Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Sore Throat on Tuesday

I  woke up with a scratchy, sore throat, today.  Wah!  I am hoping I'll be able to avoid a full blown cold and cough.    

Since I didn't feel 100%, I took it easy and relaxed, today.  I didn't call the insurance about the billing, but I registered for Jury Duty (reporting date is April 15).  I didn't request to postpone it, because I'd rather get it over and done with.  At least the courthouse I'm assigned to is in the adjoining city, not all the way downtown.  A much shorter distance to drive to.  And, apparently, if I take the online orientation course, I can show up two hours later than the start time, on the first day!  Since they usually tell you to arrive around 7:00 or 7:30 a.m. on that first day (and then, sit through the orientation), I shall take the online orientation and sleep in  a bit!

I brought in the trash cans, went through this week's grocery ads (, and cleared out one file folder...all the natural gas bills from last year.  The monthly payments varied from $17.12 in August to $205.85 in February.  Each month's bill covers a period of approximately 30 days, and includes about 3 weeks of the prior month and one week of the current month.  So, the January bill included the gas used during most of December and the first week in January.  I consider it as the January bill because I pay it in January, which is when it is due.  
20162017/Therms Used2018Therms Used

106 therms
157 therms

$ 153.11
97 therms
163 therms
63 therms
36 therms 
29 therms
11 therms
11 therms
12 therms

$ 26.14


12 therms

34 therms

I paid a total of $951.04 on natural gas, in 2018, for heating, cooking, water heater, and clothes dryer (although I didn't have the use of the dryer all last year).  The monthly average came to $79.25, which presents me with a bit of budgeting difficulties.  I budget $100 per month for natural gas, because that amount is more than enough for the monthly average; except for the fact that my actual monthly bills are higher than what I budget for the first four months of the year!  I take from savings to pay those higher bills.  I am then "in the red" until later in the summer, when, eventually, the lower monthly bills allow me to get back "in the black".    I am wondering if it makes more sense to increase my budget during the first four months of the year to reflect the actual spending during those months, and decrease it for the rest of the year.  

So far, this year, all my gas bills have been higher than last year's for the same period!  $159.29 in January; $262.30 in February; $240.21 in March.  One of the consequences of being retired and being home, as I have the heater going on during the mornings as well as in the evenings, when I am home!  I am fine with that, though, since a warm house is one of my luxuries.  I manage with just a window air conditioner in my bedroom, during the hottest days of summer, but I want a warm house in the winter!  

I didn't do another load of laundry, today, because I didn't need to (not enough lights for a full load); I also didn't dust or vacuum because I didn't feel quite up to it.  Instead, I rested, knitted, and watched some TV.  Later, in the evening, I made another batch of tomato soup for dinner and video chatted with my daughter.

Lunch was a salad with canned tuna added to it.  Later, I ate two small oranges that had fallen from the tree after yesterday's wind, and had tomato soup for dinner.  I also snacked on some almonds, in the evening.

I took two Tylenol tablets because I felt achy and drank some coriander tea.  I will gargle with warm salt water before I go to sleep, tonight.  

Today, I am grateful for:
- Being able to take it easy when needed
- Fresh oranges from the tree
- Tomato soup 
- Emails from a good friend
- Being able to video chat with my daughter

Tuesday's To Do List:
- Call insurance re. billing
- Pay bill
- Fill out jury duty questionnaire - DONE
- Bring the trash cans in - DONE
- Put away the laundry from Monday - DONE
- Do another load of laundry
- Empty the dishwasher/put away dishes - DONE
- Dust and vacuum

Wednesday's To Do List:
- Call insurance re. billing/pay bill as needed
- Attend appointment with tax accountant, depending on how I feel
- Sort through more files.

Everything else (laundry, dusting, vacuuming, etc.) can wait a couple of days until I feel better.

How was your Tuesday?  How do you budget for those bills that fluctuate from month to month or during certain months of the year?


  1. I take all bills like your gas one and go off of the prior year, divide by 12 and add $25 padding to come up with a monthly "cost." I then pay the bill and transfer the difference to savings each month. For the months you need money to cover it, transfer what is needed from savings to cover it. I do this with electric, water, etc. I have an excel sheet for savings which divides the savings categories to keep track of what I've saved for each! It is very basic, just a balance column and then the breakdown of categories.

    I also use this to save monthly for car ins, home owners, vacation, car repair and so on. I have a budgeted amount for each category that we save and this keeps it divided up. I save a lot by doing this and paying insurances and taxes once a year and not needing to use the installment plans which have fees. Another bonus is never needing to worry about as many due dates!

    1. Hi, that's basically what I do, too, with the majority my expenses - I take the previous year's amount, divide by 12 to get a monthly amount, pad it a bit to account for increases in rates, and put that amount towards that bill, each month. What doesn't get spent is saved until needed. It's just that, my gas bills are higher than the budgeted amount in the early part of the year. I make it up by the end of summer and then, have something to carry over to the next year, but I am back in the hole after I pay February's bill!

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

  2. Hi! Where I live (CT), our gas company offers a budget plan. They take an average of your bills and you pay the same amount every month. At the end of the year, they readjust - your next year's bill then becomes either higher or lower, based on the previous year.

    Maybe you can call and ask if your company offers a similar plan? It makes it much easier to budget.

    1. Hi Bobbie, that's a good idea. I could check with our gas company. They have two rates, based on the amount of therms you use. They allocate a certain number of therms each month at a baseline rate (number of therms differ according to the month, more in the colder months) and anything used above that is charged at a higher rate.

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

  3. Scratchy, sore throats must be going around since I have one, too. Here's hoping that both us will be better soon.

    Will they let you average your gas bill, so you have a more regular payment? If not, I would build up an escrow account (real or imagined) for your gas bill, so you would have the amount you need during all of the months.

