As a followup to my post on saving money for the holidays (over at WeLikeMoney.com) I’m going to talk about managing your utility bills, specifically your gas and electric bills.
Your electricity and natural gas bills fluctuate throughout the year: Air conditioning in the summer, heat in the winter, filters for the pool in the summer, more lights in the winter and many other factors. Many utility companies offer something some kind of balanced budgeting billing (my company calls it BudgetWise® Billing). What they do is figure out what your average bill is, guesstimate what it will be over the next 12 months and start charging you this amount. Every so often they re-evaluate they amount (6 months) and every 12 they credit or charge you the difference.
This is great for those months where you get some outrageous bills, especially if they haven’t done any meter reading in a while. Mine is usually pretty accurate and I’ve never owed at the end. This is a saving feature I’ve never used before a few years ago, I was helping a friend with some really tight budgeting and we wanted a specific amount to budget to; when we set up his, I added it to mine and I’ve enjoyed having it ever since.
Pros and cons:
- No shocking bills! They are all the same.
- You could get a big bill at the end (this hasn’t happened to me).
- If you can do this with gas but not electric (or vice-versa) and they sway differently it might not be as useful (my gas and electric are the same company).
- If you don’t pay enough attention to your bills you might not conserve enough. Not enough shock might not make you conserve enough, which costs you in the end.
From a budgeting standpoint this makes all my utilities the same every month: cable, cell phone, gas and electric. My water is part of my condo association fees so I’m not sure if anyone offers budgeting on water bills since I’ve always lived in some kind of multi-person dwelling.
Hopefully this works out for you as well as it has for me. If anyone has any experiences on this (good or bad) please leave a comment.