'My monthly AWS bill is shockingly high!'

'What's that extra ~$1,000 on my AWS bill?'

These questions pop up everywhere on social media at the end of each month. AWS users consistently feel surprised by the end of the month charges. You subscribe to AWS thinking it will be cost-effective and efficient. You can now work on other tasks and let AWS do its job. Not quite.

Let's say, you use the free tier AWS services and think that you can control the costs. You use it minimally, a few instances here and there, maybe some large file transfers and you end up with an alarming bill. Let's see why this happens.

Very rarely, it can be an erroneous charge. In which case, AWS has great support - just like its parent company Amazon.com - and will simply issue a refund.

Other times, it is because although you were using a "free-tier" service, those have a limited number of hours. Some users' usage starts to increase and they share the free tier hours among multiple resources. They exceed the free tier limits, without realizing it.

Occasionally, it can be because your IAM credentials are compromised, and someone is using your account to mine bitcoin or to send spam emails. Make sure you don't have any surprises and check your resources and instances in all regions. Being unfamiliar with the region setting in the AWS console is a common mistake plenty of new AWS users make.

Whatever your case may be, know that you are not alone in receiving an unexpectedly high bill. Other smart people blow through their AWS budgets all the time.

The crux of the problem lies in the fact that understanding and monitoring AWS services is not easy. It is a complex web of charges, instances, workloads, and hour limits. It's challenging to keep track of the AWS bills every month. Managers realize that managing and monitoring AWS billing on their own requires a lot of resources and energy. If you don't keep track of it, however, your AWS bill spirals out of control.

Monitoring and analyzing the AWS services is critical to keeping your bill low, frugal readers. Monitoring your bill ends up taking up a lot of time. You can get used to doing it quickly by going to AWS billing and scanning for anything that looks out of the ordinary. If you do it frequently enough, you get used to skimming it quickly.

Instead of being shocked at the end of the month of your AWS bill, it is better to keep an eye on it regularly. You can receive alerts and emails to inform you without having to log in to your AWS account every day, maneuvering through the dashboard graphs and calculating the cost. Not only does it take a lot of time to do regularly, but also is puzzling for a non-technical person.

You can and should sign up for bill monitoring software. There are many AWS monitoring solutions that help in monitoring the bill on a daily or weekly basis. It's better to choose something that sends you a summary of the last day's usage right into your inbox. If you are busy, you can skip a day or two. You can go back to looking at it when you're ready.

It is better to choose a product that does not charge in advance or ask for credit card information.