Do you read those articles that say “88 ways to save $5000”? You know the ones they promise great tips to help you save more. I read them, I’ve probably read them all. I like trying to come up with new and different ways we can save money. The more money we can save, the more money we have left to apply to our debt. Some of the Debt Gurus focus a lot on making more money and making more money is good but you’ll pay more taxes on it. Saved money isn’t income and it isn’t taxed.
I read every money-saving article I can find online & in magazines and I rarely learn anything new that helps us save money. I guess I’m just that good already! One of the tips that people always mention is “Budget Billing” or “Level Billing” with your utility company. I thought that one made sense because we’d be going along great and then we would have a ridiculously high power bill that would blow our budget out of the water for the month.
We made the switch to budget billing and started paying one amount for the whole year. We were able to budget and the bill was never a shock. They always showed how much the bill was vs. how much we paid. They listed our growing credit with them and then that growing credit really started to bug me. They were “holding” our money for us until the bill was high enough to use it and that was money that we could be applying to our debt every month while we wait for the high power bills to come in.
I sat down and studied a years worth of billing statements online with our power company and realized that our usage and costs were pretty consistent (within $15) a month for 9 months out of the year. We have 3 month a year with much higher cost than all the others ($75-$100 higher). The 3 higher months are January, February & August. I decided that we would cancel budget billing and plan for the higher bills of January, February & August.
At the same time I decided to make other changes that I hoped would lower the power bill even more. I started leaving lights and tvs off during the day, line drying clothes, turning the thermostat up a couple of degrees and running our ceiling fans more. At the end of our first month off budget billing they applied the credit from our account so that bill was a lot less than normal but I forgot to check for the difference in usage and cost from the previous year. This month our bill was less than last month (and we had no credits to apply). I checked the costs and usage for this month against the previous year and we had spent $35 less than we did last year (and there has been a rate increase in the last year). We had saved $78 off our Budget Billing amount. Our power bill was less than $90 and I can’t remember having a bill for less than $90 a month since we were newlyweds and we were both working full-time and out of the house for 10-11 hours a day.
We’ll have an additional $78 to send to a credit card company this month and coming up with a new way to find a little extra money is a victory here.