ETT Budget Breakdown with YNAB – Bills

Piggy Banks in Space!

I love seeing how other people budget, getting down to the nitty-gritty of their categories and numbers, but I don’t feel it is fair to gain value out of what others are contributing without contributing something ourselves. As promised, here is the first Budget Breakdown for the Enough Time Machine. This represents how much we budget per month, not necessarily how much we spend. Today we are starting with the essentials – Bills.

YNAB Bills Category

Gas, Electricity, Water

$56, $135, $85. These amounts basically correlate to the actual monthly cost. I budget a little more to cover high periods of usage or changes to supply rates. To a degree, these are non-negotiable items in our budget. Why to a degree? Well, I can categorically state that we cannot and do not want to live without water, electricity and/or gas. We are incredibly lucky to live in a country where you can easily access safe, clean water with the twist of a tap, or electricity for light, warmth, cooking and entertainment at the flick of a button. However, what may be possible is to reduce our costs in this area, either by shopping around for other providers with better rates, or by investigating alternative sources such as grey water systems or solar generation. It is possible we could reduce our usage, however according to our bills, we are doing pretty well with that already. According to the Sydney Water “Water Efficiency Targets” website, we are using less than a single person in a small house, while our electricity usage is also less than a single person:

The ETTs Electricity Usage
The two of us use less electricity than the average single person (10.19 vs. 15.6)
Water Usage Combined
Our water usage is less than a single person in a small house

Goal 1: Research whether our gas, water and electricity providers are as competitive as they could be.

Goal 2: Look into alternative sources; costs and practicality for us.

Council rates

$120. This amount correlates to the actual monthly cost. Our Council Rates are fixed, non-negotiable and non-competitive, having the monopoly. The only possible way of reducing our rates slightly is to reduce the size of one of our bins.

Goal 3: Investigate how much we could save if we reduced our bin sizes.

Internet/Home Phone

$90. This amount correlates to the actual monthly cost. Yes, we still have and still use a home phone as I haven’t quite moved into the modern age and embraced smartphones. Actually, I find my mobile to mostly be an annoyance and pretty much only use it for SMS. Because it isn’t a smart phone, I am quite happy to do without it, and have had periods of up to 5 days where it has been out of battery without me realising. While I am still attached to our home phone, as more and more of our friends move to mobile phones only, it is not economically viable to call them from a landline. Anyway, Mr. ETT researches both of these categories fairly regularly to make sure we are getting the best deal for the level of service that we want. We could definitely reduce costs here, but we know that we want more than a basic service, so we are  happy to pay it.

Goal 4: Consider getting rid of the home phone. Do you still have a landline/home phone? Why or why not?


$40. This amount correlates to the actual monthly cost. Mine is something like $10/month, Mr. ETT has a full-service smartphone, so the rest is made up here. As above, Mr. ETT is pretty on top of the deals out there.


$25. This amount correlates to the actual monthly cost. We haven’t watched ‘real’ (free-to-air) TV for quite some time. Long before Netflix we’d almost given it up anyway due to the advertisements (when even SBS and ABC got into the act it was all downhill from there). We watched box sets instead. With Netflix, we no longer have to find storage space for DVDs, big win! Also, there is so much old content we’ve never seen, as well as all of the new content to watch that we rarely have time to revisit our old box sets or movies.


$10. This amount represents more than the monthly cost, if I use the data as per the plan. This gives me mobile Internet access on my iPad when I am out of the house. I prepay $140 for 16GB over a period of 2 years ($5.80/month or $8.75/GB). I’ve used 53% in 11 months, so I am pretty much on track to get value out of this. I’ve also recently changed my blog reading habits so any blogs that don’t offer the full feed in my RSS reader now wait until I get home to read them, and any comments I want to make are usually also made at home when on Wi-Fi. This saves me connecting on the train every day, when I really have plenty more offline reading I could be doing anyway.


$5. We almost paid off the mortgage years ago, but when it came to making that final payment I hesitated. My heart said “Yes! Be totally debt free!” My head said “Think about it first, what are the potential downsides?” We have a small chunk of money sitting in the offset account that we could access in an emergency, but until we know what our goals are, and come up with an investment plan, it is cheaper to keep the current mortgage than pay it out and start again if we decided to go down the investment property or house upgrade route. $5/month more than covers the remainder and any monthly interest.


$45. This amount correlates to the actual monthly cost. I belong to the union at work, but quite frankly I’m not sure of the value. This is more than we pay for both mobile phones, which are used daily (in Mr. ETT’s case). Things have changed a lot since the years long ago when I first joined. I should probably look into this further.

Goal 5: Research the current and potential value I get from the Union.


A holding category for any new or forgotten bills that pop up. Hasn’t been used much – once for our PO Box, and once for the tax accountant’s bill.

All up, bills represent 8.2% of our total budget. Watch and see how this graph changes as we investigate other Budget Categories.

