Tuesday, January 6, 2009

January Bills Come Rolling In

It looks like it was a good thing that I had a profitable December. Some of the bills are coming in and things are a little higher than expected.

My electricity bill went up a bit, which actually wasn't entirely unexpected. I chose to have Christmas lights up this year - not on the house, but I had two trees (one large, one small) that were on timers. They went on just before I got home each night and went off at midnight. The difference was only about $20 on my bill, but considering that I have gotten my electric bill as low as $25, that is quite a percentage jump. Still, it was worth it - I definitely got $20 of Christmas cheer out of it! I also suspect that I had the lights on more in general and I haven't been as vigilant lately in making sure that I am using predominately the fixtures with CFLs in them. Since using CFLs has been such a successful method for lowering my bills, I am going to make it a higher priority this month to get back in that habit.

I also have snowplowing done at my cabin. Even though I almost never get up there in December, I still like to have it plowed so it looks occupied. My neighbor keeps an eye on the place for me, but still, there is no use encouraging vandals! I do love to go there in the winter whenever I can though, just because it is so peaceful. I like to snuggle up by the wood stove under an afghan with a mug of hot chocolate and book, watching the snow blow across the lake. One year I took a winter vacation there and spent a whole week in January just relaxing. I'd be tempted to do that again if it weren't for the recent layoffs at my job. Although I don't think my job is in jeopardy, I do think it is a good idea to be seen around the office as much as possible for awhile. I am hoping I might be able to get up to the cabin for a weekend or two this month, anyway. The snowplow service is flexible. He does it only on the weekends and only as needed. I can always call him if I were planning on going up the middle of the week, but for the most part, this system works out well. I pay on a "as needed" basis and last month it was needed every weekend. So, that is an unplanned expense that I will have to budget for next year.

My other unplanned expense was my cell phone bill. It was up quite a bit from my normal rate. That was due to holiday calling and a lot of extra text messaging. I have a text plan that normally works out great, but I went over last month. I hate doing that, so I am going be a lot better at keeping an eye on my usage. I don't expect it will be a regular problem though, again I think it was mostly due to the holidays.

The good news is that once again I got my bill for auto fuel and it was incredibly low. Though I budget $150 monthly for gas, that was in the $4.00 per gallon heyday of summer when I was driving a lot more. Last month I spent only $33.92 on gas! I am tempted to adjust my budget, but I think I will just let that line item ride for awhile. I suspect that gas will go up and spring is not that far away - both will mean more money spent on gas. I started my budget in June, so perhaps I will leave it where it is at for a full year, then do an average.

Another boon for this month is that I am well stocked on groceries. Hopefully I can get by with fewer stops to the grocery store this month. Last month was expensive with bringing dishes to parties and so on. I don't see that being much of a problem this month. Perhaps the big bills and small will all even out in the end.

Photo by: Dolinski

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