How We Save Money With Slight Discomfort

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This summer, we’re finding simple ways to save money by experiencing slight discomfort in some areas. We had such a bitterly cold winter that, by the time the summer came, we were ready to welcome heat and humidity with open arms, regardless of its extremity.

Tolerating a little heat is proving to save us money.

Our short morning commute to work makes it easy to just roll the windows down instead of pushing the AC button. We even get lucky most of the evenings and roll them down when the humidity is bearable on the way back home. It’s a slight discomfort that builds our bodies’ heat tolerance and pays off beautifully in savings.

This also works out well for us since we’re planning to move to an area with warm weather all year round, after reaching financial independence, and are giving our bodies a taste of what that might feel like by keeping our temperature environment slightly uncomfortable. At least, this is what we remind ourselves when are a bit cranky. 🙂

True happiness and prioritization 

We prioritize our expenses according to what brings us true happiness and realize that a certain level of comfort can get pretty expensive.  However, by willing to feel a slight discomfort when it comes to our lifestyle, we are able to shave many years off having to hold a job and have the option to retire early. Maybe early retirement is not in your plans, but cutting the living from paycheck to paycheck nonsense and reaching financial independence sure sound appealing to us. And with that comes a perk: savings! There’s a correlation between saving more and being in slight discomfort. Who knew!

Slight discomfort is cheap

This is our first summer in our new place which has two floors. In our previous apartment, electricity was included and the landlord provided us with air conditioning. After moving, we kept our small AC window unit. Our apartment doesn’t have central air conditioning. On top of that, the landlord requires us to only have portable air conditioners, so that the window frames don’t get damaged. Thankfully, we managed to convince him to let us keep the one that we already have.

We were going to need to buy at least two portable AC units, one for our bedroom and a second one for the living room which is on the upper level. The portable units are in the range of $300 to $500 each. It drives us up the wall to pay that much considering that, after our early retirement from corporate America, we’ll need to sell them to move abroad.

Instead of blindly going with the flow and surrendering our hard earned cash, we decided to test our comfort zone and buy only the essentials. While people in other countries wear sweaters in the winter, Americans wear sweaters in the summer. Sweaters and shorts are a bad summer combination for us. So we ended up buying two window fans instead of two portable AC units. As of now, we’ve survived high humidity (up to 70%) and high temperatures (up to 95) with a slight discomfort, so we feel really good about the prospects of being able to survive the rest of the summer with our current setup. And… our July energy bill came to $53, weeeeeeepa! 

Our bedroom fan - some people find it hard to believe that we don't have an AC in our bedroom. Sometimes you just have to spread and feel the air!

Our bedroom fan unit. Some people find it hard to believe that we don’t have an AC in our bedroom. Sometimes you just have to spread out and feel the air!

We’ve been willing to feel slight discomfort in other areas as well to reach gigantic financial milestones. Four years ago, I gave up satellite TV and opted for Netflix only. I originally subscribed to watch the awards shows on the Spanish networks. It was a little tough at the beginning, but I realized that paying $828 a year ($69 a month) to watch a few award shows wasn’t worth it. According to the Multiply by 25 Rule, we would’ve needed to have $20,700 invested just to fund that luxury for life.

We now employ a cheaper alternative and go on YouTube to watch the performances, and Pitbull sounds just as good. It’s a slight discomfort that saves us life energy.

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Comfort is expensive

As we make financial progress in life, we start opting for a more comfortable lifestyle and are led to believe that we need all the stuff that marketers throw our way. It’s a vicious never-ending cycle.

I lived with my parents while growing up and did just fine without air conditioning. But I’m guilty of costly past behaviors as well. For example, why do we need to set the cooling temperature so cold that we need to reach for comforters in the middle of the night in the summer? Take off the comforter, stick with just the sheet and go commando to feel fresh.

Why do I need to spend over $25 on a fancy electric can opener, which would add cost to my monthly energy bill, when I can buy a manual one that would provide my fingers with a little exercise and last a lifetime for $5?

