Why You Shouldn’t Do the 100 Envelope Challenge [and what to do instead in 2023]

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The 100 envelope challenge is a money-saving activity. Begin with 100 envelopes. On each envelope, write a number from 1 to 100. Once a day randomly select an envelope. Whatever the number is on the envelope, put that amount of cash inside. When 100 days have passed, each envelope will be filled with cash and you will have saved a total of $5,050.

What You Need to Know

> The 100 envelope challenge was originally created to give your savings plan a jump-start.
> If you follow the exact plan and put the specified money in an envelope each day, at the end of 100 days you will have $5,050 in cash saved.
> The 100 envelope challenge is not good for everyone and should be thought about seriously before diving in.
> There are other options to jump-start your savings plan that are likely better for you.
ladys hand removing cash from a wallet to use for the 100 envelope challenge

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Have you heard all the razz about the 100 Envelope Challenge, and now you are thinking about doing it?

If you don’t already have a solid savings plan in place, you shouldn’t do the 100 Envelope Challenge.

If you don’t know what it is, I can quickly fill you in.

The 100 Envelope Challenge is supposed to jump-start your savings, and at the end of 100 days, if you follow the challenge precisely as it is laid out, you will have a total of $5,050 cash in all your envelopes.

I’m not sure about you, but that would feel amazing to watch my money grow from $0 to $5,050 in just over 3 months!

Just hold on a few minutes before you head to the store to buy a cheap box of envelopes and start numbering them!

Keep reading to learn more about the hundred envelope challenge and why you might want to bypass it and focus on a more practical money-saving challenge

What Is the 100 Envelope Challenge?

The hundred envelope challenge, also known as the 100 Day Money Challenge, was introduced on the TikTok social media platform as a spin-off of the envelope budgeting method.

However, this challenge does not encompass your whole budget, but instead, it is a challenge to get you focused and push you to start saving money.

how to do the 100 envelope challenge infographic explanation
How to do the 100 Envelope Challenge
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How does the 100 Envelope Challenge work?

This challenge follows the same concept as the envelope budgeting system.

Here is how it works:

  1. Label 100 envelopes with the numbers 1 to 100
  2. Once a day, close your eyes and pull out one envelope
  3. Whatever the number is on the envelope, add that amount of cash to the envelope
  4. Seal the envelope
  5. Repeat for 100 days in a row
  6. Add up the cash in your envelopes, and it will be $5,050 money saved

For example, when you draw your daily envelope if you pull out the one with the number 87 on it, you would put $87 in that envelope and seal it.

If the envelope had the number 15, you would put $15 cash in it and seal it.

It sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it?

Simply pull one envelope out of the stack, add money, and seal.

How hard could that be?

I can give you many reasons why you shouldn’t participate in this so-called fun challenge, and a couple of reasons why you should give it a green light.

Keep reading if you are looking for those answers.

However, this challenge does not encompass your whole budget, but instead, it is a challenge to get you focused and push you to start saving money.

What is the envelope budgeting system?

The envelope budgeting method is a popular technique promoted by financial guru Dave Ramsey that uses envelopes to hold cash for each budget category.

The purpose of using cash to pay every bill is that you cannot spend more than you make. It is designed to get over-spending your income in control, so you learn to live on the amount of money you bring home from your job.

Essentially, the bill isn’t paid if there isn’t enough money to put into the envelope. For this reason, you should focus on paying your essential living expenses first, such as rent or your mortgage, utilities such as electricity, etc.

Once the necessary bills have the required amount of money allocated, you can dive into the unnecessary or luxury budget categories such as eating out and recreation.

For example, if you have a budget category for entertainment, cash could only go into your envelope labeled entertainment if you had enough money left to fund that category.

Does the 100 Envelope Challenge work to increase your savings account balance?

Yes, it works if you follow it and stick to the plan for the entire 100 days.

Like any challenge or goal, it will work if it is followed.

For example, if I want to lose 25 pounds, I can’t eat the same way I have been eating for the duration of the diet and expect to lose weight. I must make changes if I truly want to meet and make the goal work.

The 100 Envelope Challenge works the same way.

For example, if you have a budget category for entertainment, cash could only go into your envelope labeled entertainment if you had enough money left to fund that category.

Pro Money Tip

If you decide to do this challenge and you don’t stick to the plan for the full 100 days, the money you save is still a quick win as long as you leave it in your savings account and don’t withdraw it.

How much money do you save in the 100-day money-saving challenge?

