Are you wanting to save money but like to count your cash? The 200 envelope challenge is a fun and simple way for you to save enough money to make it a real goal while being realistic about what you can afford.
You’ve no doubt heard of the 100 envelope challenge where you save $5050 in just 100 days. But what if your income doesn’t allow you to save that kind of cash in such a short space of time?
Thats where the 200 day envelope challenge comes in. It uses the same principle of having a daily target to save money and, using 200 envelopes, turns it into a more realistic challenge. Ideal for those who don’t have $1500 of spare cash in their budget each month.
Do you like the idea of an envelope challenge but have a modest income? Yep, me too. I like to challenge myself but I don’t earn much so spreading out this challenge over 200 days is much better than a difficult 3 months.
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what is the 100 day envelope money saving challenge?
The 100 envelope money saving challenge is a personal finance challenge that involves saving money into envelopes every day. The goal of the challenge is to save $5,050 in envelopes by the end of 100 days using only one envelope for each day. Many people have said it helped them save more money than they thought possible because it allowed them to see their savings grow daily.
But you need to take a little time to do the math to make sure the 100 envelope challenge total in any given week or month is practical given your overall budget.
What’s the difference between the 200 and the 100 day envelope challenges?
The difference between the 200 envelope challenge and doing it over 100 days is exactly that. It’s the length of time the challenge runs for.
You save almost the same amount ($5000) but in double the length of time. 200 days versus 100 days. Everything else is pretty much the same. Saving cash daily into a numbered envelope.
how does the 200 envelope challenge work?
It’s very simple. Fill one envelope with cash every day for 200 days. But you have to be honest with yourself about what your budget is and your ability to save money for 200 days straight.
If you want to take part in the 200 Envelope Challenge, the first step is to get yourself 200 envelopes. Then you need to choose how you will mark your envelopes in order to save money. You can:
- Number your envelopes 1-50 and repeat another 3 times. E.g. you have 4 envelopes labelled 5, 4 labelled 6 and so on. Or,
- On the first 100 envelopes, write a number from 1-100. The second set of 100 envelopes leave blank.
Shuffle your envelopes and place them in a box.
To start your money envelopes challenge you pick an envelope at random and put the amount of money from that envelope inside of it and stash it away somewhere safe. E.g. if you pick envelope number 37 then place $37 inside.
If you are using the 2nd method above then each day you draw a blank envelope is a day off finding the cash to squirrel away!
This challenge works by picking an envelope at random every day for 200 days until you have picked all the envelopes. When you successfully do this you will have saved $5,100.
Why complete the 200 envelope challenge?
You should complete the 200 envelope challenge if you want an exercise that helps you save money quickly and effectively. It involves saving $5,100 in a little over 6 months. Many people like this challenge because it suits their lower income better than other envelope challenges. Seeing your cash grow daily is a great motivator too.
There are several reasons why completing the 200 envelope challenge is a great idea:
- It helps you get organized and saves you money.
- It can help you build your savings account.
- It teaches you how to live within your means.
the 200 envelope challenge budget math explained
It sounds simple enough, 200 envelopes numbered 1-50 and you fill one each day. Or 100 envelopes number 1-100 and 100 blank ones.
But you need to take a little time to do the math to make sure the 200 envelope challenge total in any given week or month is practical given your overall budget.
Examples of the 1-200 envelope challenge total that can happen:
- Day 1 – you pull envelope number 4 = $4 saved
- Day 2 – you pull envelope number 7 = $7 saved
- Day 3 – you pull envelope number 13 = $13 saved
In 3 days your total saved is $24 – easy peasy you might think. But what happens if you pull the following envelopes instead?
- Day 1 – you pull envelope number 49 = $49 saved
- Day 2 – you pull envelope number 47 = $47 saved
- Day 3 – you pull envelop number 50 = $50 saved
In 3 days you are now trying to stuff $146 into envelopes. Painful!
If your budget does not stretch to this kind of cash saving on a daily basis then chose a variation from below or make up your own.
You could separate the blank envelopes out and pull one of those every other day. This makes sure you never have to save more than $100 in a 2 day period.
Or you could keep the envelopes numbered 1-50 in chronological order and take from an envelope from the top of the pile and from the bottom of the pile on consecutive days. This ensures you have a low numbered envelope every other day.
Alternatively you could stretch the 200 envelope challenge to 9 months, 12 months or longer. Your money, your choices.
