Frugal New Year’s Resolutions for 2014

Photo Credit: Toni Girl via Flickr

Photo Credit: Toni Girl via Flickr

Will 2014 be your most frugal year yet? Most people who make a list of New Year’s resolutions will include at least one item related to spending, saving or sharing their money. Whether you are preparing to take on a daunting list or you haven’t even given a thought to New Year’s resolutions, why not make a frugal goal for the coming year. Here are twelve ideas to get you off to a good start in 2014:

  1. Cut a Bad Spending Habit: We all have bad spending habits and they can really add up. Whether you buy clearance clothes because they are a bargain but you never actually wear them or you over-indulge in pre-packaged foods, this is a good time to identify and begin cutting your bad habit. Learn a little more about yourself by tracking your spending for a few months. This will help you see your spending habits, both the good and the bad, and help you set goals for this year.
  2. Organize Your Financial Life: Take some time this year to organize your financial life. Whether you decide to create and maintain a budget, download a finance app to help you stay on track or begin logging all of your expenditures into a spreadsheet, keeping your finances organized and up-to-date can save you a lot of stress and anxiety.
  3. Increase Your Charitable Giving: Often times charitable giving ends up being the last thing on the list when money comes in. Why not begin making it a priority? If you are more of a spontaneous giver, why not begin making your giving more consistent? Need help choosing a charity? Check out this article.
  4. Build a Savings Plan: If you don’t have a savings account, you might start saving money (even $20/month) for an emergency fund. If you already save, you might consider creating a plan that involves short-, mid- and long-range saving goals including retirement and emergency savings.
  5. Live Within Your Means: Challenge yourself to actually live within your means this year by being intentional about only spending what you are earning.
  6. Borrow Less: Do you struggle with credit card debt? This year you could create a plan to eliminate your credit card debt and begin paying your credit card bills on time. Do you have a lot of student loans? Make a plan so can borrow less this year by reducing your expenses or finding other sources of financial aid.
  7. Declutter Your Home: Begin 2013 by decluttering your home, especially your closet and your pantry. Keep an eye out for items that you can reuse or give away. Make a commitment to use up what you have.
  8. Reduce Your Monthly Expenses: Are you using all of your cable package? Could you cut your grocery expenses by eating frugally and using coupons? Could you lower the temperature in your apartment or turn off a few more lights? Reducing your expenses, even by a few dollars a month, can save you a lot of money.
  9. Start Saving for Pleasure: Have you been dreaming about buying a new car, computer, decor item or even going on vacation? Start saving for this item now by setting aside a little money each month. Make a do-able plan to help you reach your goal, so you can decrease or even eliminate having to buy on credit.
  10. Be A Patient Spender: We all know how easy it is to buy things on impulse whether it is a candy bar, clothing or electronics. Big or small, those impulse buys can add up. Try to curb your addiction to impulse spending by waiting 24 hours for items under $50 and 30 days for items over $50. If possible, wait for sales.
  11. Align your sharing, saving, and spending with your values: Take some time in this new year to consider your values. Then analyze your saving, spending and sharing of money to be sure it aligns with your values. Make goals for 2014 to increase this alignment.
  12. Be More Thankful: Living on a student’s budget, it can be easy to think more about what you don’t have than what you do have. Take time this year to be thankful for all of the things that you do have–tangible and intangible.

Join the Conversation: What’s your frugal New Year’s Resolution for 2014?

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How to Give Frugal Holiday Gifts without Looking Cheap

christmas gifts

Flickr Image by Mackenzie

Remember how exciting Christmas used to be as a kid? You would wake up early, sit under the Christmas tree in your pajamas, maybe read the Christmas story, and then tear open your presents. But, as you grow up, Christmas becomes more stressful than fun, especially when you are on a tight budget. It can be hard to find a good gift that is inexpensive, but not cheap!

I’m not a stranger to cheap gifts. One Christmas my brother and I received calendars that were from the previous year! Another Christmas, a friend of mine received a set of hotel toiletry items! Maybe you’ve experienced a similar situation. Have you ever received a gift that has clearly been used—a half eaten box of chocolates, tarnished jewelry, used makeup, even used undergarments? What about a gift that was clearly free—promotional pens, rebate drug store items, even happy meal toys?

While we can all laugh looking back at these gifts and tell ourselves that we would never do something like this, it’s hard to be frugal at Christmas. We want give something special to all of the important people in our lives but we feel caught between racking up the credit card debt and resorting to the sort of cheap gifts listed above. I think the difference between cheap and frugal gifts comes down to the heart of the gift. Are you giving for the sake of giving a gift? Or, are you giving for the sake of the person? If you have the receiver in mind, as you think about frugal gifts, you aren’t likely to go wrong.