If we buy this…

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we’d pay less than what a fancy can opener would cost, and we won’t have to spend our money on additional exercising gear such as this robotic-looking thing…

hand-fitness-trainer

Ridiculous comfort is financial suicide

It can even get ridiculously worse with the stuff available out there. It feels that having money is synonymous with laziness. At some point we might be offered a remote control to operate our remote controls. 

Ridiculous comfort is financial suicide. Click To Tweet

“Have you ever wanted to make or receive a phone call underwater?” What?!? We barely use cell phones to talk but now we need an Underwater Cell Phone System! Really? Because we must use our phones while underwater. “I’m drowning, bloop bloop. Can you hear me now?” The development of these comfort technologies have created “artificial” needs that don’t even make us truly happy. 

While we keep finding more ways to ridiculously spend our money, under and above water…

203070087gx1Others don’t even have access to safe drinking water…

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And this trend doesn’t end with our personal comfort, it feels as if thirst for knowledge needs to cost money as well. Like we now need a Canine Genealogy Kit. Really?!

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Because now we need to know our dog family tree or last three ancestral generations. Well, let me save you some time and money: two adult dogs got together, had sex, just like your parents (possibly also doggie-style), and voila! A few puppies popped out and yours happens to be one of them. Your puppy came from another dog, who cares if it was Cooper, Tucker or Lucy!

Stay focused!

If you’re willing to feel a slight discomfort in some areas of your life, you’ll reach your financial goals a lot quicker. If we would have gotten air conditioners for most of our rooms to feel ridiculously comfortable, that energy bill would have been around $200-$300 for the month. The biggest expenses are usually in housing, food and transportation, so by cutting those we can live a happier life with just the right amount of comfort. 🙂

What slight discomfort have you felt lately and is it worth it for your true happiness goals?

 

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Mr. Enchumbao

I work for a large investment management company helping people save for traditional retirement. During my spare time, I help others save for financial independence and early retirement by writing for Enchumbao. My journey to FI began in 2012. I was in a lot of debt back then, but I turned things around and became debt free a few years later. My wife and I reached financial independence in 2017 and are preparing to retire by 2020.

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4 Responses

  1. Elizabeth Grahsl says:

    Love this post! This really hits home, especially the Multiply by 25 Rule. I think I read something similar on Mr Money Mustache awhile back which
    prompted me to write a post called “Convenience is the Enemy” recently
    on my blog. In addition, while it may be a cliche to be reminded of the “starving kids in Africa” to elicit guilt about waste, it’s a gut-wrenchingly real issue. I try to travel to the third world every few years at least in order to be reminded of how much I take for granted – and be inspired to give back.

    • Hi Elizabeth! The Mx25 Rule is an awesome guideline to figure how much you need. MMM has covered a lot of ground so I’m not surprised that he provides many of us with inspiration. I guess if Convenience is the Enemy than a slight inconvenience is your friend! I’m definitely going to read your post.
      Yes! Traveling and seeing poverty with your own eyes gives you a different perspective on things. We tend to visit the Dominican Republic a lot and every time I see a child selling fruits or services and trying to make a living, after school, reminds me of how fortunate we are and as you mentioned, it inspires you to give back. Thanks for dropping in!

  2. Ryan Lenz says:

    A useful rule–thank you for that! I am going to use the monthly version of it, which comes out to an easier number anyway (300x). Most rational people understand that an underwater cellphone is dumb. But how about more difficult decisions: how often you upgrade your computer? How much should you spend on travel? Haircuts?

    • Hi Ryan,
      Yes, it’s a great rule, no matter what multiples you use.
      I used the underwater cellphone comparison to stress the ridiculousness of what’s out there. Thanks for providing ideas for future articles. We’re definitely going to be doing more on travel spending/hacking. I spend $0 on haircuts, how about that???

      I noticed you’re a chemistry teacher. As long you don’t ask us to write about chemistry, we should be good! 🙂 Chem was my worst high school subject. Thanks for commenting!

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