How to afford your electric bill and still enjoy the summer.
By Hannah Wallace
Oy, this heat. All I want to do is crank the thermostat to 55 and hang around the house all day eating soup and drinking lemonade.
Alas, my electric bill is double what it was in January—and that’s with concerted attempts at conserving energy. And on top of that, all three hockey teams I play for are getting ready to start budget-mangling six-month seasons (and if you think our power bills are bad, the rink’s gotta fill warehouses with ice in 90-degrees and 100 percent humidity).
So I’m looking for ways to survive the summer without wrecking my credit rating. Here are a few things I’m doing to waste time while saving (or at least, not wasting) money:
I wouldn’t say I’m a compulsive shopper, but it does seem I’m wired to think that spending money is the best—perhaps the only—way to alleviate boredom. And a 92-degree Saturday sure inspires you to spend a day in someone else’s air conditioning trying on tank tops. Fortunately, if you play your cards right, you can waste a whole day at Ross and Goodwill and only spend $8.43.
Air ‘em out
I get…frustrated…with my clothes dryer. Probably clothes dryers everywhere. They just look like slackers, spending all that time and energy on what seems to be such a simple process. Frankly, I think getting the sweat out of my socks is the harder job, but you don’t see the washing machine taking an hour, racking up the FPL bill all, “Not done quiiiiiite yet, gimme another 20, would ya? Now be a good girl and go get me some Snuggle.” But those dryers, so demanding. So our dryer’s on probation—we strung a clothesline in our garage, which handles most of the laundry surprisingly well (and surprisingly quickly). We’ll let the dryer try some socks here and there, but if it insists on spending an hour getting three pairs juuuuuust right, well, its new job is going to be “storage container.”
Fried Spam is gooood. Shut up, I don’t care. If cooked right, it’s like meaty, crispy bacon—under-valued and under-priced. Years ago, my father was off doing some production somewhere, and, left to his own culinary devices, he threw together a pasta “salad” of ziti, fried spam cut into squares, Cajun chicken (breast meat cut up into bites and doused with Tony Chachere’s seasoning), broccoli and cauliflower. Top it with parmesan and some Italian dressing, and it feels like a grown-up meal for very little money and effort. Plus: It reheats crazy-well and makes an awesome office lunch.
Obviously not everybody’s got this option, but my company-supplied gym membership solves a number of problems, including 1) it’s too hot to exercise outside; 2) it’s too expensive to eat lunch out; 3) I’m too damp not to take a shower in the middle of the workday. Yeah, I am, as they say, a dewy lass, so instead of fighting my god-given moistness, I go to the downtown Y on my lunch break and embrace the perspiration. Then I can shower, return to work clean and refreshed, and eat my Spam.
Other free things
Thursday was our Charity Register launch party—thanks to my job of compiling the 200 or so listings, it’s the only magazine event where I feel like I’ve earned my mini-quiche and open bar—and Friday’s the UnParty, which, oh so awesomely, I’m again attending courtesy of Mattison’s (Paul Mattison is my pretend-land non-romantic boyfriend). Don a little Ross tank top and the $300 skirt I got for $35 at L. Boutique’s crazy sale, and the drinks and eats are handled by Super Paul. There’s a hot Friday night all taken care of.