Variable utility payments ---- adjust the budget once you've paid the bill?

Hi! I set a monthly goal for my utility bills each month; the goal is on the higher end, to make sure I have enough budgeted for higher months. Well, I just paid my monthly natural gas bill, and the amount was more than $100 less than what I budgeted, since it's summer time. Should I adjust the month's goal ($153) to what I paid this month ($47) so that I can re-budget those leftover dollars for another category? I don't think it's super useful to roll that remaining budgeted amount to a future month, since I set my monthly goal to make sure that I have enough to pay on the higher months. Any tips? Thanks!

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  • It's not a bad idea to budget for the average annual charge (if you know what that is.)  It sounds like you're on the low end of the cycle, so this is the perfect time to start accumulating some in that category for when the prices rise.  This just makes it easier to budget in the higher months, if you've already accumulated some from when you didn't have to pay as much.

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  • I don't think I actually have a goal set for my utility payments.  Our highest utility bill was around $200 once, so each month I fill the category up to $200.  Effectively I budget as much this month as we spent last month.

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  • I budget the average and carryover (and enough to avoid overspending if whatever surplus I've built up is insufficient). If you're going to budget the max, I think you're right that it doesn't make sense to carryover.

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  • Hi there, it sounds as though you are budgeting for the highest possible amount for every month which will give you lots of leftover dollars. You don't need to change the goal but you can simply move the extra available funds to another category. 

    An alternative is to figure out what your total amount of the bill would be, figure out how much you would need to budget each month and then fund that. During the summer, you would have a small amount leftover each month and you would leave it in the budget so that when you get to the winter, your budgeted amount plus the leftovers from previous months should cover the bigger bill.

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  • Navy Blue Pegasus said:
    An alternative [...] figure out how much you would need to budget each month

    This thread (and the spreadsheet recently posted therein) might help with such analysis (using bill amounts from the last 12 months as estimates of upcoming bills).

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  • Thanks all! These are helpful suggestions ---- and, helps me to see that there are many different ways to approach this. Also, somehow I missed the fact that you don't need to set a goal.  I just started using YNAB a few weeks ago, and the training tutorials emphasize settings goals, so I've set a goal for every budget line item. I will re-evaluate whether that's necessary moving forward.

    Really appreciate all your help!

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