Control your AWS costs

With the AWS Free Tier and AWS Budgets

In this tutorial you will learn how to control your costs while exploring AWS service offerings using the AWS Free Tier then using AWS Budgets to set up a cost budget to monitor any costs associated with your usage.

Whether you're looking for compute power, database storage, content delivery, or other functionality, AWS has the services to help you build sophisticated applications with increased flexibility, scalability and reliability. But how do you get started experimenting and building with AWS services while keeping your costs low or free?

The AWS Free Tier is a discount program that lets you gain free, hands-on experience with AWS products and services. All new AWS accounts include the Free Tier so you don't have to sign up for it, allowing you to try out the services you need to build your workloads from day 1. With over 80 services in the Free Tier, you can do lots of exploring at a reasonable cost, or even for free.

Monitoring your service usage and associated costs while you are exploring and scaling your usage of AWS is often cited as a top concern. To make sure you don't exceed the Free Tier usage thresholds and your overall budget, we recommend using AWS Budgets. AWS Budgets is cost control tool that allows you to create custom cost budgets that alert you when you exceed your budgeted threshold.

In the next few minutes, you will learn about the AWS Free Tier offering, discover how AWS Budgets monitors your Free Tier usage by default, and create a total monthly cost budget that alerts you when you exceed (or are forecasted to exceed) using AWS Budgets.

It is a best practice to create a total monthly cost budget for each AWS account you use. AWS Budgets has a Free Tier limit of 62 budget days per month, so creating a single budget falls within the AWS Free Tier limit. As the name implies, AWS Free Tier-eligible service usage is free.

About this Tutorial
Time 10 minutes                                           
Cost Free Tier Eligible
Use Case All
Products AWS Budgets, AWS Free Tier
Audience All
Level Beginner
Last Updated December 18, 2018

1. Explore the AWS Free Tier

In this step, you will explore the 3 types of offers in the Free Tier: Always free, 12 months free, and trials.

a. Access the Free Tier page

Open the Free Tier page, so you can keep this step-by-step guide open.

b. Explore 12 month free offers

On the AWS Free Tier page, under the AWS Free Tier Details header choose the 12 MONTHS FREE link.

These free tier offers are only available to new AWS customers, and are available for 12 months following your AWS sign-up date. When your 12 month free usage term expires or if your application use exceeds the tiers, you simply pay standard, pay-as-you-go service rates (see each service page for full pricing details).

Notable offers for the first 12 months following your AWS account sign-up include some level of free usage for Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS), Amazon S3, Amazon Relational Database Services (RDS), and many other useful services.

 

c. Explore Always Free offers

On the AWS Free Tier page, select the Always Free link to view the ALWAYS FREE offers. As the name suggest, these free tier offers do not automatically expire at the end of your 12 month AWS Free Tier term and are available to all AWS customers.

Notable Always Free offers include some level of free usage for AWS Lambda, AWS Storage Gateway, Amazon Dynamo DB, Amazon Glacier, Amazon CloudWatch, and many other useful services.

 

d. Explore trial offers

On the AWS Free Tier page, select the Trials link to view the Trials offers. Trial offers allow you to use a service for a specified period of time or number of operations.

Notable trial offers include Amazon SageMaker, Amazon GuardDuty, Amazon Redshift, and many other useful services.

 

2. Sign-up for AWS (or Sign-in)

There is no additional charge associated with using the AWS Billing Console for this tutorial. The resources you create in this tutorial are Free Tier eligible. The button and link to the right open a new tab so you can follow this tutorial in the AWS console.

Already have an account? Sign-in

3. Review your spend and Free Tier usage

In this step you will use the AWS Billing Console to review your overall AWS spend and Free Tier usage.

a. Access the billing dashboard

After you have logged in to your account, from the account menu choose My Billing Dashboard.

b. Review your billing dashboard

Once you reach the Billing & Cost Management Dashboard page, you can view a summary of your month-to-date costs in the Spend Summary section, as well as a service-based breakdown in the Month-to-Date Spend by Service section.

c. Analyze top free tier service usage

To see an overview of what part of your usage falls into the Free Tier, examine the Top Free Tier Services by Usage pane. This pane highlights the highest percentage of month-to-date usage against Free Tier limits categorized by service.

