Friday, September 1, 2017

Energy Rates on the Rise

I've found through listening to the news on the radio, and online here on Facebook and other news outlets that people are getting hit hard with their power bills. I saw a report on iSelect FB page about a young woman who couldn't save money for her bills; saying she was putting away around $80 per fortnight for the bills, but it just wasn't covering any of them. 

I've been living on my own for 15 years next week; and pay my bills on time every time. I did have a few teething problems when I started out; and it took some time for me to get used to paying bills on my own. However, there's been a good bit of planning included in it. Over this time, I've been looking at how I've used my appliances. 

Set Up A Bill-Paying Account so you can pay all your bills through one account - and one account only. This is a great idea if you have an account where you've got some $400 left there for a while. I had this when I finished work; and changed that account into a Bill-Paying Account with my bank. This helped me greatly when I started putting away money via direct debit (no, I'm not telling you how much is put away, but it's there all the time). You have to put away more than $100 into this account to make it worthwhile... otherwise you'll never be able to pay for your bills.  Also, this account isn't there for you to spend money from when you feel like it - this is to pay all your bills; only your bills.
Also, bundling your bills will help cut costs as well. For example: bundling your internet and landline phone with one company will be cheaper than having those separate. And have your smartphone prepaid, so you're not on your data all the time; and you get into the habit of budgeting what you can use and also turning off your data when you're not using it. 

Turn The Appliances Off At the Wall when you're not using them. I've been doing this for years. That little stand-by light sucks up a lot of juice over time. So, you don't need it on all the time. Making sure your television, dvd player, stereo system and computer monitor, speakers (on the computer), kettle, and washing machine are turned off all the time until you need them, is a good idea. Per quarter, I barely pay $100 on my power bill... and I live on my own on a pension. 

Turn Off Useless Lighting. This doesn't mean have just one light bulb and change it from room to room.. this means if you're not using that room, and the light is on, turn it off. If you're in the living room, and the hall light and kitchen light are on - but nobody is in them, go and turn off those other lights and just have the living room light on. Get into the habit of turning off lights as you leave the room, and you'll turn it into a good habit. Also, if you use beside lamps instead of the large overhead light, it also uses less energy. So, at night, use use your bedside lamp instead of your main bedroom light; and you'll be saving yourself getting out of bed to turn out the light, and energy in the long run too. 

Don't Eat Out Unless It's A Special Occasion. Learn to make your food from scratch. It takes more time, sure, but it'll save you a lot of money in the long run. I have learned to make pizza (pizza dough has 4 ingredients and isn't that hard to make - you just need 1 1/2 hours to yourself and a bit of patience, and you'll get it). Plus learning to cook for yourself means you'll always have food in your fridge. And this leads to my next item...

Learn To Make Your Own Fancy Coffee. I don't mean the packet ones, I mean learn to get the plunger coffee and make it at home instead of going out and buying coffee. When you think of going out and buying coffee at a whopping $4 - $5 a cup, you could be saving that by making it at home! I know that means you're not socialising, but really, what's better? Keeping money in your bank account or spending it on expensive coffee? And if you can't live without your coffee, make it a once a fortnight or once a month thing... at a great place you enjoy being at.

Op-Shop Everything In Your House. This sounds like I'm saying: spend your money. But really I'm not. In a good way, it's a wise way of spending. You go to a charity store thinking that it's going to smell like Grandma's old wardrobe. But no. Charity stores have had a huge change in the last few years. They look like and feel like proper retail stores. And if you're looking for something for your home, you'll most probably find it. If you want to get rid of something from your place, they are the places to send your unwanted things to. I use them, I swear by them, I love them... and I haven't bought anything brand new in ages. From clothes to vinyls to books to kitchenwares and wall-hangings, I've bought more and more from charity stores at a quarter of the cost of larger retail stores. This year, I kitted out my living room with two living room chairs and a side table and the costs didn't reach $100 over a few months. 

Live Frugally. I know that sounds like I'm talking about being a hobbit. But what I'm talking about is: 
Buy only what you'll need at the shop - not what you think you'll need. 
Make a shopping list and stick to it! Have a budget per fortnight - and only shop per fortnight. 
Have a few savings accounts where money gets put away through direct debit. This will mean you'll have to go without - no clubbing, no restaurants, no movies, no brand new clothes - but in the long run, you'll have an account or two where you'll have the money for things when you need it. 

Living Within A Budget - a strict one - will make your life a little harder, but also a little easier. It does mean that when you go out to those larger shopping centres, you can only window shop... but the charity stores are the places you'll end up cherishing because the same things will be there at a quarter of the cost you've seen them elsewhere. 

I'm not saying this will be easy... it's not. It's harder than you think. I live by a strict budget and I'm on a Disability Support Pension. I have to pay for my rent, all my bills, a PO Box (a must-have seeing my mail gets stolen by school kids in my area), my medication, food, petrol and anything to be done on my car, and any other incidentals (other crap that crops up in my life unexpectedly) and art school... all out of that pension - and that's not much. So, when the power and gas bills go up, I find that I kinda shrug and know I'm okay. I don't pay that much because I'm so strict on myself already.  

So, with a bit of planning and knowing how to spend your money - and when - paying those dreaded bills won't be so hard. It's just difficult in the beginning of being on your own that makes it so daunting. 

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