Monday, January 16, 2017

Utilities...The Poor Farm Budget 2017






Utilities. We have them. At one time when we planned to downsize our lives and move to The Poor Farm we did fantasize about being 100% off grid, but now we're not so sure that is a reachable goal. whirling quickly towards our 60's, our limited resources have altered our dreams.

Solar or wind power for electricity for example, probably not going to happen. We'll see. In the meantime, our total monthly budget for utilities is $283/month and breaks down like this:

Electricity budget/month is $80. Sadly it is via Commonwealth Edison, which is not well known for their customer service. Our power goes out about every other month, at all times of the year. Usually only for 1-2 hours, but in bad storms we can lose it for up to 8 hours. Too many customers and not enough equipment we hear. It is the only electric company that serves this area. We do not have central air but do use a window air conditioner occasionally on very hot summer days. We also have three freezers (kept in the decrepit house) that we use for meat and veggie storage. Soon we'll be down to just two freezers, plus in the Looney Bin: one small refrigerator, one washing machine, a 20 gallon water heater and a small water softener.

Heat: ZERO! Our sole source of Looney Bin heat is our Rocket Mass Heater. Because it burns only sticks of wood, one to two inch diameter rather than logs, we use scrap wood, twigs, cuttings from here on our property. It does take time to collect and sometimes split larger hunks of wood into smaller sticks, but there is no cash layout involved. We estimate we will burn less than a half cord of wood to heat our home for the entire year, October through March, since we fire up the heater only 2-4 hours each day and not at all on days when it is more than thirty degrees outside. When the RMH is running, inside temps are 70-72 and stay there a good 8 hrs after the fire is out. On winter days when it is not burning, inside temps are 60-64 degrees. Perfect Irish sweater weather.








Water: ZERO! We have a 150 foot well which supplies our our water needs for us and our livestock. Water heating expense is covered above under electricity.

Garbage: ZERO! We are allowed to burn trash here in the country and recycle lots of non-burnable things all over the farm. Anything that requires a dumpster we haul into town once every couple of weeks to a free dump site.

Phones: $120/month through Verizon.  Keith owns a basic flip phone and I have a smart phone. I used it often when we had our own organic meat and raw milk business as we juggled hundreds of customers each month and several restaurants . Then, it was very useful when I was in school full time in 2014-2016 but now...it is only a luxury. So, we'll be looking into a basic phone for me and kissing the smart phone goodbye. Hope to slash this budget in half soon.

Internet budget: 60/month. The internet service through Frontier will stay, as vital for my writing career and since I'll be giving up the smart phone, I'll need a place to blog, and check weather, and recipes, and chat with my sisters and to watch how to YouTube videos and on and on. I can give up a lot, but not the internet, at least not yet.

TV budget: $8/month for Netflix. We do not watch cable or any other service. Netflix is more than enough.

Propane budget: $10/month for my cook stove. I have a four burning gas stove we converted to propane and a small 100 pound propane tank that sits outside my kitchen window. The tank gets refilled about every 6 months. I do cook meals/ bake everyday and can our produce as well. We do reheat food on the RMH but since we don't burn it everyday, and only half of the year, it's not used for regular meal preps.

So, I ask you, what does your utility budget look like? If you use solar or wind power for your electricity can you share your costs for that? Tell me how you heat your home and at what price. Do you use a basic phone? Smart phone? How much is Internet in your neck of the woods or plains?

Can't wait to hear.

21 comments:

  1. One way we save is that my husband and I both have pay-as-you-go Net 10 phones. Unlimited phone, texting and internet for $35 a month (per person). Internet speed goes down after a certain amount of useage but you can tap into WiFi with it. We've had these for years and don't intend to "upgrade". The phones you can find on sale at Giant Eagle sometimes for as low as $10. No water bill (well) but we do have everything else. I'm thinking of trying to reduce out garbage plan during the next billing cycle as we do throw out a lot of stuff that is totally burnable.

