by Damon Carr, For New Pittsburgh Courier
In March 2021, I received an inbox message from Lisa. She informed me that she was inspired to start an Envelope Saving Challenge after watching a TikTok video. She included a copy of the video. She stated that she started this Challenge in February 2021. By March 4, 2021, the day she sent me the message, she informed me that she had saved $400. My response was, “Cool! Whatever works.” Her response was, “a little side savings.” We both responded with laughing emojis. I tabled it as something to review later but I never got around to it.
Saving money is the cornerstone of sound money management. Saving money is how you create financial stability, financial security, and financial independence. Sadly, Americans grossly under save money. We live in a culture and an economy that thrives on spending money. From the moment we open our eyes in the morning until the time we close our eyes to go to sleep, we’re inundated with marketing messages via TV, Radio, Print, Social Media, and Podcast with one goal in mind—to extract money out of our pockets into theirs.
At first when Lisa told me she’d save $400 doing this challenge, I thought, How cute! But when she messaged me on New Year’s Day with a stack of cash totaling $4,610 from this same challenge she got my attention!
Lisa sent me a message saying “Happy New Years! I’m counting the money I saved last year from the challenge. I’m doing this challenge again this year.” She included a picture of a pile of money that stacked up to be at least 3-feet high. I literally stared at the picture of the money for about 2-minutes before reading the rest of her message. She goes on to say, “I saved a total of $4,610”. I thought to myself what a nice thing to wake up to on New Year’s Day. This is something I can encourage my readers and I to partake in. I picked up the phone and called her immediately. Below is a portion of the conversation.
Damon: What inspired you to start the Challenge?
Lisa: A friend of mine whom I work with saw the video. She showed it to me. I said let’s do it. We did it together. I was able to save $4,610. She was able to save $4,666. The difference in how much we saved is because she rounded up some of her weekly savings. Had we started the challenge in January as opposed to February, we would have both saved approximately $5.000 each.
Damon: What were some challenges you had doing the challenge? How did you overcome them?
Lisa: The challenges came in when we would pull two envelopes with large amounts. We decided that it would be easier to break the envelopes up into two groups: 1-50 and 51-100. We’d pull one envelope from each group so that the total amount we must save for the week wasn’t too overbearing.
Damon: What helped you stay the course?
Lisa: We stayed on track by motivating each other. We work together. We’re also good friends. We talked about it weekly to ensure we both were stuffing envelopes with cash.
Damon: How do you plan on spending the money?
Lisa: My friend and I who did the challenge with me will go to Las Vegas to celebrate her birthday. I don’t plan on spending too much money. I like having this pile of cash.
Damon: What are some key lessons you learned doing the challenge?
Lisa: We both were elated and happy that we stayed the course and saved money. It wasn’t as hard as we thought it would be. It was easier to squirrel away a few dollars here and there using this process as opposed to trying to save large lump sums. It taught us discipline. It’s good to do it with a partner or group. Doing so will help you stay motivated and keep you accountable.
- Set A Saving Goal: Put that money on a mission. Establish a reason for why you’re saying this money. Having a goal will create purpose, passion, discipline and consistency to stay the course.
- Purchase 100 Envelopes: Write numbers on each envelope starting with number 1 to 100
- Create 2 separate piles: Place envelopes from 1-50 in one pile. Place envelopes from 51-100 in a second pile. The reason we’re creating two separate piles is to ensure the challenge remains practical and doable. You’ll pick one envelope from each pile thus confirming your weekly total never surpasses $150 in each week.
- Shuffle the Envelopes: Shuffle the pile of envelopes from 1-50. Place them in a folder. Place a divider in the folder to separate pile 1-50 from pile 51-100. Shuffle the pile from 51-100. Place them in a folder.
- Pull a number: Once per week pull a number from each pile. The number on the envelope represents the amount you must save for the week. So, if you pull envelope 12 from one pile and envelope 51 from the other pile, you’ll have to insert a total of $63 for that week into the envelopes—placing the corresponding amount is $12 in one envelope and $51 in the other envelope.
- Payday = Stuff the envelopes with Cash: All of us are on different pay schedules. It could be weekly, biweekly, bimonthly, or monthly. Depending on what day you get paid, you could have a total Four envelopes to stuff if paid biweekly. Four to six envelopes to stuff if paid bimonthly. Eight envelopes to stuff if paid monthly. No worries. It will balance out. The more frequent your paychecks, the smaller your paycheck. Conversely, the less frequent your paychecks, the larger your paycheck.
- This will be a 50-week challenge. Our end date for stuffing Envelopes will be mid-December. However, we will not open and calculate our hard earned, hard saved money until Jan 1, 2022
- Total savings will be about $5,000 once the dust settles.
- Place Folder of Envelopes in a safe secure location—preferably inside of a waterproof, fireproof safe.
- We did it! 50-weeks from now, we’d be saying We did it. That goal we established in step one. Go out and enjoy the benefits and pleasures of that goal!
- Married couples—Your choice: You can merge forces and take on one challenge together—or you can both do a separate challenge. If you both do it, you’d be looking at approximately $10,000 come next January
(Damon Carr, Money Coach can be reached at 412-216-1013 or visit his website at www.damonmoneycoach.com)