The money challenge that could help you save $5k in 3 months


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Most of us wish it were easier to save money, whether we’re the sort of person who’s having trouble making ends meet or the kind who wants to save up for a big purchase. Here’s one simple solution: The 100 Envelope Challenge. It’s a creative and easy way to save money. If you commit to the challenge, you can save $5,000 in just three months.


Here’s a closer look at this clever way to stash some cash. We’ll review what daily money saving challenges are, such as the 100 Envelope Challenge and other variations on the theme, and how to put them to work for you. Whichever one you try, if you stick with it, you’ll have a major amount of moolah at the end of the exercise.

A Daily Money Saving Challenge

Daily money saving challenges help you save cash instead of spending it. The 100 Envelope Challenge is one of the latest trends in this kind of money hacking. It’s a great way to add more cash to an emergency fund or just help you manage your money with more focus and pumped-up results. This can be a fun daily activity that allows you to be more disciplined with your hard-earned cash. Instead of making impulse purchases, you’ll learn this smart saving habit that can get you excited about building up your money reserves for the future. Just one note: Most of these saving techniques involve cash (bills and coins), but there are some work-arounds if you are a person who mostly uses plastic.

What Is the 100 Envelope Challenge?

The 100 Envelope Money Challenge can be an easy way to save money and upgrade your budgeting skills. This challenge involves starting with 100 envelopes and labeling them from 1 to 100. Take the numbered envelopes and place them all in a large container or box.


Then, for the next 100 days, you randomly select an envelope from the container and put the amount of cash that’s labeled on the front inside the envelope. For example, if you pull out an envelope number 25, you place $25 in that envelope. Tuck that envelope somewhere safe, and repeat the process until you’ve reached the 100th day. That’s it: You’ve completed the challenge! And you now have $5,050 to deposit in savings, pay bills, spend, or invest.

How Can I Save $5,000 in 3 Months?

The 100 Envelope Challenge, as you’ve just read, is a gamified way to salt away more than $5,000 in three months. People who stick with the challenge daily for the 100 days will have $5,050. Obviously, the days where you pull a lower-number envelope are easier to manage than the day you grab an envelope that’s waiting to be stuffed with a whopping 90-some dollars. The tricky part is keeping up with the challenge, regardless of the amount required. It can be helpful to keep track of your progress by recording a running tally of how much is saved over the months. As you see the amount grow, it may help you stay motivated about saving money.


You may be concerned that this challenge requires an outlay of cash every single day for three months. What, you may wonder, will I do if I don’t have cash handy? Here’s some good news: This daily money saving challenge can be done digitally as well. In the digital method, you would still need 100 envelopes to pick from everyday. But instead of placing the money in physical envelopes, participants can open a new bank account that’s separate from their everyday savings account.


Perhaps your financial institution will even allow you to name the account “100 Envelope Challenge.” Link this account to your checking so you can transfer funds into it. When you pick an envelope with its designated number, transfer that amount to your new savings account.


In this version, you will still have $5,050 at the end of the 100-day challenge, even if you never handle any paper money during the 100 days. You may well emerge at the end of the challenge with a renewed appreciation of the fact that saving money is important.


Recommended: How to Transfer Money between Banks

Other Money Saving Challenges

There are a variety of creative ways to save money and build up your savings. It’s important to find one that feels like fun and fits your lifestyle and financial situation. You’ll be more likely to use it when managing your money. Here are some options to consider.

52-Week Money Challenge

The 52-week money challenge is another effective way to save for those who want to start out small and slowly work their way to saving more. This challenge involves saving $1 the first week, $2 the second week, $3 the third week and so on. The sequence continues until you reach week 52 when you save $52 dollars. If you stay consistent, at the end of this challenge, you will have saved a total of $1,378 over the course of a full year.


It’s an impressive amount of savings considering you never had to put in more than $52 per week. It shows that a little can eventually go a long way. This challenge can be especially effective because the amount of money stowed away each week is minimal. You may find you can complete this challenge without making much of a shift in your daily or monthly budgeting.

8-Week Vacation Savings Plan

If you have your sights set on taking a vacation, but aren’t sure how you’ll afford it, the 8-week vacation savings plan could be a perfect solution. It will help you speedily save money for a trip ($1,000 to be exact).


To participate, you’ll need to open a bank account devoted to vacation savings. Then, you save $1,000 by following this schedule of how much to save:

  • Week 1: $10
  • Week 2: $25
  • Week 3: $75
  • Week 4: $150
  • Week 5: $150
  • Week 6: $75
  • Week 7: $25
  • Week 8: $10

There’s something about that bell curve or “up the mountain, down the mountain” pattern to saving that makes it feel manageable.


