Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Review and Reduce Your Monthly Bills

Last week I found an extra $37 in our budget by recalculating our Xcel budget billing.

About six months ago we went on budget billing with Xcel. That's where they look at your monthly bill and usage over the past 12 months and estimate your payments for the next 12 months. Then you have the option to schedule your monthly bill at a fixed rate. It will be renegotiated at the end of the 12 month period.

This is a great way to keep your utility bill budgeted and avoid surprises. But something went screwy with our December payment and we received a late fee. I called Xcel. The customer service person was unable to explain why the payment came out of my bill payment ontime, yet they noted it as paid late. Since she couldn't figure it out, she basically gave up and told me she would credit the account. Or, as I interpreted she just wanted to get me off the phone, because she never did credit the account.

After receiving another late fee for the past due I called again. This time I got a guy who knew what he was doing and explained the situation well. It turns out that we did make an error. Knowing that the payment wasn't due until the 12th my husband cancelled a payment that was due to come out of the account on the 5th, but he forgot to tell me. On top of that I missed it.

This action also voided our budget billing. But no worries really. I brought the bill up-to-date over the phone and got us back on budget billing. And that's how we reduced our bill by $37.

Moral of the story: Don't wait for a year to pass by before reviewing your scheduled bills, especially your utility bill.

Next on the list: The cell phone bill. Are we really using all those minutes? If not we might be eligible for a cheaper plan.


  1. Celeste, nice blog. Regarding the next task on your list (lowering your cell bill), I thought I'd get you started by pointing you in the direction of using the internet to save on wireless. There's one great new savings blog called that constantly tracks new ways to cut wireless costs and exposes shady billing practices utilized by the cell phone companies. Also, check out the consumer advocacy website where I (admittedly) work,, that slashes the average cell bill by 22 percent. Through the site, we have currently audited over 26,000 cell lines and have saved consumers nearly $5 million off their wireless bills. You can see in the national news media, most recently on Good Morning America at

    Good luck, and post back about how successful you were at trimming the fat off your cell bill.


  2. Thanks Dylan, I'll look into these sites.