The screenshot to the right highlights Amazon S3 usage. This can be used as an example of how to use this information to analyze your usage.

The Free Tier usage limit column outlines the Free Tier discount. In this example, the Free Tier gives you the first 2,000 S3 Put Requests for free.

The Month-to-date usage column shows the percentage of the Free Tier benefit you have used this month. In this example, exactly 2,000 Put Requests to S3 have been made (100% of the Free Tier limit), which means any additional usage in excess of this limit will be billed at normal AWS prices.

 

d. Access all your Free Tier usage

To dive deeper into your Free Tier-eligible usage, choose the View all button in the top right corner of the Top Free Tier Service by Usage widget.

e. Analyze all your Free Tier usage

On the All Free Tier services by usage page, all of your usage for all services in the Free Tier are listed. In addition to your month-to-date actual usage, how much service usage you are forecasted to have by the end of the month is detailed in the Month-end forecasted usage column.

In the example in the screenshot to the right, note that your forecasted usage of S3 Put requests is 6,000. Exceeding the limit of the Free Tier generally results in a billable charge.

f. Modify your AWS Free Tier Usage Limit email alerts

By default, most accounts are automatically opted in to receiving AWS Free Tier Usage Limit email alerts when their service usage exceeds 85% of a given Free Tier usage limit.

To change who gets these email alerts, choose Preferences from the left navigation bar.

To opt other people in to receiving Free Tier Usage Alerts, in the Email Address field add their email address and choose Save preferences.

4. Set up a cost budget

In this step you will set up a cost budget in the AWS Billing Console using AWS Budgets. As part of your cost budget, you will set up three notifications: one for if your costs reach 50% of your budget, one for if your costs are forecasted to exceed your budget, and one if your costs do exceed your budget.

a. Create budget

From the navigation menu on the left, select Budgets then choose Create budget. On the Create budget page, choose Cost as the Budget Type.

b. Set budget details

On the Set budget details page, edit the Name field to read MyMonthlyBudget. For Period and Start date keep the default values. Specify your Budgeted Amount.

In the Budget parameters section, you can use these features to create budgets that track costs associated with a particular set of AWS services, linked accounts, tags, or other usage dimensions. For this tutorial, keep these values as the default.

c. Configure alert for when actual cost exceeds 50% of budget threshold

Scroll down to the Notifications (optional) section. In this section, you can have AWS Budgets contact you and others via email when budget conditions are met.

Configure the notification to fire when actual costs are greater than 50% of budgeted amount as pictured in the screen shot to the right. Add your email address and the email address of anyone who should receive this notification in the Email contacts field. Then select Add new notification.

d. Configure alert for when forecasted cost exceeds your budget

Configure this notification to fire when forecasted costs are greater than 100% of the budgeted amount as pictured in the screenshot to the right. Add your email address and the email address of anyone who should receive this notification in the Email contacts field. Then select the Add new notification.

e. Configure alert for when actual costs exceeds your budget

Configure this notification to notify you when actual costs are greater than 100% of budgeted amount. Add your email address and the email address of anyone who should receive this notification in the Email contacts field. Then select the Create button to create the budget and notifications.

f. Review your new budget

After the budget has been created, you see a list AWS Budgets you have created. It is a best practice to create a total monthly cost budget for each AWS account that you use.

You can create up to 62 budget days per month using the AWS Budgets service within the Free Tier limit. After that, you simply pay as you go to create additional budgets.

g. Inspect your new budget

To dive deeper into your budget details, click on your new budget. From there, you can view your budget details, access a budget performance summary, and inspect your historical budget performance.

Congratulations

You have successfully analyzed your Free Tier usage and have created a total monthly cost budget using AWS Budgets.

The AWS Billing Console allows you to access a number of tools to help you better understand your costs and usage, including the Top Free Tier Services by Usage widget and AWS Budgets.

The AWS Free Tier enables you to gain free, hands-on experience with the AWS platform, products, and services.

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