One of my financial strategies of late is to put as many recurring bills as possible on the budget plan. That way, I won’t be hit with big bills, like car insurance or fuel oil payments, every few months, requiring me to come up with a large block of cash. For example, at the end of May, I locked in my oil price for the winter at $3.799/gallon. Actually, I contracted for a price cap, meaning the highest price I will pay, per gallon, for oil from now until May 2009 is the aforementioned amount. If the price goes down, I will pay the cheaper price; if the price increases to more than $3.799/gallon, I will not be charged the higher price point. After I signed the contract, I was concerned that I had negotiated too high a price. Then my good friend, Koalagirl15, called me to say that the going fuel oil price for a “lock in” contract with her oil company was $5.499/gallon! I am so happy I bought early.
Fortunately for me, I only need to heat my house. Here in Connecticut, many homeowners use fuel oil to heat their hot water as well. Translation: they are required to purchase fuel oil all year long. Sadly, many of my friends are in this position. Now, I don’t know how many gallons of oil they use per month, but I can tell you that I use ~600 gallons of fuel oil just to heat my home every winter. At $3.799/gallon, my cost this coming winter will be $2279.40; at $5.499/gallon, it would be $2749.50 (and my house is only 900 square feet). For my friends who live in 3000-square-foot houses, their fuel oil cost this winter, just for heat, could be in the neighborhood of $5000.00...or more. Frightening!
So, what have you done to plan for heat this winter?
Inspired by a little-known picture book from the pen of Bethany Tudor, this is a diary, of sorts, where I document some of my thoughts, activities, and ideas as I explore the challenges met by the characters in the story: hard work, the care and nurture of others, housekeeping skills, life changes, charity, community, and cooperation, among others. Like Samuel and Samantha, the ducks in the tale, I struggle and succeed, cope and celebrate, work and play, handling the tasks that come my way. I invite you to join me on my journey.