Here are some ideas for heartfelt, inexpensive gifts:

  • Write from the Heart: Make or purchase a nice card and write the recipient a heartfelt note about why you appreciate having him/her in your life.
  • Frame It: Find a nice photo of the recipient and frame it. Or, gather some photos and postcards from his/her favorite destination and frame them. You could also frame the recipient’s favorite poem.
  • Thrifting: If you have a good idea of the recipient’s style head to the thrift store for some great frugal finds on clothing and accessories.
  • Fun Reading: Head to a used bookstore and find a few classic books that fit with the recipient’s interests. If the recipient prefers magazines, find some current editions of their favorite magazines for a little light reading over the holidays.
  • Homemade Items: Spread some Christmas cheer with homemade cookies, bars or candy. Try out some of these recipes! Use your creative skills to knit some mittens, make jewelry or write a song. Try your hand at some of these homemade gifts!
  • Gift Baskets: Create a personalized gift basket with some of their favorite items. Depending on the recipient’s interests, you might create a movie theater basket, spa basket, snack basket, grocery basket, the possibilities are endless!
  • Gift of Experience: Give the recipient tickets to an upcoming movie, museum, concert or event. You and the recipient can enjoy the event as well as some time together.

Join the Conversation: What frugal gifts have you given that have been well received? Have you ever given a frugal gift that didn’t work out?

This entry was first posted Dec. 4, 2012.

Taking Time to Give Thanks

Photo Credit: the.blackswan on Flickr

Photo Credit: the.blackswan on Flickr

This year, Thanksgiving will be different for me. This will be the first year that I will not be going home for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a BIG DEAL in my family, it is an entire weekend affair. We host family from across the country in our home, serve many scrumptious meals, play games, go shopping and enjoy each other’s company. Our thanksgiving table is filled with an abundance of cheese, meats, veggies, breads, potatoes, desserts and more served over three courses all cooked by the all-star chef of my family, my dad. But, I learned early on from him that Thanksgiving isn’t about the food, it is about the relationships.

I am blessed to be a part of a family that values being together so much that they will travel across the country for it. I am blessed to be a part of a family that thinks that a few hours on Thanksgiving day isn’t enough so they are willing to invest the whole weekend. I am grateful to have a family that graciously invites new comers into the fold each year, last year that person was my fiance. This year I am grateful to my family for teaching me that Thanksgiving, and life, isn’t just about the things that you have it is about the relationships that bring you together, even if it is just once a year.

While my Thanksgiving will certainly be different this year, it will also be extra special. Since my fiance and I are unable to go home for Thanksgiving because my fiance has to work on Black Friday, my childhood best friend and her husband are making the trek up to Minnesota to celebrate with us. We couldn’t be more grateful! This year, we give thanks for them. While our Thanksgiving table will be a lot more simple than the one that I grew up with, I am again grateful that the focus of Thanksgiving is not the food but the relationships. I am grateful for friendships that stand the test of time and distance. My fiance and I are eagerly anticipating the conversation, laughter, cooking, eating and all of the activities of the weekend. We are grateful for friends who are more like family. I have no doubt that this Thanksgiving will be just as special as the ones before.

If I have learned anything about frugal living over the past few years, I have learned that frugal living is about intentionally focusing on the things that you have (relationships, experiences, basic needs) rather than the things that you don’t have. While our Thanksgiving table may be less abundant this year, we will have more than enough. What sustains me from year to year, is not the food but the memories and the relationships.

As you celebrate Thanksgiving this year, I encourage you to take time to focus on the relationships. Give thanks for the many things that you do have, rather than dwelling on the things that you don’t. That is frugal living at its finest!

Join the Conversation: What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving?

Frugal Fitness for the Holidays

I don’t know about you but the holiday season always seems to remind me how much I really need to get in shape. All of the food and drink over Thanksgiving and Christmas can really put our bodies over the edge. Instead of waiting until January, why don’t you jump start your fitness routine with these frugal fitness ideas? Don’t let the barrier of expense hold you back!

