Savings That Will Give Your Budget A Quick Jolt

Want to increase your spendable income while working the same number of hours? Sounds like an oxymoron, right? Well it's not, and actually pretty easy to do. It will take a little work and time on your part, but not near as much as you may think. 

When my late husband was ill, he lost his job. This came as a hard blow, not just with his illness and all, but seeing as the same bills were coming in, along with many, many additional hospital and doctor bills. It was becoming increasingly difficult to stretch the income that we did have even farther, and I knew I needed to come up with a plan to ease the pain. 

I did what anyone else would (or should), and sat down at the computer and began revamping our budget. I began with the money coming in, then listed all of the expenses we had that typically do not vary much: mortgage, car payment, insurance premiums, cable, Internet, cell phones, etc. Then I listed those things that do change: food, cleaning supplies, toiletries, gas for vehicle, etc... The bottom line wasn't what I had hoped for, to say the least. While I knew we could cut back on some items, the sacrifices we could easily, and quickly, make were not going to be enough. So I thought...

What I discovered next was nothing short of a blessing. Some of the things I didn't think could be discounted actually could. For instance, my electricity.

Let's face it, this wasn't something I was really willing to give up. While I was being fairly diligent about turning lights off when not in use, doing only full loads of laundry, and setting my thermostat at temperatures much higher or lower than I really would have liked, it still accounted for a large monthly expense. While I knew what our average monthly bill ran, one thing I didn't know was how much per kWh we were paying. The reason? I just never really paid attention to it. My needs were being served at what I thought was a fair price. 

Turns out I was paying a whopping $0.149! I use the word "whopping" loosely, seeing as it didn't seem too "whopping" until I shopped around and found a much cheaper provider. They were only charging $0.09, saving almost $0.05 per kWh. Doesn't sound like much of a savings, right? I mean, come on, how much could that $0.05 difference really make?  I didn't think much either, until I pulled up my previous year's worth of usage, recalculated the price difference, and discovered the savings was roughly $867.00. Shut..the..front..door! I think everyone can agree that is a pretty good chunk of change.  

Once I decided to make the switch, I did have a few concerns.

  • Would there be any fees associated with changing providers?
  • Would I be without electricity for ANY period of time?
  • Who do I call if there is a power outage?
  • How easy is the customer service department to reach in case of billing errors?
Now I can't speak for all electric providers, but the company I chose to make the move to made it pretty streamlined. No fees or deposits since I was a "transfer" customer instead of a new customer (new customers may have a deposit), and I would not be without power for any period of time, seeing as they were just flipping the account. In addition, since Oncor services all areas around here (Wichita Falls and surrounding areas), they still would. The only real difference was the company I would be using as the provider, and I could call them directly for any billing questions or errors. 

While it sounded a bit too good to be true, I decided to give it a try. I was given a 30-day change-back guarantee, so what did I have to lose? I had come to the realization that even if I had a slight inconvenience, I'd still be ahead with my $867 annual savings. The day of the switch arrived, and I never even noticed it happened. What I did notice was the savings on my bill the following month.

Depending on your average usage and what you're paying now, your savings may be higher or lower, but it's definitely worth a second look. Check out the Power to Choose website to see what's out there. I use Ambit, and have been very happy with them. There are now some companies (although I haven't heard of many of them) showing some really low prices. When I pulled up the plans available in the 76308 area code, there were 252 listed plans. Narrow your search by selecting that option, entering your usage range, and select "fixed" (this locks in your rate). Want to use the company I have? Click here.

Before making a choice, check the fact sheets, then review the cancellation fees, customer complaint scorecard, and the Better Business Bureau records.

So, at the beginning of this post I mentioned you could increase your spendable income and save on taxes at the same time, right?

Have questions? Post them in the comment section below. You never know, your questions may help out others as well!

Want to see more ideas about saving money? Check out my other posts on The Money Diet, Money Saving Tips, and follow me on Facebook

"Image courtesy of Keerati, published on 08 August 2013 Stock Photo - image ID: 100191224".

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