Then, to save the rest of the $1,000, make some smart swaps. You may know some basic budgeting moves, like cooking at home instead of dining out. If, over the eight weeks, you cut out one $50 restaurant meal per week that’s $400 more saved that can go into your account.


If you have coffee at your home or office instead of getting a fancy espresso drink to go twice a week, that will save $10 per week. Over eight weeks, that’s the additional $80 that brings you to the $1,000 total.


Another tip: If you can afford it, try to save from your salary. You might set up automatic deductions that whisk some money out of your paycheck and move it into savings before you can spend it. These tactics will help you have a nice pile of cash so you can go on your getaway.

365-Day Nickel Savings Challenge

The 365-Day Nickel Savings Challenge is another way to accumulate a bundle of cash, and it starts with saving just a nickel a day. On day two, you set aside two nickels. On day three, you set aside three nickels and so on. Each day, you increase your savings by one more nickel.


This challenge goes on for a full year. On the last day of the challenge, you save $18.40 and your total savings for the 365 days will amount to $3,300. Similar to other money savings challenges, you start out small with this challenge. But in this case, you begin super-small (just loose change, actually) but you wind up gathering a significant amount when the challenge is complete.

Spare Change Challenge

The Spare Change Challenge allows you to save money using change you have around your home that you may have forgotten about. This can be as easy as taking loose change and adding it to a piggy bank. When it’s filled to the brim, take the jar and add the money to your savings account. Other people have variations on this theme. For example, they might make a point of paying for purchases with paper money, and then always putting the coins they get as change into a savings account. You’d be surprised at how those coins can add up to thousands of dollars over time.

Expense Tracking Challenge

Tracking your purchases can be a financially healthy exercise to know exactly how much you are spending on purchases. You can see in which categories your spending clusters, too. Doing this will help you realize if you’re making financially wise money decisions or if you are spending money on impulsive, possibly unnecessary purchases.


The Expense Tracking Challenge involves writing down your purchases for an entire month and reviewing what you bought. For some, creating the list as a spreadsheet may be easier. This exercise can reveal what type of spender you are and help you adjust money habits to be a smarter saver.

The Takeaway

Saving money challenges like the 100 Envelope Challenge can be a motivating and successful way to sock away some cash.


They typically have you start out by contributing a small amount of money such as just one dollar. These gamified savings techniques provide motivation for you to stash away cash and see your savings account steadily grow. Building your savings skills this way can help you save larger amounts in the future. Whether your goal is to afford a vacation or the down payment on a house, these challenges can help you start saving.


How much do you get from the 100 Envelope Challenge?

At the end of the 100 Envelope Challenge, which lasts 100 days, you will have saved exactly $5,050.

What is the 52-Week Savings Challenge?

The 52-Week Savings Challenge involves saving $1 the first week and increasing that amount by one dollar each week. By the end of the 52 weeks, you will have saved $1,378.

How can I save extra cash?

There are many ways to save extra cash. Using fun and simple money challenges can be a great way to get started saving for short-term goals or a big future purchase. Participating in the 100 Envelope Challenge, the 52-Week Savings Challenge, or even creating your own customized challenge can be a great way to improve your relationship with money.


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This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by


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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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Are you living beyond your means? Here’s how to tell


Living beyond your means is an easy trap to fall into. And if you’re not keeping close track of everything that’s coming in and going out of your financial account, you may not even realize you’re doing it. But if you often run out of money before the month is over and you don’t know exactly where all the money is going, it could be a sign that you’re living above your means.


Over time, living a lifestyle beyond what you can actually afford can lead to mounting debt and also keep you from reaching your financial goals.


Related: Budgeting for basic living expenses



NazariyKarkhut / istockphoto


Simply put, ”living above your means” means that you are spending more money than you are earning. People are able to do this by relying on credit cards, loans, and pior savings to cover their expenses. However, the process is not sustainable, and eventually overspending is likely to catch up to you.


Living beyond your means can also mean that you’re spending everything you bring in, and, as a result, don’t have anything left over for saving or investing, such as building an emergency fund, saving for a short-term goal like buying a car or a home, or putting money away for retirement.


Here are 10 red flags that you’re living a lifestyle you simply can’t afford — and tips for how to get back on track.


If most or all of your paycheck is spent immediately on bills and you don’t have anything left over at the end of the month to put into savings, you are likely living over your means and may need to make some adjustments. If your current lifestyle has become a habit, you may feel there is no place to cut back. However, if you get out your monthly statements for the past three months and take a close look at where all your money is going each month, you will likely find places where you can cut back on spending.