Tools needed to organize your challenge
To be successful with your challenge there are a few supplies you’re going to need. Nothing fancy but being organized makes the challenge easier and making it colorful and arty makes it more of a pleasure.
- White envelopes – for your cash!
- Color markers (fun) or black marker – to number each envelope
- Cash! – unless you are doing the digital version (see below)
- Container – a box or container the right size to hold your envelopes makes the whole process a little more special and fun
downsides to the 200 envelope savings challenge
Drawbacks to the 200-day money challenge are that it is too hard for some people, especially those on a low income or with high outgoings. It can also be difficult to stick to if you have a lot of expenses or if you like to spend money on things like food and entertainment.
You cannot earn interest on the money in the envelopes so you’re effectively losing a little money each day. And finally, it’s a lot of money to come up with day after day, so you may find it difficult to keep going for the full 200 days.
who shouldn’t do the 200 envelope Cash challenge
Some people may be better off not doing the 200-day money challenge. The challenge is difficult for those who struggle with saving money, as the challenge means putting aside a good amount of money each and every day.
It can also be overwhelming for you if you are struggling to manage your finances, as it can feel like there is no limit to how much you have to save each day.
If you don’t get paid in cash then the challenge is that much harder as it will require regular withdrawals of cash in order to fill your envelopes. And finally, it’s a lot of dosh to be stuffing into envelopes and leaving around the house for almost a year which some people may not be comfortable with.
Why should i do the 200 day envelope challenge?
You should do the 200 day envelope challenge because it is a great way to build up your savings or save for a house down payment, because you’re not tempted to spend the money. You put a set amount of money into an envelope every day and don’t touch it. You can also use this method to pay down debt or for other financial goals.
200 day envelopes savings challenge variations
You can of course vary this daily envelope money challenge to suit your savings goal. Maybe you want to save $5000 or even $10,000. You can save money however you want to. Here’s a few variations to consider:
200 envelope challenge for tight budgets
If you are living on a tight budget and have little spare cash then the idea of saving $5100 in 200 days might feel too much initially.
That doesn’t mean you can’t be saving money using the envelope method. You just need to find or create one that fits your individual circumstances. Not too easy but not beyond difficult.
After all, if you’re on a low income you might not even have $500 a month after paying your essential bills.
- You could have envelopes numbers 0.5 – 100.
- Or envelopes numbers 1-20 and 10 sets of them. i.e. you have 10 envelopes numbered 1, 10 of them numbered 2 and so on.
- You could even have some envelopes numbered 0 to give yourself a random day off!
Choose the best money envelope ideas that are going to work for your finances then create 200 envelopes with numbers that add up to your savings goal total. Whether it’s $500, $1000 or $2500 or something else.
If your budget is really tight then why not try the 50 envelope challenge instead? One envelope a week for 50 weeks. Simples!
200 Envelope 52 Week Challenge
This variation is not quite as painful as the orignal version of 200 days. Saving 5k in a year can be doable for many more people if you really put your mind to it.
Use the same 200 envelopes marked 1-200. Pick and fill four envelopes a week. After 50 weeks (you can have a 2 week vacation from the challenge if you want!) you will have saved $10,000. Again, I strongly urge you to consider doing this challenge digitally.
For more year long challenges you could try check out my post on the best 52 week money challenges.
200 Envelope Challenge $10,000
This challenge is flexible. Basically, you have 200 envelopes and you want to save $10,000. Your envelopes are all numbered 50 (200 x $50 = $10,000) but the timescale is entirely down to you. Pick and fill an envelope every day, twice a day, twice a week or something else. Complete this challenge in 3 months, 6 months, 1 year or longer, the choice is yours.
For more help saving $10,000 check out my post on how to save 10000 in 6 months.
how you can do the 200 day money envelope challenge digitally
Follow the 200 envelope challenge process of having numbered envelopes and picking one each day. You need to have or set up a separate savings account that is ring fenced for this challenge.
Instead of filling each envelope with the cash sum required, have a separate bank account that you will transfer money into digitally.
For example, if the envelope you have picked is no.49 then instead of putting $49 of cash into the envelope, transfer $49 into your savings account. Do the same each day, transfering money digitally instead of stuffing wads of cash into envelopes at home.
The plus side to doing a digital challenge is there is no need to find an ATM and withdraw cash on a regular basis. It also means you won’t have up to $5100 hanging around the house as you near the end of the challenge.
