Sunday, February 26, 2023

Rainy Saturday

More rain on Saturday, too!  We received 4.57 inches of rain on Friday and another 2+ inches on Saturday!  With January rainfall totaling over 8 inches and more rain expected next week, too, it looks like we will exceed our normal rainfall of just under 15 inches, this season.  With any luck, this year won't be considered a drought year!

Our day time temperature was 45F around noon, but, in the afternoon, it went down to 40F.  Some parts of Los Angeles received snow, especially in the mountains, but, we just had rain in my area.  

Neighbor T's daughter K called me in the morning, to check on me.  She said she had stopped by T's house to check on things; she had been concerned about the bottle brush tree in T's front garden, but, it is fine.  She said that there were several downed trees in her neighborhood.  Gardener M texted, too, to see if I was OK and I assured him that all was well and the eucalyptus tree was still standing.  According to the news, we had 50-70 miles per hour wind gusts, Friday night!

I spent a fairly relaxed day, today, watching online videos, reading blogs, trying to figure out a new budget, etc.  I know I seem to be obsessing over the gas bill, but, just the first two bills for this year have amounted to 63% of what I paid for natural gas in all of 2022 and 57% of what what I had budgeted for this entire year's gas bills!

The way I budget for most of my expenses, especially utilities, is I add up the previous year's bills, divide by 12 to get a monthly average, and then, add 10% for inflation.  I am not on the gas company's monthly payment plan, but, the way I budget for it is similar to how they calculate their monthly payment rates (and then, they bill you for any difference between what you've paid and your charges).  Then, I set aside that amount in my monthly budget towards that spending category.  Last year's gas bills varied from a high of $351 for January to a low of $30 in July, with an average bill of $135 per month.  With 10% for inflation, that comes out to $148.50 per month and I rounded it up to $150 for natural gas in my monthly budget for 2023.

Billing Period/
# Days
 Therms  Used
Bill Amount
 Billing Period/
# Days
 Therms Used
 Bill Amount
12/21/21-1/21/22=31 days
 12/19/22-1/20/23 = 32
= 32 
 1/20-2/17 = 28 
= 29
= 31 
1,621.16 =$135.09/mo.
 $1,031.08 = 63% of 2022 total payment

I used 164 therms during the first billing period in 2022 and my bill was $351.62.  I used 160 therms during the first billing period in 2023 and my bill was almost double at $693.34!  Even with their weekly bill notifications, it was still a shock!  This month's bill is not quite as bad, but, these two bills have thrown my 2023 monthly budget into complete disarray!  Obviously, I'll need to budget more than $150 a month for the gas bill!  But, how much more?  As a retired person living on a fixed income, there is only so much I can expand the budget to accommodate higher expenses.  Which means I need to cut other expenses, which is going to be rather interesting.  

I reduced the thermostat to 60F, today; the electric heater was on for most of the evening, although I've turned it off, now.  In the meantime, the gas company sent out a notice today about a public hearing on their proposal to...guess what?  Yes, they want to raise the price of gas!  No kidding!

I called friend R to check on her in the evening; she's been without internet and TV service all day, but, she had electricity.  I tried to call Aunt C to check on her (her backyard gets flooded when it rains, she has told me), but, she didn't answer the phone and I couldn't leave a message for her because I received an automated recording that her mail box was full.  Maybe her phone service is affected due to the storms.  I will try calling her tomorrow.  Later, I video chatted with my daughter.

Brunch was a bowl of soup and I had a piece of cornbread with my cup of tea in the evening.  Dinner was leftover pasta with sausage and pasta sauce.  

Today, I am grateful for:

- The strong winds didn't cause any visible damage to my house and garden (just a few potted plants knocked over)
- Friends calling to check on me
- I have electricity and internet connections
- I have heating, even though it is costing a lot
- Having savings in place to pay for higher than expected bills!

Today's joyful activity was video chatting with my daughter.  

Sunday is supposed to be mostly cloudy with a 14% chance of rain.  Plans for Sunday include a little card making.

How was your Saturday?  What are your plans for Sunday?


  1. I don't think you are obsessing about your gas bill. It's a lot of money to suddenly find anyway, let alone when you are on a fixed income. I hope you can find a way to manage it and still be able to stay warm.

