Saving Money Doesn't Have to Be Difficult
Saving money is important, and that practice is especially important to most families nowadays. Most of our expenses are specific, recurring, and non-negotiable, like mortgage payments, car insurance, and your cell phone bill.
Of course, you can find a cheaper policy or plan, but that often takes a lot of research, effort, and time. However, there are two common expenses that are easier to curb than others -- your electricity bill and grocery bill.
I encourage you to make it all the way through the article because now, more than ever, every dollar counts. Once you finish, please leave us a comment to let us know which tips you found most helpful!
We Have One Solution and Tons of Tips
Regarding your electricity bill, please excuse this shameless plug. Energy Ogre was named one of the fastest-growing companies by Inc. Magazine, saving homeowners an average of 40% and close to $1,000 per year.
Even if you aren't ready to sign up after running the savings calculator, you'll know if Energy Ogre would be worth your time and money.
Now, let's talk about everyone's favorite subject -- food!
It seems obvious and almost insignificant, but a budget-conscious family can save hundreds -- maybe thousands -- of dollars each year by strategically buying their groceries. With these simple steps, you can start saving today!
17 Simple Steps to Save Big
Use a Grocery List
First and foremost, you need to go in with a game plan. Sure, it's a lot of fun to parade through your favorite grocery store, looking at all the tasty things you could buy. But doing so will tempt you to buy unnecessary snacks and items, which would ultimately lead to a waste of time and money. Stick to your list so you can get in and get out.
Stick to a Budget
I'd be willing to bet most people have an idea of how much they can spend either weekly, biweekly, or monthly on groceries. However, how many of us stick to that budget? If you can comfortably spend $50 per week, then don't spend a penny more.
Shop with a Calculator
Speaking of budgets, it's hard to simultaneously look for cheap groceries while mentally calculating how much you're about to spend. What's the solution? I suggest shopping with a calculator of some sort -- whether it's the calculator on your phone or your beloved TI-83 from high school (just for nostalgia's sake).
Pick and Choose New Recipes Carefully
Cooking a new, delicious dish can be exciting and rewarding. But it can also be stressful and expensive. For example, one night, I attempted homemade tomato soup instead of buying it pre-made. Unfortunately, I spent tons of money on various ingredients, and I wasted several hours trying to rectify the clumpy red monstrosity that filled my biggest pot. Throughout this experience, I learned to pick and choose recipes carefully. I also learned I'm terrible at making soup, and I will continue to buy it pre-made.
Plan Your Meals Ahead
Do you have a few favorite recipes? If so, make them regularly, and in doing so, plan your shopping list accordingly. If you plan to cook dinner most nights, make three or four recipes and eat them as leftovers. This will make grocery shopping easier, cheaper, and you'll save time every other night by not having to cook dinner.
Recreate Your Go-To Dish from Your Favorite Restaurant
Do you miss those cheesy enchiladas from that Mexican restaurant? Craving that juicy burger from the place down the street? Well, then try to recreate it at home for your family! Chances are you can do a decent job cooking it yourself while saving a lot of money. Here's an awesome and potentially disappointing resource that shows how much we overpay for food at restaurants. Not to mention, you don't have to tip yourself, amirite?
Leave the Kids Home or with Someone
"Mommy, can we get some cookie dough?" "Daddy, can we get enough potato chips to fill the entire pantry?" Kids are cute, but they are money-spending machines, especially at the grocery store. Do yourself and your budget a favor, and head to the store without them!
Eat Before You Shop
We've all shopped on an empty stomach before, but we should avoid making it a habit. Just like Snickers always says, "You're not you when you're hungry!" I promise you'll spend way more money on impulse items that you don't truly need.
Use What You Have
Before you plan to cook a favorite recipe or perhaps make a new one, plan your next meal with ingredients you already have at home. Whether its' a can of enchilada sauce or some frozen shrimp, either ingredient is a good foundation to base your next meal on. Using what you have will make your grocery shopping experience easier and cheaper! Also, it prevents foods from expiring or taking up too much room in what is most probably a cramped fridge or pantry.
Do I need to elaborate? Yes, even in 2020, coupons still exist. In fact, chances are your favorite grocery stores have an app where you can download digital coupons onto your phone. Some stores also post coupons on their website. Below are some stores that either offer coupons via app or online.
**If prompted, enter in your ZIP code to find coupons for your preferred location
Central Market: Weekly Specials > Weekly Savor > Select your city
I promise the generic chips will still taste good with your salsa, and the unbranded adhesive bandages will work just like their expensive counterparts. This can potentially be one of the easiest ways to cut costs at the grocery store or your local drug store.
Try Meatless Mondays
You don't have to be vegetarian or vegan to refrain from eating meat for a meal or two. A no-meat meal can spur creativity and challenge you to think outside the box (or in this case the fridge). Meanwhile, you'll also avoid needing to use a pricy cut of meat, which is typically the most expensive ingredient in every meal. Allow me to recommend some tomato soup (BUT NOT THE SAME RECIPE AS MY AFOREMENTIONED RED MONSTROSITY) and a lovely grilled cheese?
Don't Buy Bottled Water
Based on an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study, the average cost per gallon of bottled water was $1.21 in 2013. The study also concluded the cost for a thousand gallons of tap water is only $2. I'm not a mathematician or anything, but that means bottled water is 600x more expensive than tap water. So yeah, grab a water filter, and you'll be amazed by the savings. This $22 filter has more than 6,000 reviews and has 4 stars!
Make Your Own Coffee
Driving to Starbucks or popping in your favorite Keurig cup will satisfy your caffeine craving. However, either java-inducing method is much more expensive than using old-school coffee grinds. What's the solution? You can still use your Keurig while saving money, but we recommend using a reusable K-Cup. Business Insider did the math, and the results are staggering. Putting coffee grinds into a reusable K-Cup can save the average homeowner more than $400 per year.
Shop with Cash to Avoid Overspending
Most people don't carry cash with them, and many haven't carried cash in years. But buying your groceries with cash will help you save money. For example, if your grocery budget is $50 for the week, bringing only that much cash to the store will inhibit your compulsion to splurge. If you're held to the amount of cash you bring, then you can't overspend.
Shop at Different Stores to Save More
This particular money-saving strategy is easy but often overlooked. It can be advantageous to look at sales papers and get coupons from multiple stores to compare deals. If one store has the cheapest pasta, but another store has the cheapest laundry detergent, then take advantage of both sales by visiting each store.
Pack Your Lunch and Save a Bunch
You can save a tremendous amount of money by bringing your lunch with you each day. Maybe a PBJ or a turkey and swiss sandwich doesn't excite you. Luckily, there are alternatives like dinner leftovers, pasta, or salad. Even if you bring lunch three days per week, you could save some serious coin.
$10 per lunch X 3 days per week = $30 per week and $120 per month
The Future You Will Thank You
I hope this post has been a resourceful guide for you and your home. Energy Ogre is passionate about helping people, whether it's their electricity plan or any other important aspect of life.
These simple steps may seem insignificant, but they can and will save your family a ton of money. For just a moment, consider how much money you would have saved since January 1 had you incorporated just 5 of these tips into your grocery-shopping routine.
Now, consider how much you could save if you continued to practice those same 5 tips until December 31. Add those two amounts together, and I'm confident the number will be bigger than you would have expected.
So next time you head to the grocery store, bring your list, calculator, and remember these simple tips. If you do, then future you will thank you because, after all, every dollar counts!
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