Winter is Coming

When it’s hot, there’s really only so much you can do about it. For example, you can only remove so many articles of clothing before your roommates start to look at you weird or start thinking about asking you to leave. Beyond a certain temperature, even with fan use, it becomes quite uncomfortable without turning on some A/C.

On the other hand, there are many ways to stay warm. One of these ways, often neglected by people who otherwise appear very sane, is clothing. When I get cold, I put some more clothes on. This typically does the trick! It is, in fact, very possible to remain quite warm and comfortable even in really cold conditions.

Learning to be contented

In some ways they had come to know themselves better. In this lonely world of ice and emptiness, they
had achieved at least a limited kind of contentment. They had been tested and found not wanting.

–Alfred Lansing, in the book Endurance, describing a group of men stranded on a floating mass of ice in the Antarctic with virtually no hope of rescue.

The quote above, from a very good (audio)book I listened to a couple years ago, is pretty mind blowing in a few ways. First, it shows that we really need very little to be happy–apparently not even the hope of survival! More relevant to this post though, it was pretty cold where they were. But even 100 years ago people were pretty good at staying warm even in temperatures well below freezing. It also shows us that you can pretty much get used to almost any situation and still be happy.

Some practical advice

Ok, before you start thinking I’m suggesting living outside in a tent all winter, let’s talk about what this means practically. In the house of Joe(y)1and the Third Roommate Who Shall Not Be Named, we do not turn on the heat in the winter. I’m not suggesting you do this–I’ll have more suggestions for YOU in a bit–I’m just sharing some experience. The coldest it ever gets in the apartment is upper 50s, and for most of the winter it’s in the low 60s. Of course, my room for some unknown reason feels a good 5-10 degrees colder than the rest of the apartment. Lucky me. These temperatures are pretty mild though. Living in an apartment helps, and so does having south-facing windows that let the sunlight in during most of the day. Assuming you can’t immediately change those things, here are a few small things that make a huge difference.

First, obviously, clothing. This is usually not an issue as I’m already dressed warmly for the day whenever I come back home. If I want to get into something more comfortable, I’ll opt for sweatpants and a long sleeve shirt. Sometimes a sweatshirt is necessary, but usually just long sleeve is sufficient.

Now we talk about luxury. When I get home, I like to remove my shoes and socks. There’s something nice about giving your feet some air in the evening. Unfortunately, they can get cold. To combat this and still remain extremely (if not more) comfortable, I have a pair of super cheap slippers from Amazon (apparently no longer available, but the women’s version still is)2I don’t think they’re actually gender specific…. They are very warm, so much so that I usually have to slip out of them every so often so my feet don’t overheat! And, obviously, very soft and comfy.

The other issue is staying warm when sleeping. For this, I bought this extremely warm comforter. It looks like the price has gone up a bit in the past two years, but there are slightly cheaper but still well reviewed alternatives available. The comforter keeps me warm even when sleeping in a t-shirt and shorts down to 60 degrees or even colder. In fact, when it’s above about 65 degrees it becomes overkill and I opt for something lighter. If it’s even colder than that, I’ll just sleep in the aforementioned sweat pants and long sleeve and I’ve never been cold when I do that.

But what about getting out of the shower?!

This is a question I’ve gotten before. As if one moment of being slightly uncomfortable would be the worst thing ever! When I shower, I bring in my clothes and close the door. The warm shower creates a sort of sauna that persists for a few minutes post-shower, during which I get into my warm clothes and avoid being cold.

Do I ever get cold or feel uncomfortable? Yes! It is winter after all–some cold is in order. But by implementing the above strategies this becomes a somewhat rare occurrence. And of course, the hundreds of dollars per year in electricity bills savings compound into thousands and then tens of thousands etc, etc.

Take home points

Do you really need to never use heat in order to become financially independent? Of course not! But the astute reader will realize this is about more than just the hundreds per year you’ll save. This is about attitude. Learning to embrace a little discomfort here and there will greatly increase your ability to accumulate wealth. Additionally, regularly challenging yourself and forcing yourself outside of your comfort zone is a life-enhancing practice. Simply seeking comfort in every situation will result in a pretty dull and probably not very successful life.

So what should you do? I’m not going to suggest going completely without the heat right off the bat3And if you don’t have the insulation of hundreds of other apartments you may damage/freeze pipes, etc. . After all, I don’t really think you’re tough enough for that ;). Instead, turn the thermostat a couple degrees below what you’re used to and leave it there. Bundle up in some warm clothes or invest in a comforter and some slippers. Embrace the challenge. It’ll make the short days and leafless trees seem a little less dull.

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