I created a chart to see how the money adds up to 5,050 dollars when you complete the 100 Envelope Challenge.

100 Envelope Challenge – Do the Math

100 Envelope Challenge - Do the Math

Envelope 1


Envelope 26


Envelope 51


Envelope 76


Envelope 2


Envelope 27


Envelope 52


Envelope 77


Envelope 3


Envelope 28


Envelope 53


Envelope 78


Envelope 4


Envelope 29


Envelope 54


Envelope 79


Envelope 5


Envelope 30


Envelope 55


Envelope 80


Envelope 6


Envelope 31


Envelope 56


Envelope 81


Envelope 7


Envelope 32


Envelope 57


Envelope 82


Envelope 8


Envelope 33


Envelope 58


Envelope 83


Envelope 9


Envelope 34


Envelope 59


Envelope 84


Envelope 10


Envelope 35


Envelope 60


Envelope 85


Envelope 11


Envelope 36


Envelope 61


Envelope 86


Envelope 12


Envelope 37


Envelope 62


Envelope 87


Envelope 13


Envelope 38


Envelope 63


Envelope 88


Envelope 14


Envelope 39


Envelope 64


Envelope 89


Envelope 15


Envelope 40


Envelope 65


Envelope 90


Envelope 16


Envelope 41


Envelope 66


Envelope 91


Envelope 17


Envelope 42


Envelope 67


Envelope 92


Envelope 18


Envelope 43


Envelope 68


Envelope 93


Envelope 19


Envelope 44


Envelope 69


Envelope 94


Envelope 20


Envelope 45


Envelope 70


Envelope 95


Envelope 21


Envelope 46


Envelope 71


Envelope 96


Envelope 22


Envelope 47


Envelope 72


Envelope 97


Envelope 23


Envelope 48


Envelope 73


Envelope 98


Envelope 24


Envelope 49


Envelope 74


Envelope 99


Envelope 25


Envelope 50


Envelope 75


Envelope 100










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Here is a further breakdown of a few of the facts about this money-saving challenge:

  • When you have filled envelopes 1-10, you will have $55 saved
  • When you have filled envelopes 1-25, you will have $325 saved.
  • When you have filled envelopes 1-50, you will have $1,275 saved.
  • When you have filled envelopes 1-75, you will have $2,850 saved.
  • When you have stuffed all 100 envelopes, you will have cash equal to $5,050 for a down payment, emergency fund, extra money, etc.

What supplies do you need for the 100-day envelope challenge?

If you decide to move forward and jump into the 100 Envelope Challenge, you will need a few specific items to get started. You may already have these in your office supplies.

Envelopes – a basic white without a privacy interior lining will save you money

Sharpie or marker – needed to write the numbers on your envelopes

The following items are optional, but they are a fun way to add a bit of pizzazz:

Stickers – fun to add to the envelope seal after you put cash inside

Colored envelopes – putting money in fun envelopes is an option but far from a necessity

Box or container – a place to keep all your envelopes in one place that is secure with your cash

2448 Pcs Teacher Reward Encouraging Confetti Sticker Mega Pack in 48 Designs (Each Measures 1” in Diameter)
120-Pack #10 Business Mailing Colorful Envelopes in 6 Assorted Colors, Gummed V-Flap Seal for Party Invitations, Checks, Invoices, Letters, Notes, Photos (4.125 x 9.5 in)
2448 Pcs Teacher Reward Encouraging Confetti Sticker Mega Pack in 48 Designs (Each Measures 1” in Diameter)

Free Download – 100 Envelope Challenge Printable Tracking Form

100 envelope challenge plain tracking form
100 envelope challenge numbered tracking form

Stay on track with a visual to monitor your progress through the challenge.

Download the free tracking form featured above by using the button below. I included several versions to pick from!

Who should do the 100 Envelope Challenge?

If this challenge aligns with your financial goals and the following holds true, you should hop on board!


  • You have extra cash left over each month after the essential bills are paid
  • You consistently save money every single month and are ready to start saving more aggressively
  • Money management is a personal challenge, and you want to get it under control
  • You don’t set savings goals, or if you do, you fail to follow them, even when you have money left over each month that could be saved
  • You have no debt
    • High-interest debt should be paid off with excess cash

Who should not do the 100 Envelope Challenge?

