How to set up a Billing Alert for your AWS Lightsail WordPress Website

What are Billing Alerts and why you should use them

Billing Alerts are a process that you can set up where AWS will contact you and let you know if your budget is about to be exceeded for your WordPress Website. Why would you want this? In case you are now aware, AWS bills you for what you use rather than what what you intend to use. With this in mind if there is a runaway process spending money on your site that you did not intend, or realise, you will want to know about it before it becomes really expensive! 

When you set up a Billing Alert, you instruct AWS to send you a notification and tell you how much money you are spending on your WordPress Website based on whatever settings you set. Billing Alerts allow you to potentially see an before it becomes a problem and ultimately will save you money. A Billing Alert takes from 5 to 10 minutes to setup so they are quick, easy and quite useful. 

Setup a Billing Alert

To set up a Billing alert you need to go to your AWS Console. This is not the same as your AWS Lightsail Console in case there is any confusion. Your AWS Console is where you manage your entire AWS setup while your AWS Lightsail Console is where you manage your Lightsail WordPress Website. 

Ok so once you have opened the  AWS Console, which presently looks like this:

You want to click on “Billing” and this will open the “Billing & Cost Management Dashboard”. Next you want to click on “Budgets:

and then “Create budget”:

Choose your Budget

Now you need to decide on what kind of budget you want to create. You have a choice of:

  • Cost Budget
  • Usage Budget
  • Reservation Budget
  • Saves Plan Budget

For the purposes of this article I am going to focus on the first choice which is a Cost Budget. Select this (it should be selected by default but just in case!) and click “Set your Budget”.

In the next view you need to give your budget a name, which can be anything you want and a timeframe (called a period) for the budget to apply to. I would recommend a monthly period though this is up to you as it depends on exactly what you want from this Cost Budget:

Recurring or Monthly Budget

You can then decide if you want this to be a recurring budget or an expiring budget, which basically means does the budget apply over and over again based on the period you selected. Or is it a one use budget that expires. You need to select a “Start Month” for both options however an expiring budget will also need an “End Month” selected.

How much to spend for your Budget

Now you are going to specify your monthly budget. The easiest way to complete this is to choose Fixed and set a Budgeted amount that you are happy to spend inside the Budget period. For example I have set this Budgeted Amount to $20:

You do have another option and that is to select a Monthly Budget Planning which is where you would decide in advance what you want each month’s budget to be. 

Once you have made your decision on whether to go with Fixed or Monthly Planning and input your budget prices, scroll down to the end and click “Configure thresholds”. 

Define your Budget Threshold

On the next view you will Define your budget threshold. This is the value that AWS will use, based on whether you set it as Actual Cost or Forecasted Cost, to notify you when your threshold is achieved. 

To complete this you have two options. You can set an Actual Cost or a Forecasted Cost. Actual Cost is exactly what it says it is, it is the exact cost that AWS will charge you. Forecasted is more like what AWS believes it will charge you. 

I would suggest that you set your Budget to Forecasted Costs. From my experience this is a good setup if you want to keep your costs down as you can view what AWS thinks your website’s performance will be based on historic data a few weeks in advance. This will allow you to tweak, or even completely remove, a process or maybe a plugin that is eating up your system resources and ultimately costing you money. 

For the Alert Threshold itself, you can set this to a % of the budgeted amount for which I would recommend something like 85%. The reason for this is that it still leaves you enough budget, generally speaking, to investigate any spending spikes that are occurring and take any actions required.  

With this setup AWS will contact you when your monthly spend Forecast is 85% of your Monthly budget ($20) which is $17.00 or more.

Budget Notifications

Next you want to set your Notifications. This is how AWS will contact you when your Budget spend is, going by our example above, forecasted to be $17.00 or more. The easiest setup here is to input an email address into the Email recipients section:

You can add up to 10 email addresses to this box (comma separated) and the email addresses do not have to be associated with your AWS account login.

Once this is all completed click on “Confirm Budget” in the bottom right and you are done. You have now completed a Monthly Budget for your AWS Lightsail WordPress Website and you have set up a notification for when your budget spend is approaching your maximum. 

Budget Bonus Tip

As a final bonus tip you can edit any budget you have created at any time by going to the Budgets section in the Billing view in your AWS Console. Just click on the Budget name to edit and make whatever changes you need.

Thank you for reading this guide and I hope you find it useful.

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