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Credit on my gas bill :)

December 5th, 2009 at 10:29 am

Wow, this is a busy time of year. From Nov 1st through the end of the year we have both kids' birthdays, anniversary, Thanksgiving, Christmas, our annual Christmas party, and other gatherings with friends. It's all good, but it makes for a pretty busy schedule.

I had one great financial thing happen over the past few days. We're on the balance budget plan with our gas company. We ended the year with a $108 credit, which will be applied toward our December bill (the timing couldn't be better!). We haven't gotten our new amount yet, but I'm hoping this means that our monthly bill will be $9-10 lower.

One inconvenient financial happening: I sent in the form to get our rebates back from one of our credit cards. The amount was about $450. I had to submit paperwork with the form, and it was dated 4 months ago. So they sent me a letter saying I had to resend the package with paperwork from within the last 30 days. Totally inconvenient, and now my $450 will be delayed. Bah Humbug.

I did find a penny on the street on Thursday, bringing my total up to $.55. And I got an email from Rite Aid that my $7 rebate check is on the way. Woohoo.

Going to dad's for a bit today and a quiet day home tomorrow. I'll probably get my Christmas cards done. Gearing up to make a big dent in my shopping this week...

Utility analysis

July 29th, 2008 at 08:42 am

I called up my electric company and asked for my average daily KWH usage (total kwh/# of days in billing cycle), from January 2007 through my last bill. Computers never cease to amaze me; the rep had them for me in about 30 seconds. Here's what I learned:

Electric
2008 vs. 2007
Avg. kwh/day
January 38.63 < 41.77
Feb 31.31 < 34.90
March 29.72 > 29.62
Aoril 26.55 > 26.14
May 28.18 < 29.31
June 56.76 < 57.03
July ???? 55.29
August ???? 55.59
Sept ???? 52.13
October ???? 32.13
Nov ???? 35.21
Dec ???? 44.80

eta: sorry this is hard to read. The first number is 2008 use, the second number is 2007. For months where I have both years data, I indicated if it was < or > from 2008 to 2007.

My usage was up slightly in March and April vs. last year, but down the other 4 months. Overall, through the first 6 months of the year, avg daily usage is down by about 1.7kwh/day. That's pretty good. My bill, however, has increased during that time from $186/month in July 07 to $250/month now! I'm on the budget billing plan, so they reset my rate once/year, based on the previous 12 months. I assume rates during this time have gone up (alot, apparently). I'm going to keep trying to lower my usage vs. last year, and I'll put a reminder in my calendar to see what happens when the rate resets, and raise heck if it doesn't go down at all.

Then, I did the same thing with my gas company, and found this:

Gas
2008 vs 2007
Total CCF
January 377.476 > 118.404
Feb 334.972 < 494.868
March 370.392 < 432.124
Aoril 279.312 > 276.276
May 79.948 < 163.944
June 74.888 < 107.272
July 33.396 < 92.092
August ???? 39.468
Sep ???? 68.816
Oct ???? 93.104
Nov ???? 46.552
Dec ???? 246.928

Here, I was also up 2 months, and down the rest. My bill from July 07 to now went from $252/month to $264/month, which includes $11/month for a maintenance contract on my air conditioner, which I think I have duplicate coverage for. (Yes, I pay $500+/month for gas and electric, which is ridiculous! That's why I'm so bent on getting these down!). The winter is tough, because it's so dependent on the weather. My summer usage has gone down a lot because we have a pool that we used to heat pretty regularly last summer, and I think we've only used the heater twice this year. The kids don't mind the cold water, and I mind it a lot less when I think about how much it costs me! So this one will be harder than the electric bill, but I'm going to think about what else I can do to get this down, especially as the fall/winter approaches. (We replaced our front door last year, and we use digital thermostat timers to turn down the heat when we're out of the house. I have to drill down to the next level of ideas).

Fortunately for us, water is cheap, and costs us only $27/month. (Not even, as that's also on budget billing, and we always come in under).

So that's my challenge for today, tomorrow, and the rest of the year: To continue thinking about ways to get this down. All thoughts are welcome!

