called “100 Envelope Savings Challenge” and then create 100 categories labeled one through 100.
(Don’t worry, you can collapse the categories using the arrow next to the category group name.)
Label 100 slips of paper with numbers on them and select two a week to decide which of your virtual “envelopes” to assign with the corresponding amount of cash. If you’re afraid that you’ll dip into your savings, “hide” your category once you fund it by clicking on the category name and selecting “hide.”
Option 2: If you prefer a more minimalist approach, you can create one “Savings Plan Challenge” category and set a $5,050 savings goal with a due date 50 weeks out and use slips of paper to decide how much to assign to your category each week.
The downside here is that you will have to ignore the reminder to save “x” amount per month to reach your target since your savings amounts will be inconsistent.
No matter how you make it happen, an extra $5,050 is a lot of money and honing your savings habits is always a great idea. If you’re looking for more challenge ideas that will help improve your financial situation, check out our More Money Challenge. It’s only 30 days, there are no envelopes involved, and it’s free.
And while you’re on a roll with building better money habits, consider giving YNAB a try for 34 free days! There’s no commitment or credit card involved, and it’s a great way to bring more awareness to your spending and saving habits.