A challenge variation (a version with smaller dollar amounts) is best for people that are:

  • Living paycheck to paycheck because the budget is genuinely tight (not just from reckless spending)
  • Going through or getting ready to go through a significant life change that will impact finances
  • Feeling anxiety over money because their budget isn’t balanced (typically, this means there are more expenses than income)
  • Not in a permanent job, so income varies day to day, week to week, or month to month

Example: If you start the 100 Envelope Challenge and the first day you draw the #96 envelope, the second day you pull the #82 envelope, and the third day you draw the #99 envelope, how are you going to feel?

Are you going to:

  1. Have a meltdown but still scrambling to figure out how to get cash in the envelopes because you don’t want to fail
  2. Say to yourself, “I knew I couldn’t do this; I didn’t really want to do it anyway”
  3. Go to the bank and get the cash to stuff the envelope

If you answered #1 or #2, it is not the right time in your life to start this challenge. Start a less stressful challenge so you can start saving a smaller amount and still build a good habit.

We have a complete series of articles on converting your hourly wage to a yearly salary!

Income & Wage Guides

Go to all Income & Wages posts [whole series]

Other Fun (Smaller) Ways to Start Saving Money Consistently

  • Stop spending your loose change
  • Keep any change you get while shopping in a jar and don’t touch it. At the end of each month, count what you have saved (Find a Coinstar to cash it in)
  • Match what you spend on treats for yourself
    • Buy a coffee for $1.50, and put $1.50 in a jar to save
  • Join a round-up program at your bank or credit union
    • Every time you use your debit card, your financial institution rounds up the amount to the nearest dollar and adds it to a savings account for you

Is the 100-day money challenge a good way to save money fast?

Yes, this challenge can save money quickly if you have the daily cash to follow it.

If you have never saved this much money before in this amount of time because it wasn’t available for you to save (because you needed it for living expenses), it isn’t an excellent way to try to get on the spending train.

There are better ways that will be much less stressful for you!

What are variations of the 100 Envelope Challenge?

This money-saving challenge is fun and a great visual to get more money in a place where it isn’t as easily accessible to spend.

If the original plan is too tough right now, one of the variations may fit your circumstances.

What is the 200 Envelope Challenge?

The 200 Envelope Challenge follows the same concept as the 100 Envelope challenge.

However, it is a more realistic way to save $5,000 because you save this amount over 200 days instead of 100 days.

Follow the same guidelines and add an extra 100 numbered envelopes to start filling with cash!

How much money do you save with the 200 Envelope Challenge?

If you follow the 200 Envelope Challenge each day, at the end of 200 days, you will have accrued $5,100.

How can I save $5,000 in 6 months with 100 envelopes?

This is a significant variation to start the habit of saving money with a little bit more flexibility.

Get 100 envelopes and label them #1-100.

Randomly select two envelopes a week and add the amount of cash to the envelope with the number on it.

What is the 50 Envelope Challenge?

Number 50 envelopes #1-50, mix them up, pull one out each day, and place the amount of cash in the envelope that corresponds with the number.

When all 50 envelopes are completed, you will have accrued $1,275 cash to add to your vacation budget, bank account, etc.

Free Take-Home Pay Calculator: Check out our free Wages Calculator to figure your take-home Pay (income after taxes are deducted.)

Other Money-Saving Challenges to Consider

There are dozens of other money-saving challenges to boost your effort to build up your cash reserves and save extra money.

You could choose one of the variations of the 100-day money challenge or even create your own variation that fits into your life.

Keep in mind as long as you are saving any amount, it will all add up and help you in the long run.

Why You Shouldn’t Do the 100 Envelope Challenge [Key Takeaways]

The 100 Envelope Challenge can help save money, but it may not work for everyone, depending on their financial situation.

For example, one problem could be not having at least $100 cash to start.

When people begin the 100 envelope challenge, they need an allotment of cash to have enough to fill the envelopes for each day’s activities. If you don’t have any spare cash, it might be tough to save quickly using this method.

If it isn’t something you think you could do, try one of the variations to see what fits into your life.

Take control of your spending and saving habits by being mindful each time you spend or save money!

If you want to start a budget and need a little help, starting with a budget book or budget template will make the job seem simple! We have you covered for both!

Find the best budget planner to meet your needs at 10 Best Budget Planner Book Choices: Take Control of your Finances or hop over to 20 Free Printable Budget Templates for 2022 (no email signup required!) to pick up a free budget template!

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Author – Dr. Tawna Schmidt

Founder of Smart Mom HQ, Dr. Schmidt has been working with moms, kids, and families as an educator and consultant since 1990. Her mission is to keep daily life simple so moms can enjoy each milestone with their children and appreciate all the special moments each new day brings.

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Last update on 2023-05-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API