At Energy Ogre, our mission is to help save you time and money. Sure, that begins with cutting your electricity costs, but it doesn’t end there. We’ve blogged about different money-saving techniques before, like grocery shopping tips and using certain apps (links are listed below).

In today’s post, we’re sharing three of our favorite ways to save money in 2021.

Here are some shortcuts to each technique:

1. Bring your lunch to work (even if you work from home) can save you between $1,100-$2,200 of savings each year!

2. Budgeting your monthly expenses can help you prioritize where and how your money is spent!

3. Automate a deposit from your checking account to a savings account to save $1,000 or more in the establishment of your emergency fund!

Honorable Mention: Go with the Ogre and save up to 40% on your electricity bill!

#1: Bring Your Lunch to Work (Even if You Work from Home)

I once heard, “Growing up is telling yourself there’s food at home.” Or, in this case, “…there’s food at the office.”

It took me nearly 25 years to learn this lesson, but eventually, I did—better late than never, I guess. As a typical millennial, I spent the beginning of my professional career leaving work every day in a quest for lunch.

Each day I would fight traffic and indecision to satisfy my hunger. My weekly rotation consisted of burritos, Chinese take-out, and overpriced sandwiches. Not only were these daily adventures inefficient, but they were also stressful and expensive.

Eventually, I grew up and grew tired of this daily ritual and begun bringing my lunch to work. Still to this day, I make my lunch at work every day. The menu consists of turkey and Swiss paninis (yes, paninis—I even brought the press to my office kitchen) and veggie chips. Sometimes, to break up the routine, I indulge in some chicken noodle soup splattered with an absurd amount of hot sauce.

Does this ever get monotonous? Maybe a little. But the savings are well worth it. Here are the numbers… you’ll see why I continue this tradition.

How Much Can You Save By Bringing Your Lunch to Work?

I’m not proud to admit, but I used to average $11 per day for lunch five times per week. After subtracting two weeks of vacation time, I’d work 50 weeks per year.

Put those numbers together, and I was spending nearly $2,750 per year on lunch. If you eat out just three times per week at that same average total of $11 per day, you’re still spending $1,650 per year on lunch. That’s crazy to think about, considering that’s only ONE of your three (two for some people) meals a day.

Nowadays, I can stretch $10 worth of sandwich supplies or cans of soup all week. This allows me to spend less than $40 per month, bringing my annual total to $500 per year.

Imagine what you could do with that extra $1,100-$2,200 of savings each year! I’m guessing either a nice trip, an upgrade to your home, or maybe something for your children or significant other.

#2: Budget, Budget, and Budget

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The word “budget” gets thrown around like a frisbee. Let’s be honest for a second though… How many of us actually record how much money we spend on food, gas, clothes, entertainment, and bills?

Hopefully, everyone reading this has their monthly budget in place. If you don’t, now is the time to create it, my friend. There are a million ways you can do it, and there are a ton of apps that you can use—my personal favorite is TrueBill.

Dave Ramsey, a nationally-known finance expert, has long advocated for the envelope system. This may work for you, or maybe you prefer to upload each expense into some computer program. Either way, you need to devise a method to track your spending.

Why is Budgeting Important?

Budgeting is essential for many reasons. Investopedia lists 6 specific reasons why budgeting will bring you closer to financial peace.

  1. Keeps your eye on the prize: with most things in life, simply tracking or measuring something gives you an opportunity to improve
  2. Ensures you don’t overspend: if you become a disciplined spender, then you won’t spend too much money in different areas of life
  3. Leads to a happier retirement: by allocating some money for your retirement, you should be on a good path to a comfortable retirement
  4. Prepares you for emergencies: rainy day funds are necessary, and budgeting allows you to put some money aside to be ready when emergencies pop up
  5. Identifies bad habits: a budget allows you to better understand how you’re spending your money, which can reduce impulsive and irresponsible purchases
  6. Better than counting sheep: when you budget your money wisely, you’ll never lose sleep over financial issues again

#3: Deposit $39 From Each Paycheck to Save $1K

Does this technique seem too obvious? “So you’re telling me to save money by saving money?” you may be thinking. BINGO! That’s exactly what I’m suggesting.