How much will I save in a 200 envelope challenge?
If you follow the original 200 day money saving challenge and successfully complete it then you will save $5100 in 200 days. Now that could be a huge stretch for you but if you achieve it, wow! What a great achievement it is.
200 envelope challenge: is it for me?
Many people have watched the TikTok videos on envelope challenges to see if they can save money. However, not everyone can do this. The key is that you must have the motivation to save money, then this challenge might be for you.
It’s a great way to motivate yourself and create an emergency fund, pay down debt or take a vacation. This technique will help you do all of these things within a very short space of time.
The 200-day challenge is an excellent tool to save just over 5000 in 200 days, but wanting to do it and having enough money to do it are two different things.
Accepting the challenge doesn’t make you bank balance any better or worse. You still need to be able to afford to save this kind of money if you really cut back on spending.
For lots of ideas on alternative challenges that you can do check out these posts:
money tips to help you complete the 200 envelope challenge
The key to being successful with this challenge is to get your finances in good shape. Make sure you have set a budget that will allow for regular, random savings. You may also want to consider the following tips:
- Make your own coffee
- Cut cable TV
- Change your cell phone plan
- Keep utility bills down (negotiate or change provider)
- Use less energy by doing things like turning lights off and lowering your thermostat
- Eat out less
- Meal plan
- Buy generic brands to reduce your grocery bill
- Drink more water
- Shop around for your insurances (don’t auto renew)
Worried about pulling those envelopes?
If you’re worried you wouldn’t be able to afford two high numbers back to back e.g. 50 and 49 then split your 200 envelopes into 4 piles. 1-20, 21-30, 31-40 and 41-50.
Pulling an envelope from a low numbered pile and the following day a higer numbered pile means you won’t get hit with 2 very high numbered envelopes. This makes sticking with the challenge more feasible.
If you have chosen to number your 200 envelopes 1-100 and the second set left blank then split them into those piles. Pull a blank envelope and then a numbered envelope on consecutive days.
There’s nothing to stop you from switching the envelopes you have pulled for another one if it’s the day before payday and money is tight. Just remember that each money envelope needs to be picked and filled in order to complete the challenge.
You could complete a progress chart and place it somewhere that you will see it always so you’re able to keep track of how far along you are in your challenge.
cash envelope savings challenge FAQs
how many months in 200 days?
There are roughly 6.5 months in 200 days. Given that a month is not the same number of days, the answer to how many months in 200 days will depend on when your 200 days starts from. The rough formula is divide 200 days by 30.5 which gives the answer of 6.5 months.
how can i save $1000 in 3 months?
You can save $1000 in 3 months by setting aside $84 every week from your paycheck. Paid monthly? Set aside $333.33 each month. To save $1000 in a short time-frame means finding ways to spend less. Eat out less, have a clothes shopping ban, have no-spend days. Pack your lunch and focus on cutting your grocery bill. These actions together can easily result in $1000 saved.
How can I save $5000 in 3 months with 100 envelopes?
You can save $5000 in 3 months with 100 envelopes by following the original 100 envelope savings challenge. You number each envelope 1-100 then fill one each day. The challenge works by picking an envelope at random every day for 100 days until you fill all the envelopes. When you successfully do this you will have saved $5,050.
how can i save $5000 in 3 months?
You can save $5000 in 3 months by using the 200 envelope challenge. Pick 2 envelopes every day and save money that way. Or use the 5k in 100 days challenge and save daily. Alternatively you could ring fence part of your paychecks for the next 3 months to save $5000.
- If you are paid monthly then you need to save $1666.66 every month
- If you are biweekly paid then you need to save $833.33 each paycheck
If you get a biweekly paycheck then your money will work best when you budget biweekly and save the same way. That’s why I’ve created a biweekly money saving challenge just for you. In fact I create 5 of them – we all like a bit of choice don’t we?
Free Printable 200 Envelope Challenge Chart Trackers
If you’re not doing the digital version, or even if you are, having a printable 200 envelope challenge tracker that you can use to track your progress is fun.
It makes it visible, you can have fun coloring it in with different colors and track your progress.In my resource library there are two free 100 envelope challenge pdfs for you to use. Use either one and print them out twice so you can cover all 200 days of your money saving challenge.
One is ready to go and numbered 1-100. The second is blank. Ideal for you to use if you choose an alternative way to save over the 200 days.
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Last Updated on 5th April 2022 by Emma