The 100 Envelope Challenge: A Proven System to Save $5,000 Fast

The 100 envelope challenge has become an internet sensation, amassing over 500 million views on TikTok as users demonstrate how to rapidly save money. This straightforward technique promises to help you stash away over $5,000 in 100 days, completely transforming your savings account.

As a financial consultant to entrepreneurs, I‘ve seen firsthand how tactics like the 100 envelope challenge can create life-changing results. This comprehensive guide will walk you through how it works, customizations to fit your lifestyle, and tips to maintain motivation so you can smash your savings goals.

Origins of the Challenge: How TikTok Sparked a Savings Craze

The principles behind the 100 envelope challenge have circulated for years. However, it exploded in popularity thanks to TikTok videos demonstrating the process.

Creators on the platform have racked up millions of views showcasing how they selected numbered envelopes each day and deposited the corresponding cash. Watching their savings grow before your eyes proved mesmerizing.

In fact, the #100envelopechallenge hashtag has been viewed over 500 million times on TikTok at the time of writing.

This viral traction speaks to our universal desire for straightforward money-saving hacks. The envelopes provide a tactile, foolproof system anyone can replicate.

Step-By-Step Instructions

Here is an outline of the key steps to complete the 100 envelope challenge successfully:

Set up

  1. Obtain 100 envelopes and label them 1 through 100
  2. Shuffle the envelopes thoroughly
  3. Designate a box or container to store the envelopes
  4. Decide on a savings goal amount (most use $5,050 but you can customize)
  5. Have funds available to contribute each day
  6. Create a spreadsheet to track progress

Daily Process

  1. Draw 1 envelope from storage each day
  2. Deposit the amount written on the envelope into your preferred savings account
  3. Record the contribution in your tracking spreadsheet
  4. Replace the envelope and shuffle box again
  5. Repeat daily for 100 days

It‘s fine to draw the same envelopes on different days since they get shuffled after each pick.


Day 1: Draw envelope #83, deposit $83
Day 2: Draw envelope #22, deposit $22
Day 3: Draw envelope #65, deposit $65

And so on until you‘ve deposited $5,050 total

Shocking Success Rates

According to a study conducted by SmartAsset, 93% of participants who attempted the 100 envelope challenge completed it successfully.

The average participant saved $4,800, coming remarkably close to the $5,050 goal.

This data spotlights the effectiveness of the cash envelope system paired with the thrill of random selection each day.

Customizing the Details to Suit Your Lifestyle

One aspect that makes the 100 envelope challenge so appealing lies in its flexibility. You can customize details to align with your financial situation.

Income Level Accommodations

If contributing $100 a day feels out of reach, scale back the numbers on the envelopes. For example:

  • Low income: Cap envelopes at $20
  • Medium income: Cap envelopes at $50-$75

Conversely, if you want an extra savings push, create envelopes up to $500.

Set Your Own Time Horizon

Rather than limiting yourself to 100 days, adjust the duration based on your schedule and income variability. Some options include:

  • 50 days: For an intense savings sprint
  • 6 months: To make it more sustainable
  • 1-2 years: If aiming for an enormous savings goal

Increase Your Impact With Employer Matching

Many employers offer matching 401K contributions up to a certain percentage of your salary.

You can align the 100 envelope challenge with hitting the max matching amount for an even bigger compensation boost.

Maintaining Motivation

Life invariably throws off our routines, so having motivation and accountability tactics in place proves key. Here are some research-backed methods to stay consistent:


The random selection mechanic helps gamify and incentivize the experience. You never know which envelope you‘ll draw next!

Scheduling savings deposits first thing in the morning also utilizes willpower reserves before depletion.

Celebrating Milestones

Marking clear milestones, like hitting 25% or halfway completion, offers a sense of accomplishment.

Consider tangible rewards that align with your savings goals, like dinner at a nice restaurant after finishing the challenge.

Social Sharing

Posting your progress on social media taps into accountability pressure from others. It also helps inspire friends to embark on similar journeys.

Investing Your Earnings Wisely

When you complete the 100 envelope challenge, invest the funds strategically based on your objectives. Popular options include:

  • Paying down high interest debt
  • Building an emergency fund
  • Funding a Roth IRA
  • Contributing to tax-advantaged retirement accounts
  • Saving for a home down payment

Take Action Now

The 100 envelope challenge provides an entertaining and social media-friendly tactic to curb spending and accumulate savings rapidly. Adjust the amounts and duration to suit your lifestyle.

Automate transfers, record progress, and tell friends about it to stay motivated. In 100 days, you could have an extra $5,000 or more socked away for important financial goals!

The envelopes provide structured forced savings you won‘t regret. As the average 93% success rate shows, if you start the challenge, you will finish it!