After all, you can’t swim without getting into the water.

This is truly such a simple way to put money aside. $39 may be a lot of money for some. In fact, nearly 33% of Americans in 2018 had less than $1,000 saved up, according to a Federal Reserve study. Of that 33%, more than 20% could not write a check or pay $400 cash in an emergency.

The chart below was put together by The Ascent, and it illustrates how much money Americans had in their savings accounts as of 2020. Undoubtedly, millions of Americans are still reeling from the economic hardships imposed by COVID-19.

Clearly, many Americans are not saving enough money. If you are in that same boat, then hopefully, these simple monthly deposits can help get you back on track.

If you can do without that money, then deposit $39 every time you get paid into a savings account. If it’s easier to deposit $78 once per month instead of $39 twice, then go right ahead!

I’d be willing to bet your bank allows you to set up automatic transfers from your checking account whenever you would like. Setting up an automatic transfer like this one can probably be done from your smartphone.

Are you the frugal friend in your group—an avid saver who peruses the clearance section and still uses coupons—and you’ve already saved up $1,000 or more? Then I’d like to ask you, “How much do you have saved in your emergency fund?”

I Have More Than $1K Saved, Do I Need More?

Most financial advisors will suggest your emergency (rainy day) fund should contain between three and six months worth of fixed, monthly expenses. Expenses such as rent or mortgage payments, car notes, health insurance costs, childcare costs, food, gas, etc.

However, we know countless Americans were hurting financially in 2020, many of whom are still struggling to make ends meet. Regardless of how much you make, most of us can save a little bit more.

So I’d recommend trying to amass eight to 12 months worth of expenses into your emergency fund. You don’t have to save that much overnight, but it should be a goal nonetheless to work toward.

It may be advantageous to set up your emergency fund into a new account at a new bank. That way, the money can continue to build while remaining relatively out of sight and out of mind. Be sure the account is easily accessible.

A simple checking account or money market account will work perfectly for you. But be sure the account comes with a debit card or check-writing privileges. This will allow you to easily pay for that unforeseen medical bill or mechanic’s invoice.

There’s One More Way to Save Money Easily

Calling all savvy shoppers in the Lone Star State! If you haven’t signed up with Energy Ogre yet, then you may be substantially overpaying for electricity. In fact, 90% of Texans overpay to power their homes each month—that means 9 in every 10 readers who are not members.

There are more than 120 providers to choose from, and collectively, they offer more than 2,000 electricity plans. Many of those plans offer “free electricity,” “free nights and weekends,” and “free bill credits and gift cards.”

As we always say, it’s not free if you’re paying for it!

Aside from the many gimmicky plans that flood television, radio, and billboards, a lot of Texans don’t know where to go or how to shop for cheap electricity plans.

That’s where we come in! Energy Ogre is your one-stop-shop for all things electricity. We consider a variety of factors like how much electricity you typically use, home size, how many people live in your home, predictive weather forecasts, and many others to find you a personalized plan that is certain to maximize your savings.

No more shopping for electricity, no more confusion when trying to compare plans. It’s electricity made simple. Think about it this way—you already pay a professional to cut your hair and change your oil. Now it’s time to allow our team of experts to manage your electricity!

If you’d like to determine how much money we can save you, please visit our free Savings Calculator. It’ll show you a variety of plan options, ultimately picking the one that will save you the most money!

Other articles you may enjoy:

17 Easy and Proven Tips to Save Money at the Grocery Store

Energy Ogre’s Free Savings Calculator Ensures Texans Never Overpay

Put Your Home’s Electricity on Ogre-Pilot

Best Apps for Homeowners – Save Time & Money!