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A home without water, electricity or heating is limited in function. Your utilities maximize the function of your home life, but also come with monthly bills. These utilities are easy to overlook when you’re budgeting, but you need to include their percentages in your upkeep. They are separate from your housing cost but are still directly connected. Larger living spaces often have higher utility expenses, but this also changes with your habits.

Budgeting Utilities

You should attempt to limit utilities to 10% of your monthly income. This means the total of the following bills: Water, Electricity, Natural Gas, Waste Management, Home Phone, Internet, Home Security, and Cable Television if desired. Keeping expenses under 10% may be difficult. Depending on your service selection you may have to extend this percentage up to 15%. If you keep your housing costs close to 20% of your income, your living expenses will total 30% to 35% of your annual earnings, excluding your homeowner or renter’s Insurance. Compare service providers to contrast both their prices and ratings of their services.

Falling Behind

If your bills are too high, you may fall behind. If you do, cut additional services you don’t need to make utilities fit. Open a payment plan with your utility provider. This will allow you to pay the debt back over time. Second, reduce discretionary or entertainment savings outside of the home, including restaurants or fast food. Forth, Eliminate the least essential services first, cable TV or internet. As a last resort only, temporarily direct money from your credit card payments to your utility payments. Interest hurts, but not hurt as much as no water, electricity, living space, or waste management. Use these funds to pay down your balance over time. Don’t cut savings or investment funds unless you have no other option.

Lowering Utility Costs

If you’re renting a condominium or apartment with a landlord, you may receive some utilities free. This typically only occurs with corporate landlords. Apartment complexes often have open wireless internet services in certain areas. In either case, you won’t need to purchase the utility offered.

There are other ways to lower utility cost. Bypass specific services, such as home phone, if you already have a cellular number. If you have internet services, you can get a voice to IP service or “internet telephone” number.

Service providers also often sell product bundles which lower cost. These can be useful for saving money since you’ll get all the services at the same time, and at a lower price per service. This is only useful if you’d purchase all of the services anyway. If you were going to buy only home internet at $40 a month, purchasing a bundle for home, internet, and cable television together at $100 a month does not help you financially.

Utility Fees

Any time you purchase new utilities you generally have to pay a set of fees. These are usually “Activation” and “Installation” fees. Your initial bill will often be higher than your normal billing rate as well. You may also be required to place a service deposit that costs a few months of bills. These deposits are occasionally returned after a period of time, or the bills for future months will be paid down. You might have to ask if the deposit can be returned. If the payment was in cash or from a checking account, it may be mailed directly to you. If it was a wire transfer or a digital transaction, it may be credited to the origin bank account. In the case of mailing or closed previously owned accounts, make sure your current mailing address is correct. They may send your deposit to the wrong place.

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