Lurker-who finally made a budget(m)

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Lurker-who finally made a budget(m)
3
Thu, 10-16-2003 - 10:59am
My name is Elizabeth, I am 23, married with 2 boys(ages 2-1/2y & 1y). Last night I finally wrote down all of our monthy expenses and according to the budget we should have about $200.00 profit a month. But, we don't, we are living paycheck to paycheck. So, I sat down with my DH and we talked about where our money was going. We are really going to try and cut back on all of our spending. We may have an opportunity to buy a house in a nearby town for very cheap,(like $5000-6000). It is a fixer-upper, but my husband builds houses for a living, so that is not a problem for us. I am very excited at the possibility of getting our own house and getting rid of the $357. we spend in rent every month.

I do have one question, what r some good ideas to reduce and electric bill. We have not had our air on for over a month now, and our bill is still about $200.00. I try to make sure that lights r turned off when not in the room, it is getting colder out, and i don't have a clothes line, but in the winter i could not use it in this area anyway. I live in SE Nebraska. Any helpful hints.

We are really trying to get our finaces in order and get out of debt. This board is great, I've already learned alot. I hope to kind of use the board as my support group to keep us on the frugal track, before it's too late.

Thanks for all the advise.

Liz in NE

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-12-1998
Thu, 10-16-2003 - 12:30pm
Did I read that right? Even without the AC running, you are paying $200/month in electricity?

Are you sure part of that bill wasn't from when you were still running the AC?

Are you using the dryer a lot? Have any other pieces of equipment that are energy hogs?

Are you sure one of your neighbors isn't tapped into your electricity and you are paying their bill? Don't laugh, this happens. Growing up we had a neighbor who's job it was to track down and deal with energy stealing. He was almost shot twice by angry energy thiefs.

Maybe the electric company estimated your last meter reading instead of doing an actual read, and they may have overestimated your usage for the month, which means when they do an actual read, you would then likely have a credit on your account.

Another thing that could happen would be that they underestimated previous readings and then did an actual read this time and now you have to catch up, so this months reading seems high for what you have used this month.

If you get another high bill, or maybe even if you don't, call the electric company and see if they will do an audit for you. They should have someone who can help you figure out why you are using so much electricity.

You can do a self audit by looking around your house and seeing what all is plugged in and what is running. Something you can do that is very interesting is to keep a daily log for a while to see how much electricity you are using daily. Just read the meter and write down the meter at about the same time each day. I did this for a while when we were having some problems with the electric company doing a proper read on our meter. On days when we did very little, or were gone, the reading was very low; on days when we did laundry and the dryer was used, the reading was a bit higher- it's an easy way to get a better idea of what is eating up your electricity.

GL

~Vickie

Avatar for abigail_too
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 10-16-2003 - 1:07pm
Welcome Liz, it sounds like you are heading in the right direction.

I've got 2 bits of feedback, although maybe you are covering it already...

1) Is your budget based on tracking every penny that you spent over the last few months and averaging it out, or is it based on what you think you should be / are spending? Budgets are more realistic if you go through your bank statement / CC bill after the end of the month and assign every last item to a category. Include categories like 'Cash at ATM', 'gifts' and 'appliances'. You may think your washer will never break again, but the microwave might.. average it out over a year or as many months as you have tracked and you will see where that $200 is slinking off to.

2) Go for it if you can buy a house! It is rarely a bad move in the long term, but I can tell you from experience that having a fixing-upper DH is awesome for the home improvements, but expensive in all the bits and pieces they have to buy to do that work. My budget has a whole category call 'Home Improvemements'. My DH does not waste money on unfinished projects, but while every can of paint, nail and plank of wood is cheap on its own, it sure adds up over time. Just go in with your eyes open.

Abigail

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sat, 10-18-2003 - 12:06pm
Thank you for the relpies. I do use my dryer quite a bit, I do not have a clothes line here, but if we get the house we are going to look at this weekend, I will have DH put one up next spring, even if we don't I still want to put one up next spring. It is starting to cool of here, so I wouldn't be able to use it very much if I put it up now.

It may be that part of the bill was still from when the ac was on. I don't remeber exactly when I shut it off completely. I guess I will have to see what next months bill is like. I do know that our electric and gas prices are going up in this area. If we move we will be using propane instead of natrual gas. I'm not sure which is cheaper, I know in the winter our gas bill can be outrages though. This house has leeky windows.

And, from experience and from tales of others in my area, our electric company "does not make mistakes". Just have ask em once to find that out. :>

I have also started to shut my pc monitor off when I'm not using it. I hope that this helps some too, I've heard that the monitor is the part that sucks up the most energy.

Thank you againg for all the advice, and all the advice to come.

Liz in NE