  • Everyday Fitness: Don’t underestimate the value of everyday opportunities to create a fit lifestyle. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Burn calories cleaning your apartment/house, babysitting, going shopping or garage-saling. Don’t judge those mall walkers, they are getting a good workout!
  • Online Workout Videos: One of the cheapest ways to get fit is to use free online workout videos.Sparkpeople has a variety of videos, some require equipment but there are some that don’t. You can find other free workout routines by searching for videos on youtube or for free podcasts on Itunes. If you have “on demand” TV such as xfinity you may be able to find some free workout videos there as well.
  • Workout DVDs: You can also use workout videos and DVDs. If you don’t have any check your parent’s house for those old 80s workout videos or check out the selection at your local library. Why not gather a group of friends to workout to Buns of Steel a few times a week? You will have plenty of laughs and get a good workout while you’re at it!
  • Get Outside: Use the great outdoors as your fitness center. Get out for a refreshing walk around your neighborhood, run around a park/lake, go out for a hike, or bike on one of the trails. If you live in a colder climate, like me, you might also try snowshoeing or skiing.
  • Dancing: Dancing can be a really great work out as well as fantastic way to have fun with friends. Get down with salsa, swing or whatever you like. Or, try Zumba: a latin-inspired form of exercise that is a combination of dance and aerobics put to the beat of lively, fun music. Many community centers, fitness clubs, and even churches are offering this with varied pricing. Search here to find classes near you. Don’t want to go out? You can always play DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) or Just Dance for a great dance workout at home.
  • Community Classes: Get off campus, meet some new people and get fit by getting involved in some community fitness classes at your local community recreational center. Community centers offer a variety of classes and equiment. You might also check and see if your school offers any fitness classes. If you live in St. Paul, check out some of the offerings in Roseville.
  • Fitness Centers: As you know, fitness memberships can be very expensive. First check to see if your school has fitness equipment available for free or a small fee. If not, see if your school has deals with area fitness centers or if some of your local fitness centers have student pricing.
  • Community Sports/Broomball: Another way to get fit and meet some new people is to join a recreational sports team. One of winter’s most fun ice sports is broomball. A recreational winter sport that is similar to hockey. See if their are any recreational leagues near you, like this on in St. Paul.
  • Do It Together: So often socializing during the holidays involves parties with an abundance of food and drink. Find a few friends who are also interested in staying fit and socialize while you workout. Go for a walk/run, join a class together or just head to the gym together. Looking for something more adventurous? Try out the aerobic fitness classes at Sky Zone indoor trampoline parks or go to an indoor rock climbing gym.

Join the Conversation: What is your tip for staying fit on a budget?

Saving in the Season of Spending

Photo Credit: Johanna Abzug via Flickr

Photo Credit: Johanna Abzug via Flickr

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the Christmas season sets in after Halloween is over. I’m one of those people who thinks that it is sack-religious to listen to Christmas music before Thanksgiving. So, you can imagine my frustration when the commercials begin to feature Christmas lights, trees and music. But, I have to say that my largest frustration with this season is its eternal encouragement for you to SPEND, SPEND, SPEND not just others but also on yourself. I want to offer an alternative message this Christmas season, instead of focusing on spending why not focus on saving?

First, save money on gifts. I encourage you to make a budget for all of the gifts that you intend to purchase this Christmas season and stick to it. Make your money last by using coupons and checking out sales. Buy or make gifts that matter this Christmas, rather than just buying something for the sake of it. Think about how you can give of your time and not just your money to those you love. Check out this article on frugal gifts!

I absolutely love giving gifts, but we have to make sure, as frugal people, that we are giving for the right reason this season. Are we giving because we love to shop and buy gifts? Are we giving because we want to top someone else’s gift? Or, are we giving because we love and care about people and want to give them something meaningful? Better yet, are we giving in celebration of Christ’s coming? It is not worth spending our money on anything that is less than meaningful this season.

With all of that money that you save by giving frugal, meaningful gifts that fit into your budget, I encourage you to do two things with it: save the day for someone in need and save money for the future. First, save the day for someone in need. Take the time to celebrate the season by giving away some of the money that you would have spent on Christmas gifts. Maybe you choose to buy Christmas gifts for those who can’t afford it. Maybe you choose to give your time to serve Christmas dinner to folks at a shelter. Or, maybe you choose to incorporate giving into some of your Christmas gifts by giving money or items to an organization in honor someone. Check out Oxfam America, Sevenly or ELCA good gifts for some great ideas!

Lastly, save money for the future. It can be SO tempting to spend money on yourself during this season. Begin “acting yourself into a new way of thinking” by intentionally setting aside money that you may have spent shopping and putting it away in your emergency fund, retirement savings or other short term savings fund. This is one of the absolute best gifts that you can give yourself, even $20 can make a difference. For more information about the importance of saving for the future, check out this post.

I challenge you this season to save rather than spend. When you do spend, spend that money on gifts that matter. Check out the Advent Conspiracy for more information on making your Christmas season meaningful.

Join the Conversation: How are you saving this Holiday season?

Procrastinator’s Guide to Frugal Halloween Costumes

Happy Halloween! I decided to bring back this popular post from last year with a few new costume ideas for this year!