Cruising along in 2007

January 15th, 2007 at 08:21 pm

Halfway through the month and things are going "pretty, pretty, pretty good" (any Curb Your Enthusiasm fans out there?).

I am on track for the whole "workout/eat better" resolution. I've been on the treadmill 5x/week both weeks, and have eaten 1600-1800 calories per day. My reward: I'm down 4 pounds. I'm trying to let Baselle's words of wisdom temper my excitement, but it's not working. (I'll have to save it for the week I don't lose anything (or worse, gain!!!)). A side benefit: I haven't spent a dime at the cafeteria at work. Last month I averaged $35/month. So far, nada. I am going to lunch with a colleague on Friday, but it shouldn't be more than $3 or $4.

Along the financial front, I got my gas bill and it was great. My actual use was about $60 less than my budget billing, which is amazing for December (though it was unusually warm). My only concern is that it says Estimate, but it should be actual because they put a thing on the meter to be able to read it from the street. If it is actual, that would be a really great start to the winter heating season.

I've also been taking advantage of the monthly rebates at Walgreens, RiteAid, and CVS, which is allowing me to stockpile some stuff, much of which is free or close to it.

The indoor Christmas stuff is coming down tomorrow. That'll help me along the whole organizational front, because I have decorations all over the place. I'm ready to move on to the rest of the year!

More plumbing problems

January 8th, 2007 at 02:20 pm

Well, one way to meet my goal of being more organized is to have a flood in the basement force you to clean everything out.

Our water softener overflowed, and we don't have a pipe to catch the overflow because we don't have a floor drain, so all the water spilled out onto the basement floor. It happened sometime between 4:30-6:30 Sunday, and by the time we got to it, there was about 3/4" of water on the floor.

Once again, we're thankful that we noticed it before severe damage was done. (Could you imagine if we were away on vacation?). Also, the water level did not reach the bottom of the appliances, so our washer, dryer, and extra refrigerator and freezer are safe.

However, it was more water than hubby could clean up on his own, so we called the company that cleaned up after the bathroom flood. $400, but they were done in an hour. So my goal over the next few days is to go through everything down there and see what boxes got wet, rebox stuff we want to keep and THROW OUT stuff that should have been gone years ago.

Other than the plumbing, all is well here. Took advantage of the beautiful weekend to get the Christmas lights down, haven't spent a dime eating at work (which was another one of my resolutions) and have been exercising and eating better. So far, so good in 2007.

Gas savings even better!

December 6th, 2006 at 01:10 pm

I must have misread my last bill. I got a letter today from the gas company saying that my monthly payment will drop from $319 to $241/month! Well that's more like it. They revisit it every 6 months, and of course with the winter here I'll need to be really diligent about trying to keep it down so it doesn't go right back up again...Yeehaw!

I also got the Bullet Train today, so I'm anxious to sit down with that and a glass of wine tonight Wink.

Direct TV Savings

December 5th, 2006 at 07:42 pm

I had a question about my Direct TV bill, so I called up a rep. Turns out I'm an "A-List Customer" (oh yeah!), so I'm entitled to $15/month off my bill for the next 6 months, as well as a new DVR receiver (read TIVO) to replace one of my existing receivers. The cost of the receiver and the installation is free with a 1-year commitment. Well that's a no-brainer...I just scored a $15 discount for 6 months, and hubby would NEVER give up Direct TV, if for the football package alone! So they're coming the day after Christmas to install my new receiver.

So that's 2 bills reduced (Direct TV and PSE&G gas), and 1 bill (electric) staying the same.

Finalized November numbers and got up-to-date on December, so I can start looking at how the year is shaking out and plan my goals for 2007. I'll have to go back and reread some of my entries from this past January to see how I've done.

Everything's coming up roses!

December 4th, 2006 at 03:07 pm

First of all, thanks StressLess and HouseHopeful for the Amazon tips. I was able to cancel just the video game. Everything else should be here next week, and my account has been credited. Painless. I like painless...

I'm having a great day! Already received my November RiteAid rebate ($36.94), and my $2 Drug Fair Nov. Rebate. I entered them Thanksgiving weekend and the check was in the mail today. Not too bad.

