Welcome to the Real World

Student Editor: Andrea G.

Living on your own for the first time can be both exciting and intimidating. Here is a guide to utility bills to make your transition to the real world of paying bills easier. 

Everyone knows that becoming an adult and living on your own comes with the beauty of paying utility bills. I must admit that it was intimidating when I first moved for college, to go from never even looking at a utility bill to suddenly being responsible of keeping track of my bills and pay them on time.  The first month was difficult because I did not know how utility bills worked or how much I should expect to pay monthly. After trial and error, I have learned a few things about utility bills that I hope can be useful to anyone having to pay a utility bill.

By definition, utility bills are “living expenses” that one pays monthly to sustain a home or apartment. Depending on your living complex, these can include water, electricity, gas, telephone, and cable. These can be a fixed amount per month, such as telephone or cable. Other utilities like electricity and gas vary depending on how much you actually use. While the conversion of usage from kilowatts or consumption by cubic feet to how much you pay is complex, there are four major components on a utility bill that you should pay attention to. These include:

  • Amount Due from Previous Bill: the total amount that was due on your previous bill

  • Payment(s) Received: the amount that was paid

  • Balance Forward: the amount that is still due

  • Current Electrical Charges: the total amount that is due for this month’s bill

  • Current Amount Due: the sum of the amount that is still due and the amount for this month’s payment.

On average, paying electricity, water, cable, telephone, internet, and insurance adds up to roughly $200 per month for an apartment with one person. You can add or take away from this amount depending on each situation. Some people do not have to pay certain utilities if it is included in their rent or if they live with a roommate, which would divide the amount by half. Nevertheless, it is useful to know how much you can expect to pay so that you can plan accordingly. 

Moreover, utility bills can become a strain on your monthly budget but here are a few tips to reduce the amount due on your flexible utility bills:

  1. Go Green! Using energy-saving light bulbs and upgrading to energy efficient appliances will save you a pile of cash on your energy bills, while saving the planet at the same time.

  2. Paint your ceiling white. This could help your house or apartment stay cool during the warmer months, reducing the amount of energy you need to use. 

  3. Check your apartment or house before you go to sleep. We all accidently leave a light on or keep the television on at night. Doing a nightly energy sweep can help you avoid those costs that can be deemed unnecessary. 

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