This might be ditching cable, cooking (instead of ordering take-out) a few more times per week or quitting the gym and working out at home.




If you’ve been putting a lot of your expenses on your credit card and/or don’t always pay your bills on time, you may see your credit score take a hit. This number is important because it can be accessed by anyone considering giving you new credit and may be used to determine the interest rate you’ll pay on a home or car loan, and also new credit cards.


If you aren’t sure what your credit score is, you can get a free copy of your reports from all three credit bureaus. Looking it over can help you understand why your credit score has dropped, and help you take the necessary steps to repair it.


For example, you might set up automatic payments for the minimum amount due on credit card bills and loans so you never miss a payment. You may also want to pay down your balances on your credit cards and lines of credit. This can lower your “credit utilization rate” (how much of your credit limit you are using), which is factored into your score.


If money is feeling a little tight, you may feel that now is not the time to worry about retirement. But you likely won’t be able to work forever, so it can be wise to make saving for retirement a priority and to get started early.


Thanks to compounding interest (which is when the interest you earn also starts earning interest), the earlier you start investing in a retirement fund, the easier it will be to save enough money to retire well. You don’t have to contribute a lot; even just putting aside a small amount of each paycheck into a 401(k) or IRA each month can help you build wealth over time.


Keeping your rent or mortgage below 30 percent of your monthly pre-tax income is sometimes recommended because it can leave you with enough income left over to save, invest, and build wealth in general.


Staying below 30 percent can be difficult, however, if you live in a region of the country where the cost of housing is high. Nevertheless, spending a lot more than a third of your income on housing can leave you “house poor” and put your other financial obligations at risk.


If you find that your housing costs are taking too large a chunk of your monthly paycheck, you might consider downsizing, taking on a roommate or finding a way to increase your income with a side hustle.




Another sign you may be living beyond your means is that your savings have stagnated. Making regular deposits into your savings account in addition to your 401(k) or IRA allows you to work towards your short- and medium-term financial goals, such as putting a downpayment on a home or a car or going on vacation.


Suwanmanee99 / istockphoto


An overdraft fee, or “non-sufficient funds fee,” is charged when there’s not enough money in your account to cover a check or debit card payment. Mistakes happen, and a one-off overdraft isn’t necessarily an indicator of overspending. But repeat offenses can be a sign that you are living too close to the edge and don’t have a clear picture of how much money is going into your account and how much is going out.


You may want to start tracking your spending and keeping a closer eye on your spending account to make sure you always have enough to cover your electronic payments.




Many people think making and following a budget will be too complicated. But having a budget can actually simplify your spending decisions by letting you know exactly what you can and can’t afford.


Having a budget also helps to ensure you have enough money to cover essentials, fun, and also sock some away in savings. If you’ve never set financial parameters for yourself, you may want to consider taking an honest inventory of how much you are bringing in each month and how much is going out each month.


Once you get a sense of your own patterns and habits, you can work toward building a realistic budget that allows you to spend and save more wisely.


Leasing a vehicle you would not be able to purchase outright or finance can be a major financial red flag. Leasing lets you rent a high-end lifestyle, but many people end up with leases they really can’t afford.


You might be covering your monthly payments, but if you can’t do that while meeting your other expenses and also putting money into savings, then your car is likely too expensive.


You may want to consider downgrading your vehicle or saving up enough money to buy a car — either outright or by making a solid downpayment so your monthly payments are low.


It’s fine to use your credit card to pay for everyday expenses and the occasional big purchase. But if you can’t pay off most of the balance each month, you’re likely living beyond your means.


Rather than give over part of your paycheck just to interest each month, you may want to cut back on nonessential spending and divert that money toward paying off your balances.


Rawpixel / istockphoto


Not having a stash of cash you can turn to in a pinch can be a sign that you’re overspending. You may be gambling on the fact that nothing will go wrong. But life is unpredictable, and getting hit with an unexpected expense you can’t pay for can lead to a financial crisis.


Instead, you may want to build an emergency fund that can cover three to six months worth of living expenses. That way, you’ll be covered should something happen, such as an illness or injury, job loss, housing issue or any other expensive personal matter should come up.




Unfortunately, living beyond your means is all too easy to do. And while a few weeks or months of spending more than you earn may not be a major problem, overspending on a regular basis will likely catch up to you in the form of high debt and neglected savings.


Creating (and sticking to) a spending budget can help ensure that you can afford your bills and basic expenses, and still have money left over to save for the things you want in the future.


Learn more:

This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by


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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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