Last week I covered some of the things I’ve learned over the past decade, and a bit, of frugal living where it comes to staying warm. Staying warm when you’re on a tight budget is tough, sometimes almost impossible, but where there’s a will, and some prior planning, there is a way.
We left out topic last time with the importance of warm feet. But what else is there to cover? Well last week was all about keeping warm, and some of this week will be too. But all too often I found myself just having to cope with being cold, and that’s a totally different kettle of fish, so…
1. Get enough sleep.
When I was always cold, I was always tempted to climb into bed in the afternoon to hide from everything. The problem with this was that I then slept very badly at night, and felt constantly tired. This then had a knock on effect on my sense of well-being (such as I ever experience). If you feel tired/generally crap you will almost certainly feel even colder, which may make you want to hide under a duvet even more during the day, and thus a vicious circle is born. I can not put this strongly enough, don’t let this happen. The difference a solid nights sleep can make to your sense of well-being even when your cold is difficult to overstate. Of course this does mean you need to sleep well at night.
2. Love your electric blanket.
Nothing is worse than lying in your bed, buried under a duvet, and shivering. No, actually one thing is worse, having feet so cold that they hurt while your shiver in bed. For around five years of my twenties that was my Winter night-time experience. I would go to bed hot water bottle in hand, so tired my eyes just would not stay open. Get into my comfy, snuggley bed, and spend hours almost in tears from the pain in my feet. Move the hot water bottle to my feet and the rest of my body would get cold, and I’d start to shake.
I wish I’d known then just how big a difference an electric blanket would have made to my life. They can be expensive to buy, 100 euro’sish for a good double one, but they’re cheap as chips to run, and the difference getting into a piping hot bed will make to your nights sleep is simply impossible to state. And a rested body, is much better able to cope with the cold.
3. Never waste heat.
By this I mean, if you just cooked dinner in the oven, leave the oven door open as it cools so that heat gets a chance to warm you. Tumble drier just stopped? Leave it open so the extra heat can warm that room even a tiny fraction. Simples.
4. If you’re cold, wear a hat.
Back when I was a lot younger I was a hillwalker, and one of the many things I learned during that time was that if I was cold, wear a hat. The idea that you lose 20% of your heat through your head is a myth which came about because of a badly worded statement, but that said you will benefit hugely from insulating your head. Hats can be bought very cheaply, and on even the coldest day if you can make your head warm, you’re going to feel pretty much immediately better about everything. which leads me to…
5. Being cold makes you angry.
It really does. It’s makes you pissed as all Hell. You will be snappy, crabby, grouchy, and you will take it out on whoever is near you. And never forget that while the emotions are being caused by your bodies reaction to the cold, those emotions are still very real, and so are the repercussions. I strongly suggest having a small stash of chocolate, red wine, basically whatever your nearest and dearest likes the most to use as a peace offering if you blow up for no reason.
How does that fit into the thrifty lifestyle?
It’s a hell of a lot cheaper than a divorce.
6. Buy fuel over the Summer.
A lot of what I’ve written so far works on the assumption that you have no workable heating source. But many people have just one room they can keep warm, often, in Ireland at least, the living room and with an open fire. This is perfectly viable, and can be run if not cheaply, at least economically. I speak as someone in this precise situation, and as such I have to admit that I am guilty of a cardinal sin here. I tend to stop buying fuel for the fire over the Summer, and this is a big mistake. Buy less fuel, yes. But do keep buying a little each week, build up a stockpile of logs, briquettes, and coal for the Winter. Have a backlog that means if we’re unlucky enough to have a snowy Winter again, you can afford to keep the one room toasty. A little expense spread over a lot of time, is much more affordable than a lot of expense that hits you from nowhere.
7. Have a coping mechanism in place for when you get down.
Being cold is depressing, monumentally so in fact. Very little can bring you crashing down in the same way. I couldn’t begin to tell you haw many days I spent in floods of tears, so depressed I couldn’t even get out of bed. All caused by living with cold. And I LIKE the cold! For someone who doesn’t it’s nothing short of torture. So it’s essential to have someway of bringing your mood back up when it crashes in that way. My own at the time was an old Playstation 1 and SoulBlade. A game that would always bring me back up no matter how bad I felt. For other people it might be music, a book, a movie. But whatever it is to cope with being cold find it, and use it.
This should be a no-brainer, but anyway. When you live somewhere cold exercise is even more important. It will make you feel warm, it will help your body to set itself up to cope with the cold better. You will make your body more efficient, you’ll use your food better. You’ll sleep better, and the endorphin rush from exercising will all help you to cope better.
Oh, and you’ll live longer.
9. Finally. If you can, move.
Unfortunately there’s not really much you can do to lessen the financial hit of moving home. But if you’re that cold. If your life is a story of moving from warm spot to warm spot, through a freezing apartment/house, and if you can. Then get out of there. Leave. Being that cold for that long will cause long term problems, and most of them will be psychological. I, for example, start to get panicky when the fire starts to burn low. I used to be friends with someone who having lived in a similar situation was unable to sleep without two duvets (spelling?) on the bed, even if it wasn’t cold. She just had to have the security of knowing it was under her, and that she could nip underneath it if she needed.
Sometimes you can’t move. Finances, work, just life in general will get in the way. But you can always plan, and prepare to move. You can start looking around for a place to live, price accommodation in the area. Organise your possessions. Because if you’re that cold, I would be stunned if you didn’t want to move, and you never know when a windfall will allow you to escape to somewhere warmer. And when you do…well it’ll never be cheap, but I have a few hints for moving home on a budget. Watch out for that in the future.
In the meantime, stay warm, stay safe, Winter is almost over, and have a watch/listen to this and cheer yourself up.