Can I get near free electricity?

A colleague once told me her monthly electricity bill exceeded $1200 a month. I didn’t believe her, until she told me she had more than one fridge, a spa pool and underfloor heating. Underfloor heating? How about you go put on a jersey and save yourself hundreds?!

Now I’ve been in my new house for two full months, I’m starting to get an idea of my ongoing fixed costs, including my average monthly electricity bill.

For the past month, my bill has come to NZD$57, not bad I think. But it gets a whole lot better. Every year, the line company provides a dividend for bill payers to the tune of $280. As long as you’re paying a bill on August 5, you qualify. I moved in on August 1, so I’ll take that entire amount thank you very much :-). Over the course of the year, the dividend is $23.33/month, so my bill comes down to just $34/month.

But could I get my bill all the way down to $23 a month and therefore pay nothing at all?

Firstly, there is a fixed cost of $10/month for the lines charges. It doesn’t matter if you spend $34 or $1200 a month, you pay this regardless. So this leaves just $13/month for actual usage (down from $34). Not sure this is entirely feasible, but I’m going to give it a go.

Expense Tracking

I’ve been looking for an effective way to track my expenses. I used to use a simple spreadsheet, but found it was a bit cumbersome and generating useful insights was difficult. Some friends use an old fashion pen and paper, but I like keeping things digital.

I had a look at some of the big name tracking services and apps out there. Most offer the convenience to connect your bank account – not something I’m willing to do. Then there is the cost. Some wanted $10 or more a month. No thanks, I’ll pass.

Then I landed on Money Lover. It’s simple, has a great mobile and web interface, supports recurring payments and best of all is FREE! You can use it to track both income and expenses, but I prefer to just track my expenses only. It also provides really useful insights on where I’m spending my money.

After a full month of tracking (and a few big purchases moving into my new place), this is how I’ve spent my money (key below):

27% of Food & Beverages – that includes a bit of eating out etc. 18% on Fees & Charges – this is mostly Council Tax. 18% on Travel – this is from the few hiking trips I’ve been on (including accommodation etc), thinking it’s way too high. And lastly, 15% on Shopping which has been mostly one off purchases for my house.

It’s going to be super interesting to compare September with August – will keep you posted.