Tips for creating a successful utilities budget.

It’s not easy to know how much to budget for utilities because costs can change monthly. If you want to create a successful utilities budget, here are a few tips to follow.

Do your research.

Just because costs vary doesn’t mean it’s impossible to know how much you should budget for utilities. The best way to build an accurate one is to see how much your utilities cost in the past.

Do some research and see how much you paid for utilities in a certain month the previous year. As long as your utility needs haven’t changed much (i.e., another person hasn’t moved in or you moved into a larger house), your utility bill this year should be relatively similar. Use this data to help you build an accurate budget for the upcoming year.

Include a contingency.

Even with the best research data, there’s still a good chance your utility bills won’t be identical to what they were last year. Be sure to include a small contingency in your utilities budget to cover any variability in costs. You never know when you might get hit with a higher bill and having that extra money will ensure you don’t break your budget.

Organize and update your utilities budget.

Things don’t stay the same forever. When something changes — like installing new energy-efficient windows, for example — your utility bills will change, too. Update your budget regularly, so it’ll be as accurate as possible for the future.

The best way to stay organized and make updates easy is to keep your utility budget information in an Excel spreadsheet. You can also convert the Excel file to a PDF to make it easy to share and collaborate with family members or, if it’s for a business, other team members.

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