    We've been in receipt of a government payment to reduce our monthly fuel bills. For me that was £67 a month but that stops soon and I'll have to find the money to replace it so I too am looking at my budget. What really annoys me is that they are talking about increases the prices from April and at the same time publish the profits that the energy companies have made ... at a time when we are all struggling, and I'm fortunately better off than many, the companies are announcing annual profits of billions of pounds. It's just outrageous! xx

    1. Thank you, Eileen. It's a blessing that I have savings in place to pay these unusually high expenses. I'm keeping the gas heater turned down and relying on the electric heater to keep me warm. It works well enough when I am seated in one place! LOL. Obviously, I can do this because it is just me; it wouldn't work if my daughter was also at home.
      Yes, even here, the petrol companies posted huge profits during the time when people were paying high prices for gas for their vehicles.
      I hope you are able to tweak your budget to find the extra funds you need to cover the increase in your fuel bills, Eileen.

  2. Your area has been having quite a storm. I'm glad that things weren't too bad for you. The price for gas seems very high. Is CA adding on expenses trying to reduce the use of fossil fuel that gas company is passing on? We don't have gas to our house. I wish we did.

    1. I'm very glad that I have had no storm damage to my house and garden. There's more rain in the forecast and I'm hopeful that all we get is rain and not strong winds!
      Yes, there are taxes, fees, and charges added on to the gas bill. They amounted to $52.50 on my current bill. It's the gas commodity fee (the cost of gas purchased by the gas company on behalf of its customers, as the bill defines it) that is the highest cost! At over $2 per therm on my current bill, it is more than twice the rate per therm!
      L.A. is now going more electric than gas; newer homes being built are being required to be all electric. I don't know if our electric grid can provide the electricity needed! Every summer, we are asked to conserve energy to avoid rolling black outs!

  3. It's reassuring that your friends and family and neighbours call to check you are okay. With the terrible weather and high fuel bills life can be such a worry. It's much the same here, our bills have increased dramatically although I have a monthly direct debit and it does even itself out over the year but the monthly cost is high and we know lots of other bills are set to increase in April, the new financial year. It's a good idea to keep the chart to keep an eye on your usage although I am thinking I'll worry about the bills when they come in as we need to keep warm and well fed. Take care and stay warm.

    1. It is very kind of people to check on me to see if I'm OK. I appreciate that very much. :)
      I suppose I could enroll in the gas company's monthly level payment plan, to try and keep the gas bill even, but, even then, one will get a bill at the end of the year or twice a year, maybe, to adjust payments as needed. I've kept charts for previous years and my usage more or less stays the same, but, the charges go up! LOL.
      I hope your bills don't increase too dramatically, Eileen. You are right, we do need to keep warm and well fed. :)

  4. That is awful about your gas bills. Ours are outrageous here, too. Twice what we used to pay. I am glad the winds didn't do too much damage to your place. Have fun making cards today. xo Diana

    1. Thank you, Diana; it's not that easy to keep warm, these days, is it? Especially with everything else going up! I can try to reduce my usage but, it's not easy because I feel cold so easily.
      Yes, I'm very happy that there was no damage to my property from the storms!
      Hope you are keeping well and warm over there - I heard you received some snow! :D

  5. How kind of T's daughter and M to check on you. I'm glad you didn't have any serious damage from the storm. As for the gas company wanting to raise the price of gas.....goodness, I hope not!
    We had more snow overnight but not a problem to get out for the choir rehearsal and mass. We are planning a walk this afternoon. It is actually 38°F right now but windy, so we will still have to bundle up.

    1. Wasn't it very kind of them to check on me? There are some very kind people around and I am blessed to have some of them in my life.
      I am seriously considering attending the public hearing as it is being held online for everyone's safety and convenience.
      Glad the snow didn't hinder you going to choir rehearsals and mass. Hope you enjoy your afternoon walk! Bundle up warmly!

  6. That's almost criminal, increasing gas prices so much. For what? Oh, yes, profits for the already wealthy. I am so fortunate that my water, power and internet are included in my very reasonable rent. It's not easy for anyone on fixed, or lower, incomes to have to keep reducing their costs of living. xxxxxxxx

    1. According to the gas company, it is due to the increase in the cost of gas and providing the services! LOL. No mention of increased profits! :D
      You are, indeed, fortunate to have your water, power, and internet included in your rent. You are right; many people on low or fixed income don't have a lot of leeway in their budgets.
      Hope you are keeping well, Ratnamurti, and the storm damages in your area is not affecting you too much.