    1. Live and Learn, I hope you, too, feel better, soon. Well, I do have an escrow, in theory, at least! By allocating $100 a month, I have a $1,200 annual budget for the gas bill, which came to $951, last year, which leaves almost $250 remaining in the account. Since I usually carry over the balance from year to year, there is usually enough in the account to cover the next year's higher winter/spring bills until about April, and then, I go in the red until the lower summer bills build up the account. I'm just not sure if this is the best way to budget for this particular bill, but, since I live below my means, there is enough to pay a higher bill, as needed. :)

  4. Oh I hope it doesn’t develop into a cold and that you’re back to normal as soon as possible.

    I pay for the utilities on a monthly direct debit; I pay the same amount every month which means that I overpay during the warmer months and that overpayment is used to cover the colder months. I never have a bill that I have to pay. If at the end of the year my account is in credit I can ask for a refund but if it is in debit, then the monthly payment is amended to clear the debit. I too found that my usage increased now I’m retired as I’m heating the house for the entire day.

    1. Thank you, Eileen; I am hoping I can "nip it in the bud", as the saying goes. :)

      I am in a similar "payment plan", except I pay the same amount each month into my household budget! It works out well on paper, especially for those bills where the payments are lower during the first part of the year, allowing a budget surplus to build up. But, not so well when the higher payments occur at the beginning of the year.

  5. I hope you feel better! Get your rest, for sure! I should look at my bills as you do! Andrea

    1. Thank you, Andrea. Yes, I'm taking it easy! I like averaging out my bills over the course of the year and coming up with a monthly amount. But, there is, always, a bit extra in the account to pay the higher bills during certain months. :)

  6. I am on the equal billing plan with my natural gas provider. I only have the furnace and hot water heater on gas. The company figures out a guesstimate for the average monthly usage and predetermines an amount that I have to pay every month. This year it is $176 a month. Going into the autumn months the Gas company usually has several hundreds of my dollars, but sometimes I will owe them money coming into summer. There is a point in the year when they may have to adjust my monthly payment up or down for the next 12 month period, but it generally works out. Some people resent having the gas company holding money of theirs that could be earning interest, so they use the estimated average to put aside the money into their own accounts and pay each bill from that account. If you are very good about putting that money aside and not touching it, it works. Personally, I would rather pay it to the company.

    I hope you were able to stall the progression of a cold and that you are feeling much better today.

    1. I am one of the people who'd rather pay the estimated monthly average into my own account, because that is what I do, currently! But, it only works if I take into account what I carry over from year to year, because the gas bills are higher than my average monthly amount at the beginning of the year. My water bill, however, increases during the summer, when I have a bit of a surplus accumulated in the account.

      I am feeling a bit better, today, but the throat is still scratchy!

  7. I hope you're feeling better, Bless. I always like tomato soup if I'm feeling under the weather. X

    1. Thank you, Jules. It's funny how I craved the tomato soup, yesterday! In fact, I drank the entire batch, having the last bowl before I went to sleep!

  8. Hi Bless, It was MUCH colder in California this year. It helps me to dry my clothes on the clothesline and to close the bedroom door when I use the heater. That way, I only have to heat a small portion of the house, and can shut it off after about a half hour.

    I hope you are feeling better today. You sound like a very light eater. Aren't you glad that you had plenty of groceries on hand?

    I think it's worth it to feel warm and cozy in the winter. Those days are behind us now!

    1. I keep the doors to the spare bedroom and my daughter's bedroom (when she's not here), closed when I have the heater on, but, I keep my bedroom door open and I keep the heater on all night!

      I am not a light eater, at all, but I need to lose some weight! I am borderline between being overweight and obese, going by weight to height, and really need to get my weight under control because there is a connection between being overweight and the type of hormone responsive cancer I've had. I lost a lot of weight during my treatment and I am still a good 20 lbs. under what I was before my diagnosis, but, I've gained some weight after treatment stopped and my oncologist cautioned me during my last visit!

  9. I hope you get over the scratchy throat before it has a chance to blossom into anything!
    DH is planning to start tapping maple trees tomorrow, so it will be busy around here soon. I got caught up with some cleaning this afternoon but have more to do tomorrow.

    1. Thank you, Bushlady. I've been eating lots of oranges, drinking hot soup, and gargling with warm salt water! I hope I can get rid of it by the end of the week!

      It must be spring if your DH is planning to tap the trees! :)

      Hope you have a good day, tomorrow.

  10. I hope you are feeling better now, Bless.

    I too have a scratchy throat now. I just can't figure out if it's allergies or a cold. I need to drink more coriander tea.

    Unless I have company, I don't use central heating a lot. I have a small space heater and use it when I sleep. When it's hot I prefer to use a fan because I feel too cold with AC. :)

    1. Thank you, Nil; I'm feeling a little better, today. I hope you feel better, soon, yourself. Gargle with warm salt water; that helps with sore throats.

  11. I don’t really have any bills that fluctuate. My health insurance premium changes every year based on my income, and my car insurance premium went up when I bought a better car back in July.
    I also have a sore throat and wheezing. I don’t know if you heard on the news about a fire at a chemical facility that’s been burning several days, but we live near there. I can see it clear as day from my house. I also didn’t heed the warnings to shelter in place.

    1. It's good you don't have any bills that fluctuate; it's easier to budget, then, I think.

      Yes, I heard on the news about the chemical plant fire! I'm sorry you are having a sore throat and wheezing; do you suppose it is due to the smoke and fumes from the fire? I am sure the air quality isn't the best. I suppose it is not possible to shelter in place when you have to go to work. I hope you feel better, soon. Maybe wear one of those dust masks when you are out and about?


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