Do you get your bills and pay them without taking a second glance? What if your bill is higher than normal? Do you just assume it’s your fault and pay it?
My mother came to live with me recently. She’s very ill and can’t live at her home but she is still paying the utility bills. She’s also still paying for her rental washing machine. I wrote about that in 2008, and now the machine is sitting there unused. Well, we hope it’s not being used. Her home is in a poor neighborhood and frankly I would not put it past the neighbors to use the washing machine since they know the home is currently vacant.
Since she’s been here, I’ve been helping her pay her bills. We got her set up with a Wells Fargo account and I’ve put all her bills into the Bill Pay area. It literally takes less than five minutes to pay her bills. I wish it was that easy for mine!
I’ve been taking a look at her utility bills, trying to see if we can save her some money. The first thing I found was that she has been paying for every single feature possible for her land line phone. Call forwarding, call waiting, three way calling, voice messaging, speed dial, everything, you name it, she was paying for it. My mother has a severe hearing condition called hyperacusis – she cannot bear to talk on the phone. So… she’s been paying for a lot of features that she would never have used. She wants to return to her home as soon as she possibly can, so we have left the phone turned on, but I did have phone company remove the extras.
I hadn’t paid much attention to her water, trash and sewage bill since her roommate was still living in the home for a few weeks until he found his own place to live. I figured the bill would be about the same amount, and when he left the water usage did decrease.
When I looked at my mom’s bill, I was not paying attention to how many gallons were being used. I was paying more attention to the dollars. There’s a $10.50 fee for the residential meter base fee, and then 94 cents per 1000 gallons for Tier 1 fees, $1.44 per 1000 gallons for Tier 2 fees, and $2.16 per 1000 gallons for Tier 3 fees. Those seem to be pretty reasonable prices.
The house has been completely vacant, so we expected the water bill to go down even further. My husband has been going over weekly to water the fruit trees, so we expected there to be some water usage. However, I was shocked to see the bill had more than doubled since the previous month.
That’s when I realized something is wrong. I’ve talked before on the blog here about the fact that we haul our own water. As a result, we are hyper aware of how much water we use. So when I saw that 11,000 gallons of water were used in one month’s time, I was shocked. We haul our water using a 500 gallon tank. We’d have to go to the community well 22 times. That’s a lot of water.
In looking over my mom’s water usage, this is pretty much normal usage. How in the world does a vacant home use 11,000 gallons of water in a month? How in the world do two people use up to 18,000 gallons of water in a month?
It seems to me that something fishy is going on. We’re going to have to get to the bottom of this mystery.
In the meantime, do you examine your utility bills every once in awhile?
This post was included at:
Carnival of Retirement at Family Money Values
Carnival of Financial Planning at Frugal Rules
Aspiring Blogger Financial Carnival at Aspiring Blogger
Yakezie Carnival at Faithful With a Few
Carnival of Financial Camaraderie at The Wealth Gospel
Carn Financial Independence at Carnival of Financial Independence