  7. It's very reasonable to keep a close watch on your gas use and bill. Adjusting your budget is really a necessity. It's shocking how much gas has gone up there. It seems like the gas company is taking advantage of it's customers. I hope you can stay dry, and warm as well. That has been quite the storm there!

    1. Thank you, Celie. My gas use has been fairly consistent for the past several years (I've kept records from 2016 onwards). What has been increasing are the fees being charged for transporting the gas, for purchasing the gas, for distributing the gas, etc. All of which I have no control over! The gas commodity fee (price paid by the gas company to purchase gas) almost quadrupled between December and January! The gas company claimed it was due to price increases due to the severe winter in other states and the demand on gas! Somehow, I don't believe them, but, then, there's nothing much I can do about it, is there? Other than not use gas at all, which I can't do because I can't take the cold!

  8. I'm sorry about all the rain! Hopefully it will stop soon.

    Raising the gas prices is just ridiculous. It wouldn't bother me so much if the energy company's were shouldering some of the weight of increased costs, but it seems their profits are skyrocketing and saying that it is due to raising costs just seems silly when it's like that!

    1. Thank you, Sharon; we had a dry day, today, but, more rain is in the forecast for next week!
      Oh, no, the energy companies simply pass along the costs to us, the consumers. Then, if we cut back, trying to save money, they say they are not getting enough to do the required maintenance and increase rates! That happened with the water and power company, several years ago - they asked people to conserve due to the drought and so forth and people complied. Then, they said they didn't earn enough money to fund maintenance of equipment and raised rates! :D

  9. I'm glad that you're okay. Those sort of winds are scary. Here they're categorised as potential threat. The cost of energy has gone crazy here too and people are worrying about heating their homes.

    Sending hugs

    1. Thank you, Lyssa. Those were strong gusts of wind!
      The cost of energy has gone sky high, hasn't it? Of course, I am grateful to have electricity and natural gas, etc., but, it is becoming more and more of a privilege to be able to afford to heat your home!

  10. My goodness! You have had some stormy weather. Those winds would've worried me. I'm glad you came through it ok.
    I would be feeling the same as you as far as the gas bill. And now they are looking for a price increase?? I would be nuts had I received that bill and then that notice. I might just show up at that hearing I would be so nuts. lol. I'm sure it will be well attended.
    We budget very similarly although you drill down more specifically inside of categories then I do. I also put away monthly into categories for bills not yet received.
    Do you have other categories that you didn't spend up to the allotted amount last year? What did you do with that money and with those categories when making the new year's budget? Are there categories you can lower spending then divert the money to your utilities?
    I'm sure you've already thought of that.
    No doubt you will work it out because you're very good at managing your money plus you live a very simple and peaceful life and don't have a lot of demands on your income.
    That lifestyle is helpful when it comes to situations like this.

    1. The winds were really strong and it looks like I have some garage roof tiles damaged. Need to find someone to fix that for me.
      Yes, the gas bill. The public hearing is supposed to be a Zoom meeting and I just might log in to see how it goes. They sent me the "you have used X much more gas than your energy efficient neighbors" notification in today's mail. I'm tempted to write something rude like, "And I have the bill to prove it, too! Tell me something I don't know!" and mail it back to them! LOL! I can't help it if I feel cold when it is below 80F! The house is at 65F now, and I'm wearing my fingerless mittens while I type this!
      Usually, any money not spent during a certain year, simply stays in the checking account, forming a cushion to cover unanticipated or higher than anticipated bills, such as the over the top gas bill! Or, unspent money in one category gets diverted to pay for extras in other categories (like the six extra bags of pea gravel that were needed to finish off the parkway).
      I have been considering if I can lower my other budget categories - there is usually something that can be cut, isn't there?

  11. It was kind of K to check in on you. That weather sounded wild! X

    1. It was very kind of K to check on me, wasn't it? Yes, it was quite a storm that we had over the weekend! I am wondering if this is going to be our "new normal" with changing weather patterns and all.


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