Several weeks ago, we moved to Boise. (Read all about the move in this post) While we had an understanding that the cost of living between Portland and Boise was 10-30% cheaper, we didn’t know exactly how that was going to affect our budgets. Was electricity going to be cheaper or more expensive, especially with a larger house? Was natural gas cheaper in Idaho? How would fuel costs affect us since Idaho is much more spread out and requires more driving to school or work? A budget experiment, analysis, and implementation was going to take place. This is our findings
In order for the experiment to be effective, I collected four months worth of data. This was easily tracked in our Mint.com budget. I chose four months so I could spot trends and any anomalies that might come up, especially with the activation of new accounts such as garbage, electricity, and natural gas. This experiment also spanned the height of summer and the beginning of fall. This was beneficial because it captured the heat of summer as well as the cooling temperatures in the autumn evenings. The last reason we did four months was that I finally got around to doing it. The plan was going to collect data for only three months, but time got away from me.
After four months of simply paying bills, I was ready to investigate my finding and adjust our budget to our new living conditions. The picture above is my extremely high tech, state-of-the-art budget analysis tool. As you can see, the largest jump in cost is our fuel consumption. This makes complete sense because I travel about 25 minutes each way to get to work. Often, I run into traffic which lowers my fuel economy. Until I grow wings and fly to work, this is an inevitable expense. Luckily gas prices in Idaho are cheaper than Oregon, but I’m still burning a lot more fuel. This will also add more car repairs and maintenance to our vehicles with tires, oil changes, and service milestones.
Our electricity is also more expensive in Boise but there is a logical explanation for that difference. In Oregon, we had solar panels on our roof that kept our electricity costs very low. We did have to lease the solar panels which cost $26 a month. By adding both of those costs together, we get close to the cost of electricity in Idaho. I also think we forgot to pay our electricity bill the first month so I’m going to watch this bill and see if we can get a more consistent number.
Now that our budgets accurately reflect our real costs in our new house, we are ready to settle into a financial routine of paying our bills and adding to our savings goals.