Tuesday, September 14

New Car, New Budget

Anyone who pays the bills knows how frustrating it can be to open an unexpectedly high bill. Plus the fluctuation throughout the year makes it difficult to plan your budget--something I've been trying to work out since I bought my new car a couple weeks ago.

Me and my newest purchase!
Since I now have another monthly payment I decided to start looking into regulating my utility bills. But first I wanted to make sure it really was the better deal. Knowing that my bill would be the same every month (instead of varying from $17 to $346) would be nice, but not if I really end up shelling out an extra $100 over the course of the year. So I've done a little research.

For my PSO bill I would pay $69/month if I joined the average payment program. When I calculated 12 monthly payments of $69 vs. monthly payments based off of my electric usage from the past 12 months, I found that the averaged payments would cost me $18.95 MORE a year. Not worth it for me.

Now ONG’s program is (of course) much more confusing. The averaged payment still changes from month to month and is based off your usage for the past 11 months. I was told my averaged monthly payment could be anywhere from $85 to $170. Obviously that makes it a little harder to calculate whether the program would save me money.

Right now those are the only bills I have that fluctuate throughout the year. I've decided not to average either of them at this time. Are any of you part of an averaged bill plan? Do you have the option with companies other than your electric or natural gas?


  1. We don't do the average bill-pay, and honestly haven't even looked into it, but probably should in case it would be a savings to us.

    The parts about budgeting that frustrates me the most is the fluctuation of bills, regular but non-monthly expenses (like car registration, insurance), and unexpected expenses.

    I use Google Docs to "budget", but it's mostly tracking our spending. I think I'm going to start keep tracking our expenses and budget for things like groceries, but focus on tracking our networth. I think that will encourage saving, which would obviously decrease spending.

  2. I've found that using online sites, like mint.com, have made a huge difference in managing my budget. I love that site because I can track my budget, automatically track my spending (and it will show me how I'm doing on my budget) AND it tracks my net worth.

    Caitlin, I would totally pay 1.58 more every month just for the emotional stability of knowing what it will be when I open it.

  3. Paul, I've been using mint.com for a few months now. I'm still undecided whether I like it, but the alerts when I go over budget do help me watch my spending. (Case in point: I had about $200 budgeted car payments so mint.com freaked out when the down payment for the new car went through.) ;)

    Maggie, you should check out mint.com. One of my favorite blogs did a post about it a while back. http://www.thegreenestdollar.com/2010/06/how-to-save-money-with-mint-com/

  4. We do the averaged payments for PSO and love it. Their system does result in bills that fluctuate a bit from month to month (like ONG's do), but about $50 more or less is about the most ours has ever fluctuated. And like Paul said above, the best part about the APP is knowing (approximately) what it will be every month, as opposed to being socked with a $400 bill every August! (True story.)

    It was nice to meet you at the Blogger Meetup last night. Enjoyed reading your stuff here!

  5. Jenny, I totally sympathize with the high bills! If you saw my post about ONG--"Amount Due: $0.00"--you know I ran into something similar. Of course, I'm more likely to get a high bill in the winter than the summer since I hate to be cold. :)

    Enjoyed meeting you too, glad you enjoyed reading!


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