I also got my gas bill today. Unlike the struggles I had last week with the electric company, my gas bill for the next 6 months has been lowered by $11/month. I don't want to get too crazy here...they were billing me a whopping $319/month, every month, for my gas bill, now it's $308/month, which is still ridiculous. But I ended the year with a $377 credit, so I don't have to pay December's bill (awesome, what with the holidays and all), and I still have a $58 credit to apply toward my January bill.

I went to CVS today to pick up some of their promotional items, including a Gillette Fusion power razor, free after the Extra Care Bucks and a $4 coupon, and Sunsilk shampoo for $.50/bottle. $.50 Kraft MacNCheese also. Of course I had to pick up a small thing for each kid (I usually try to shop alone, but hubby's away). Fortunately, I had a $4/$20 coupon, so I applied the $4 toward that.

My goal tonight is to start writing out the Christmas cards and take care of a few Christmas packages. I need to make a trip to the post office tomorrow.

Electric Company Frustrations

November 30th, 2006 at 12:48 pm

UGH!

I received my electric bill, the last in my 6 month cycle (I'm on budget billing). I pay $147/month for electric. My actual usage before now was $6.07 over what I had been billed, and my current month actual usage was for $140.xx. So I'm right at $147/month.

Imagine my surprise when I saw that starting next month, my new monthly total would be raised to $158.xx! That's an extra $121/yr!

So I called customer service and got the most unhelpful, I-can-only-read-the-script-they-give-me rep!

Me: Hi. I just received my latest bill and noticed that my monthly amount was increasing from $147 to $158. I'm not really sure why, considering that my actual usage was right around $147.

Her: Well, usage isn't the only determining factor. Gas prices normally increase in the winter.

Me: I'm not talking about gas, I only get my electric from you.

Her: Oh, yeah, electric prices usually go down in the winter and up in the summer.

Me: Well, have you announced new rate increases yet? Because an increase of $121/year seems like a lot to me.

Her: It's not for a whole year. We reset budget billing every 6 months, so this new rate is only for the next 6 months.

Me: Well, if it's only for the next 6 months, then I'd definitely expect it to go down now, while electric rates are decreasing, then maybe go up in 6 months, right before summer, when you expect them to increase.

Her: The 3 factors that go into budget billing are usage, rate increases, and expected temperature.

Me: (Smoke coming out of my ears about now) Right. So if my usage is stable, and electric rates are expected to decrease, then the only thing causing this increase is a change in expected temperature? Again, I can see this affecting gas bills alot more than electric.

Maybe I can speak to a supervisor to find out exactly what's driving this change?

Her: I'll have somebody take a look at it.

Me: Great. Can I have her name?

Her: Well, it's not really a person. The rates are figured out automatically by the computer. Somebody will have to review the account and see if it can be reset back to the $147.

Me: So who can I expect to hear back from.

Her: Me. My name is Christy.

Me: Well thanks, Christy. Looking forward to hearing from you.

(Hang up the phone...curse to myself for about 5 minutes, then decide to vent my frustration on this blog)

ETA: The rep called me back to say that she spoke with someone in Accounting, and they're going to keep it at $147. Makes me wonder how many people don't call and complain...

Phone Cards

November 13th, 2006 at 06:55 pm

My goal through the end of the year is to use up various calling cards I've acquired. I just received $30 calling cards from IDT as a result of a class action settlement, and probably have another 30 minutes or so on other cards. My plan is to use them as needed during the day, so I don't eat up my cell phone minutes. There's definitely an opportunity for savings here...I never think when I call someone - I just pick up the phone.

I also received a letter in the mail about a class action suit against Verizon Wireles. I need to read the details, but at first glance it looks like a $15 credit on my cell phone bill when it settles. Every little bit helps.

I took a quick glance at the Leisure Plus program that StressLess mentioned. I agree with her that I'm not sure that it's worth it...You can save a max of $180 on gas cards, but there's a $90 yearly fee, so you really only save $90, and I don't think there are many other aspects of the program I'd take advantage of. Still...$90 is $90. I'll have to consider this further.