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    1. I wanted to mention with the phone - I do just about everything on-line using it (it's even replaced our Garmin for travel) BUT blogger won't upload photos from it. Or maybe I just can't figure out how to.

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    2. I do love my Smart phone, a Motorola Droid, for its pictures and uploading abilities. Since I own it I plan to keep it for just that but hate the idea of carrying more than one device with me. I'm old enough to remember carrying a boom box, a brownie camera and a cordless phone (big as breadbox) out into the yard to sunbathe. I was so 70's cool.

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    3. Depending on how much you talk on your phone, TracPhone is a good deal. I ordered a phone and it came with a deal - triple times the minutes every time you purchased time - any left over mins get rolled over and so on and so on. You can use your regular phone - I spend $19.99 every three months. When they upgraded their internal system, they sent me a new phone free. Also our Verizon phone company has a special landline for seniors - its about $10 a month which covers all incoming and outgoing calls but not long distance (that is .05 per minute) - so when I call NY to RI to talk to family, I can talk for 20 minutes for $1 or 30 for $1.50... worth every penny. Its handy when you lose electricity since computer and cable wire don't work then.

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    4. Hello, I am Theresa Williams After being in relationship with Anderson for years, he broke up with me, I did everything possible to bring him back but all was in vain, I wanted him back so much because of the love I have for him, I begged him with everything, I made promises but he refused. I explained my problem to my friend and she suggested that I should rather contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the type that never believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I mailed the spell caster, and he told me there was no problem that everything will be okay before three days, that my ex will return to me before three days, he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4 pm. My ex called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened that he wanted me to return to him, that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to him that was how we started living together happily again. Since then, I have made promise that anybody I know that have a relationship problem, I would be of help to such person by referring him or her to the only real and powerful spell caster who helped me with my own problem. email: drogunduspellcaster@gmail.com you can email him if you need his assistance in your relationship or any other Case.

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  2. Your internet bill is about twice ours, and ours includes free phone (which I don't use). I don't bother with a mobile phone; if they want to contact me they'll have to wait till I'm at home!

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    1. I'd like to get to that spot again Cro, the one where I can take off without a phone with me at all times. I certainly managed for the first 40 decades of my life. If my father wanted us he whistled. If we didn't hear him and got home late, we missed supper. It was a beautiful system.

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  3. Oh, I remember well those days of Com Ed. Now, in Michigan , we have Consumer's Energy---and it's not much better. We've had TWO Christmases in a row with no power. Last year it was for 3 days. Ugh.

    Electric--$60 per month. No AC, 3 freezers, 2 computers, 2 fridges
    Propane --$700 for the year. We BOUGHT a 1000 gallon tank and has that ever paid for itself. We buy in July, when it's the cheapest (89cents)and it lasts all year--gas stove, water heater, and furnace
    Phone-$90 a month-that is with our DIAL UP INTERNET. YEs-you feel sorry for me right now, don't you!!!! I hate it. We have no other options here. Had satellite internet--sucked!!
    Cell Phone $20 a month thru AARP --it sits in the truck for emergencies. Doesn't work at home -we're in a valley

    Did you get my email about the English Muffins? There seemed to be a problem with the email address.........

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    1. Yes, I did get the email and I thought I responded, or did I just dream that? Anyway many thanks, will be trying out soon. And yes I hated dial up too but that noise it makes while connecting...kinda nostalgic.

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  4. Try republic wireless for your cell phones! Their plans are cheap and start out at $15 a month, but you do have to buy your phones from them. I have been considering switching us over when I get my tax refund and can afford three new phones at a time.

    Does frontier internet work? I am stranded in a funny little spot on the edge of town. We don't get city water, electric, or sewer, plus no garbage service, cable service, or satellite tv signals here. (there is funny interference that makes radio and cell phone signals spotty too) The farm & home store that is my neighbor gets all of those things, as does the cornfield across the street, but not the actual residence on the block, lol. My only option for internet right now is at&t dsl which sucks. i have major connection issues, they throttle us for watching netflix, and we have a ridiculously low data cap with no way to raise it. If someone is stuck at home sick for a few days or the weather is bad and we are all inside, we can use up all our internet in less than two weeks, and it costs me an extra ten dollars every three days after that. During the winter my internet bill can double what it normally runs.

