Apr 29 2008

How to stay cool without air conditioning


Yesterday, Be Thrifty Like Us shared tips on how to save money on your air conditioning.

I’d like to expand that, and share some things I’ve done in the past to stay cool without air conditioning.

For a few years, my family lived in a two-bedroom, 524-square-foot apartment. It was supertiny, but the layout was quite efficient and honestly, it didn’t feel that bad. It helped that my sister and I were constantly playing outside. Also, it helped that many of our belongings were in a storage unit while we were building a house.

Anyway, the tiny apartment didn’t have air conditioning. If you’ve lived through a summer in Indiana, you know it can get quite hot and ridiculously humid. I remember one particularly muggy night when it was 99 degrees at midnight. Yeah. Try to sleep when it’s that hot. Whatever.

If you don’t have an air conditioner, or yours breaks this summer, I’d like to share a few things we did to stay cool.

–Get a few portable fans! Box fans and fans that rotate can really help the cause. Of course, keep them away from tiny fingers.

–At night, when it’s cooler outside but still pretty warm inside, take a box fan and put it facing outward in a window in your living room. Turn it on, blowing air to the outside. Essentially, it’s a crude exhaust fan. Shut all windows in your living room, just allowing one window to be open around your box fan. Open your windows in your bedroom, and you should feel a nice breeze blowing into your house from the outside.

–Drink lots of ice-cold water. Hydration is important, and the cold water will cool you down.

–Run cold water along your wrists to instantly cool you down. Take off your shoes and go into your bathroom. Plug the drain, and turn the shower on cold. Sit on the edge of the tub with your feet (at least up to your ankles) in the water. You’ll feel much cooler, plus the cold shower will help cool off the air around you. I realize this can use a bit of water. Maybe collect some of the water in buckets to use in your washing machine or to water your plants to minimize waste.

–Don’t use the oven or stove on particularly hot days. Use your microwave or a crockpot if you want heated foods, but your best bet is probably to grill outside or eat cold foods.

–Sara shared this tip to help with your AC, but it’s also good when you don’t have one at all. Cover your windows with thick blankets/towels to keep the sunlight out during the hot afternoons. Put the blankets up before the heat of the day really sets in.

–When it’s insanely, miserably hot, get out of your house! Go to the pool, the library, the mall–somewhere that has air conditioning or that’s cooler than your own house.

Apr 28 2008

Hey recent grads: I want to tell you something


My husband and I graduated from college last May. It’s amazing that almost a year has passed since then! A ton of changes have happened to us since then–getting married, moving 400 miles from home, starting new jobs, etc. (and that’s a big etc.!).

I didn’t actually attend commencement.

I remember not wanting to pay the $60 or whatever to rent a graduation gown. I was unimpressed with the choice of commencement speaker. The kicker: Nobody would announce my name to the masses, and I would not walk across a stage in front of my family. I guess you’ll have that when you go to a large state school.

Anyway, it didn’t sound like a good use of my day, and I didn’t really want to put my family through sitting through a boring ceremony. I don’t regret not attending.

So. If there are any soon-to-be college grads reading this blog, I’d like to tell you a few things.

1. I’m really sorry about the timing of your graduation and the state of the economy. If you haven’t already found a job, it can be tough finding something suitable. Don’t settle for a career-type job doing something that you hate. If you do, you could be stuck there for awhile. Your life shouldn’t be spent in misery.

Instead, if you don’t yet have a job lined up, talk with your folks and see if they’d be open to you living with them while you job-searched. Work part-time somewhere to have some money coming in, and be sure to pay for your own food and kick back some money to cover some “rent.” Remember, this is a temporary situation, but it could help you avoid settling on a terrible job and/or going into mounds of debt while you job-search in your own apartment. On the surface, it could look like you’re wimping out, but really, it could save you a lot of hassle.

2. Once you’re hired somewhere, don’t spend your first paycheck before you get it. Don’t try to buy a new car just yet, and don’t move into the fanciest apartment you can find. Live cheaply for at least your first few months out of college, and I promise you won’t regret it.

3. While you’re bringing in a better salary, be aggressive and save an emergency fund and pay off all of your credit cards and tackle your student loans. These debts need paid, and it’s better to just get them out of the way as soon as possible and move on with your life. Definitely budget your money, and don’t allocate more than 25 percent of your take-home pay to your rent. Seriously.

4. Along with your debt-repayment and saving-money aggression, start throwing a large portion of your paycheck into a retirement account. You probably won’t miss the money at this stage, and thanks to compound interest, you could have quite a bit saved at retirement. Time is on your side. Exploit it.

5. If you’re moving to a new city, realize that it could take you 6 months to a year to get to know your way around. I’ve been in Pittsburgh for 11 months now, and I still regularly use my GPS around “tahn.” Pittsburgh is semi-big and really confusing.

Just keep in mind that for the first time in like 17 years of your life, you’re no longer a student. You’re going through a huge transition. You might feel lonely, especially if your friends become scattered across the country. Keep in touch with them, and also seek to make new friends in your new environment. Many of my college friends have said meeting people after graduation has been really tough. When we’re in school, we have a built-in social network. After graduation, you’ll meet people at all stages of life, who may or may not be looking for friends.

6. You’ll probably hear all sorts of advice right now. Feel free to ignore it–after all, you’re a grown-up and can make your own decisions. But remember, it’s much easier to learn from other’s mistakes than to waste time making them yourself.

Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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