Wednesday, June 27, 2007

WFMW: Squeezing Out Some Extra Cash

Do you have your utilities payments on a "budget plan" - where they estimate what they think your average monthly bill would be and you pay the same amount all year round? For, example, instead of paying a $200 gas bill in the winter and a $30 one in the summer, you get a nice round amount of $90 a month every month?

If so, here's a way you might be able to squeeze a little unexpected cash out of it.

Last fall, due to an anticipated harsh winter, our natural gas company warned us of a gas cost increase. As a result, our budget amount went up about $10-20 a month. However, the winter (in typical Michigan fashion) didn't cooperate with the meteorologists' predictions and it was much milder than expected.

In addition, we have made several improvements to our home's energy efficiency in the last 2 years since we've purchased it. We have been using less gas than the previous owners whose usage is considered when set our budget amount.

Result? A significant surplus of funds being sent to our gas company! In the area of $500+! When I finally noticed how high it was getting, I thought "I need to call those folks! That money is just sitting there and it's MINE! (LOL) What's the worse that could happen? They say no?!"

Our gas company was perfectly agreeable to sending us a refund check (minus our current gas usage costs) with only one condition: we had to go off the budget plan! *sigh* But, the up side? The nice lady said "once you receive the refund check, just call back before fall (when our usage will begin to rise again) and ask to be put back on!"

So, for a 15 minute phone call and a note written on the calendar for September to "get back on budget plan," I received a $500+ check in the mail within 4 weeks! Wa-hoo!

"Free" money - that works for me! *wink* Go to Shannon's site to see what other "mommy ideas" folks are sharing this week!


Anonymous said...

This happened to us last year too. Our provider, reduced the payments so they wouldn't have to issue a credit. We ended the year with a "free" month. Payment plans are great for your budget. Thanks for the reminder to check the status of the payment plan in order to save money.

Anonymous said...

Mine went up last year, bummer. Good advice for the future though. We have done that with our mortgage escrot (not sure how that is spelled) and gotten a huge check so I think there are probably a lot of companies you can do this with.

Cara said...

Great post! I'm not on a budget program with the electric company (no gas- we heat with wood) but there is a variable depending on summer and winter, so I'm going to see about doing that. I'm always looking to squeeze a little bit more out of the budget :)

Lisa said...

woohoo! Love that!!

Beth/Mom2TwoVikings said...

Hey, Lisa- this idea probably doesn't work in your part of the country, huh? LOL

Pam said...

So cool and so smart on your part, creative lady that you are!

BTW, how did the flip flops do at the fundraiser?

Debbie said...

Wow! That is great!! $500!! That's always a nice bonus.

Anonymous said...

This is a great idea! We're on the budget plan too & I need be sure to watch our account! Thanks for the tip!