Not much further along on the Christmas front. I do need to order some discounted gift cards to use at Amazon and Circuit City, so I'll be doing that this week.

Send good karma my way...

October 31st, 2006 at 06:02 pm

I posted a few weeks back about the flood in my bathroom thanks to a broken pipe under the sink.

For the last week, the kitchen sink faucet has been acting up. We'd jiggle the handle and it would shut off, although there was usually an annoying drip. Well, tonight it didn't shut off. At all. Coming out full blast.

Hubby is away on a business trip through Tursday afternoon. I tried shutting off the knobs under the sink, but they are so old and stripped (?) they weren't budging. So I went downstairs and shut off water to the house.

After I settled down, I looked around the basement for a valve that would shut off only the kitchen water. Couldn't find one. I traced the pipes back to the main shut off valve. That's the only way to keep it off.

So then, I got a pair of pliers from hubby's toolbox, figuring the under-sink valves might budge. But that didn't work either.

Called dear sister, whose boyfriend has done some plumbing work and lives about 20 minutes away. He gave me the name of a plumber friend in my town. So I called him, but he "doesn't go out at night" and was booked tomorrow. So DS's boyfriend is going to take care of it sometime tomorrow.

In the meantime, the water to the house is shut off. Fortunately, the kids have already had their baths. I had them brush their teeth with bottled water. Later, I'll turn the water on and take a quick shower before turning it off again for the night. I'll catch what I can in the sink and water the plants.

Hopefully it'll be fixed by tomorrow afternoon, and all it will cost me is dinner for my sister and her boyfriend.

Thank goodness our water is so ridiculously cheap. Between the bathroom and the kitchen, we're going through water like it was, well, water!

Sorry for the long disjointed rant...

Catching Up

October 30th, 2006 at 11:20 am

I'm in a good place with October ending. I'm off today and tomorrow, so I'm able to get some things done. (Nothing great, just the typical stuff I normally have no time for).

I'm looking forward to Halloween tomorrow. The kids are so excited. They have a parade at school, followed by some trick-or-treating around the neighborhood.

I need to tally up all of my October spending and check the budget. I'm anxious to see how much my gas bill went down now that I'm taking the train to work. Also, the gas company is coming tomorrow morning to install a special meter that they can read from the street. That'll allow me to actually get an actual reading each month...hoping this will go down too.

It's going to be an expensive week coming up. Our anniversary is Saturday, and DS's birthday is next Monday. I also scheduled the kids' Christmas pictures for Thursday afternoon. It's getting to be that time of the year again...

I love Liberty Mutual

October 5th, 2006 at 05:00 pm

I should be a paid spokesperson for this company for all the times I talk about how great they are! I called the 1-800 number at 3:15 today to tell them about my water damage. They had an agent call me back within 15 minutes. He said he'd have a company they use to assess the water damage get in touch with me. They called within 1/2 hour, then the co-owners of the company were at my house at 5:00. They looked at the damage, and said they would have a crew at my house tomorrow morning at 9:30 to begin drying everything up and seeing if the rug can be saved. (I'm sure it can't - it's at least 15 years old and pretty ratty!).

Then our contractor called us back. We told him what happened, and that we're thinking about remodeling part of the bathroom (not a wholesale overhaul, but putting down tile instead of carpet, and a new shower). He said if the insurance company asks for an estimate, call him and he'll give us one, and once we get the check and are ready to remodel, he'll be happy to do it. Music to our ears...we thought this would be too small a job for him. I guess the fact that he's done work for us in the past helps.

So although my bathroom is out of commission for at least the next 5 days while they dry it out (thankfully we have others to use), and the carpet is still soaked, things are looking up a bit.

On to other news...Thank you Amy for $15 of free Shoprite coupons!!! ($5/$40 for the next three weeks) Those savings will be going right into my challenge account, thank you very much.

More great news...I think my gas bill will actually go DOWN when they review it. I'm on budget billing, and their last estimated reading was higher than my actual usage. I'm hoping the bill will drop $10-15 per month.

My other great savings opportunity is health insurance through open enrollment, but that's such a great story, it deserves a separate post!