May 25, 2024

The ‘Envelope Savings Challenge’ turns saving money into a fun game

The viral “envelope savings challenge” isn’t a new concept—pick a financial goal, then break that up into smaller, more achievable amounts over the course of several days or weeks—but it comes at the perfect time.

As the cost of living continues to rise, a recession in 2023 feels almost inevitable. A recent survey published by the Conference Board, a business-focused think tank, showed that 98% of CEOs expect one in the next year. A scary thought, but there are ways to minimise the effect it has on your finances. To start, experts are suggesting people cut unnecessary expenses—what TikTok has dubbed a “financial cleanse”—and focus on saving.

As a result, several budget challenges and saving games have gone viral across all social media platforms. According to Pinterest, more Gen X and millennials than ever are seeking out ways to “gamify their finances» in order to make saving more fun. Searches for “1000 savings challenge” and “100 envelope challenge” in particular have increased by 185% and 145%, respectively, on the platform.

That’s how Jasmine Taylor, also known as @baddiesandbudgets on TikTok, learned of the challenge. “I found out about it through Pinterest,” she says. “I created my own version and managed to complete the challenge twice the first year I attempted it. ” Taylor has since accumulated more than 600,000 followers on TikTok and operates a business that offers an online course as well as budget binders and cash envelope wallets to help participants succeed.

So how does it work? It’s called a challenge, but the process is quite simple. First, you need to decide how much you want to save. Is it £400 for a fancy new bag, or a longer-term goal like a downpayment on a mortgage? Once you have a financial goal in mind, create a time frame that’s feasible for you. Say it’s 100 days: You get 100 empty envelopes and write the numbers 1 to 100 on them. Then each day, for 100 days, randomly choose an envelope. Whatever number is on the front of the envelope you select for a given day, you put that amount of money into the envelope.

The envelope savings challenge is easy and exciting, which is what makes it so great for those who have financial anxiety or don’t know where to start. Says Deja Washington, a TikTok creator who learned about the challenge while on her debt-free journey, “Cash stuffing helped me be disciplined with my money, and the challenges made it fun. ”

In the below TikTok, Washington is saving $10,000 (£8,200) in 100 days. In her notebook she has written every day with each amount next to it. Every time she gets paid, she puts that amount in cash into the envelope. Once the money is in the envelope, she crosses out that day so she can keep track of her progress.

Taylor was also able to save thousands of pounds thanks to this method. “I saved over $11,000 (£9,000) in 2021 with it,” she says. “And I was able to make a large payment toward my student loan balance with the savings challenge funds. ”

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