ETT Budget Breakdown Bubble Graph Bills
ETT Budget Breakdown Bubble Graph Bills

8 thoughts on “ETT Budget Breakdown with YNAB – Bills

  1. Adventures with Poopsie says:

    I love reading people’s budgets as well. Thanks for sharing.

    You live in Sydney and have almost paid off your mortgage? That is awesome, well done. So impressive!

    We don’t have a home phone and in fact, I have never had one since moving out of home in 2006. My parents still have one. They don’t answer it if they don’t recognise the number because it might be a telemarketer. I have tried to explain that they can hang up if it is, but they prefer to just let it ring out. Us four kids only call them on their mobiles so I have been trying to convince them to get rid of it but to no avail.

    Admittedly I don’t know a lot about Unions and their costs, but that does seem very high to me.

    Looking for to seeing what makes up all of the remainder!

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      Hey AwP. Actually, it is far less impressive than you think:

      1/ We bought nearly 20 years ago. The market was nowhere near as crazy INSANE as it is now. If we weren’t in already, there is no way we could afford to buy a house in today’s market.
      2/ We are in the far outer suburbs of Sydney, not Sydney itself. Still probably couldn’t afford to buy here, but the median is not $1,000,000 like in Sydney city.

      I sound like your parents! We screen all calls through the answering machine because even though we are on the Do Not Call register, we still get those pesky overseas marketers. It is a concern that if I move to pure mobile, they might just transfer themselves to my mobile. Then again, I guess I could do what you say and just not pick up if I don’t recognise the number. A friend said yesterday that his phone gives him a warning when a possible spam/telemarketing call comes through. I’d be interested in that service, for sure.

  2. Martin - Get FIRE'd asap says:

    Hi there Mrs ETT and thanks for sharing your budget with us. May I make a couple of suggestions? Re your internet home phone, unless you are on NBN you’ll need a home line for the broadband service as it’s how this is delivered. However, you don’t need to use the home line for calls. In the Get FIRE’d household we have this but we have a plan that only costs $39 a month. Our mobile plans have unlimited calling so we use these for all calls. I recently switched to amaysim which costs $24.90 a month, unlimited calling and 1.5gb of data. There’s a link on my homepage that will give you a $10 credit if you switch.

    My next suggestion is to get a cheap smartphone, switch to amaysim (using my link of course) and then teather your iPad to the phone when you need mobile data, and ditch the additional iPad data plan. Again, that’s what we did in the GF household.

    And as for union fees, my suggestion is to do some analysis on what benefits you get or may get from paying $540 a year to these mobs. I was talked into joining a union a few years ago and when I needed some advice on a work related matters, they were of no help and didn’t appear in the slightest bit interested. I canned their payments immediately. Up to you but I certainly wouldn’t be paying them anything unless the benefits are obvious.

    I hope this is of help in some small way.


    • Mrs. ETT says:

      Hey Martin, thanks for the in-depth comment, and the link. I’m going to be collating all of my goals from this series and working my way through one-by-one. This will definitely help. We are on the NBN, so I guess there’s no pressing reason for us to keep the home line. Also, using a smartphone to tether my iPad is a great idea, so I would be saving money in two sub-categories. In truth, I don’t even have to shell out for a smartphone, because Mr. ETT has his last two sitting there, waiting for me to take advantage of them. So far, my old Nokia has said NO!

      Is it valid for me to agree about the Storm simply because I like purple more than blue? So many footy parties on today, I’ll probably end up watching. Enjoy the game, and good luck!

      • Martin - Get FIRE'd asap says:

        If you already have the smartphones you’re set to rock ‘n roll, Mrs ETT. Just get on board with a new plan, ditch the home line and the iPad plan and you’re away laughing.

        Looking forward to the game, and yes, choose purple and you should be on the winning side ;-).

        PS. I think you must be the only person I know who still has a Nokia mobile phone lol. Do you still have your BETA video player as well hehe

  3. Dividends Down Under says:

    Really like how you’ve laid out your budget for us Mrs ETT.

    I’m curious about which energy provider(s) you’re with. We also apparently use 1 person’s amount of energy for our gas and electricity (who are these single people using all the electricity?). We recently signed up to a deal with AGL for $100 off electricity an $100 of gas. Saved us a big % of our bills 🙂

    We don’t have a home phone, the only people who would ring us on that are spam calls / telemarketers. We have a grandfathered $60 a month plan for all the internet we need at home.

    Congrats on paying off your mortgage! That must make you a very long way towards FI?

    Unions? Heh. The history of unions is very important, they’ve secured a lot of the good things that employees benefit from today, but there doesn’t seem to be much benefit at the moment. It’s up to you 🙂


    • Mrs. ETT says:

      We are with Energy Australia.

      Re: paying off the mortgage – we would have been a long way to FI if we’d have discovered FI back when we paid off the mortgage. Unfortunately, we are only discovering it this year, so we are at the very beginning 🙁 Live and learn – the best time to start was 25 years ago, the second best time to start is now!

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