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    1. Our frontier connection is decent enough but when it goes down, the customer service stinks. Still, yours sounds much worse so I'll shut my trap about Frontier. No extra charges if I watch Netflix all day which I don't but I could if I wanted to.

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  5. In some ways, I'm lucky. My heat/light & cable come with the rent although the Landlord has control of both. My unlimited cell costs me $65 a month thru Fido & my internet/fax/long distance costs $70. I don't complain as I write off half of each as business expenses. FIDO is very good & rarely gives me a problem other than sometimes delivering Friday messages on Sunday or Monday. The cable - we only have one company SHAW - is quite reliable but their decoder thingie is not when there's a lot of wind, rain or snow in the air.

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    1. The more I read everyones Internet moans and woes (my own included) the more I am missing our simpler life of the 70's. If you were home and the phone rang you answered. If there was show on TV and you liked it, you watched it. And WLS radio Chicago played way better music than anyone for free.

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  6. For my husband and myself (and 5 dogs, 2 cats, and 16 chickens), I'm budgeting $250/month for utilities in 2017. I budget high, for "just in case of.." but my 2017 goal is $200/month.

    My 2017 budget;
    Electric is $87/month (averaged over last 12 months). That includes a $29.95 access fee, and $0.13/KWH.

    Our well is 325 feet. I counted. Twice. Arg! We live in a semi-arid climate on the prairie, and we grow food. Water just disappears here. Water is our next mountain to conquer since the well is the majority of our electric bill. I recycle water as much as I can, then greywater to the plants, and I compost humanure.

    Internet is $56/month for unlimited data with Viaero.

    Two smart phones are $95/month with AT&T.

    No entertainment-type services, no trash service, we don't use the propane tanks.

    Heating is from solar, and/or, up to $5/month in electric. (I use a kill-a-watt to monitor it.) Hot water is also solar, electric or wood.

    Our solar is from our sunroom, the cost was around $3,000 in 2013.

    You've sparked some thoughts that I'd like to see put into action this year. This has been a lot of fun!

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    1. Greywater, don't get me started. There are no regulations for such in Illinois and thus it is considered illegal. Ridiculous state we live in.Love your solar sunroom use. Do you live in an earthship? Sounds a bit like one.

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    2. No, we live in a sandstone house on the prairie in Colorado. But I guess you don't get much "earth"ier than rock! Our friend's Grandparents built the house in the 20's. Before they built the house they lived in the dugout, it's sandstone too. You wanting a root cellar made me thing, we aren't putting it to good use.

      We have friends in Illinois who stayed for a week last June, then another week traveling around the state. They told us about their garden. I was shocked they could just leave it for 2 weeks and it just grew on it's own! Here a garden is like milking chores (we had goats), at least twice a day tending.

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  7. Even with our windmill, our electricity bill is about €1200 every 2 months. Milking machine is hard on electricitY!
    Our back boiler on our fire is broken so it doesn't heat the water anymore - would be huge job to replace but would be so handy so we need to think about it as use oil to heat water in winter. Love our wood burning stove in the kitchen, makes a room that used to be Arctic quite cosy.

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    1. Oh I do remember our high electric on our old farm, Lorna, with all our cows. Now we just milk one and use an electric milk claw and bucket set up. I love our little electric water heater which easily meets the needs of just two. In the days when all four kids were home...lots of hot water used. Yikes!

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  8. Oh, and we can't get Netflix - wifi isn't good enough :( Dying to watch The Crown, keep hearing people saying it was brilliant.

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    1. The Crown is brilliant indeed. I had no idea how ignorant I was about the Queen and her duties until watching it. I hear it's fairly true to life as well.

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  9. Project Fi... Have been absent in my farm blog followings for the last I don't know how long, because, well...farming. Congrats on the amazing progress you have been making. I'm loving catching up.

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