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend 2.6 billion dollars on costumes for adults, children and pets this Halloween. The average spending per person is predicted to be about $75 on decorations, costumes, and candy! For those of us who are trying to live frugally, holidays can be a challenge. Here are a few frugal, DIY Halloween costumes for those who are still looking for ideas for this year or beginning to think about next year:

  • Classic Toga Costume: Wrap yourself in a sheet + sandals + put leaves in your hair
  • Jay Crew: Polo Shirt + Khakis + a name tag that says “Jay”
  • Jellyfish: Clear umbrella + party streamers or metallic ribbons hanging from it
  • Sick and Tired: Pajamas + thermometer + ice pack + pillow
  • Olympian: Track suit + medal + Olympics logo
  • Hippy: Tye-Dye apparel + bell bottoms + sunglasses + beads
  • Prom Queen: Formal dress (old bridesmaid dress, prom dress, etc.) + Tiara + Sash
  • Facebook: Write “book” across your face
  • Mixed Greens: Wear a variety of different green clothing
  • Beer Bottle: T-shirt of favorite beer brand + Get a foil pie plate, punch two holes in it at either end, and run string through it. Put it on your head like a hat and tie it.
  • Identity Crisis: Plaster yourself with nametags, each with a different name.
  • Carmen San Diego: Red Trench, purple/black hat, gloves, boots, and a globe
  • Freudian Slip Costume: Write Freudian words (regression, Oedipal complex, etc.) on a slip
  • Highway: Black clothes + Yellow dotted line with duck tape down the middle + toy cars and paper signs glued on your body.
  • Lady Bug: Pin some felt or paper circles on a red dress and pick up a pair of wings from a halloween store or goodwill.
  • Bunch of Grapes: This is a great one to do with friends. Wear a purple, red or green shirt then tape balloons of the same color all over your shirt and put leaves in your hair.

For more ideas check out wisebread, realsimple, buzzfeed, c.r.a.f.t. and essortment.

Join the Conversation: What is your favorite frugal Halloween costume?

Fun and Frugal Activities for Fall

boundary waters trip

Trygve, Dave, Michael, Beth and I in the boundary waters Fall 2011
Photo Credit: Trygve Wastvedt

October is upon us. The leaves are changing and the air is developing a distinct chill. Don’t let this beautiful season pass you by! Here are some great ways to enjoy the season both outdoors and indoors:

    • Camping: Looking for a cheap weekend gateway? Fall is the perfect season for camping and sitting around a campfire. If you’re not quite ready to spend a weekend in a tent why not enjoy the crisp fall air with a bonfire, some smores and hot cider?
    • Apple Picking: Grab some friends, drive to an apple orchard and enjoy this fun, fall tradition. For some extra special fun, check out the Afton Apple Orchard’s Apple Festival featuring hayrides, corn maze, live music, a petting zoo and of course apples! Looking for ways to use up all of those fresh apples? Check out these 101 crisp & juicy apples recipes from Southern Living.
    • Outdoor Attractions: Visit the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska.It is free on Thursdays all day (November-March) and every third Thursday after 4:30pm (April-October). Say a last goodbye to the animals at the Como Zoo before they hibernate. Check out the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and if you get chilly head inside to the Walker Art Center– free on Thursday night. Visit the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary, a peaceful garden in Minneapolis with free regularly scheduled birding walks and nature hikes.
    • Ride A Bike: Explore the twin cities by bike, using these handy bike maps. Take in the fall colors at these places around the cities. Don’t have your own bike? No worries! Take out a Nice Ride Bike, for a small fee.
    • Relive Your Childhood: Rake some leaves and jump in the pile. Go for a walk with a friend and collect some colorful leaves to press.
    • Pumpkin Patch: Go to a pumpkin patch and find some pumpkins to decorate.
    • Study Outside: Savor the last few moments of fall by taking your reading or writing outside to study amongst the falling leaves. Need a break from all of the studying? Check out the Twin Cities Book Festival for some fun reading!
    • Farmer’s Markets: Many of these markets are soon to be coming an end for the year, don’t miss your opportunity to get some fall fresh fruits and veggies.
    • Grape Harvesting and Wine Tasting: Grab a friend and join the harvest crew at your local vineyard for a few hours. One of my favorite’s is Cannon River Winery. The harvesting is fun and free, plus you often get to try some of the wine after! Fall is also a great time to go wine tasting. Check out LivingSocial or Groupon to see if there are any good deals in your area.
    • Cheer on Fall Sports: The sports scene roars to life in the twin cities as football gets underway for the Minnesota Golden Gophers and Minnesota Vikings. The Minnesota Twins wind down their season at Target Field, and the Minnesota Lynx make their playoff push at Target Center. Check out the sports teams’ websites for discount ticket opportunities.
    • Celebrate Halloween: Attend a harvest festival, throw a halloween party, go to a haunted house or check out a spooky tour at the State Capitol. For more Halloween events, deals and fun check out twincitieshalloween.com.

Join the Conversation: What is your favorite fall activity?

Fall Frugal Recipes Featuring Fall Produce

Photo Credit: Quiltsalad Flickr

Photo Credit: Quiltsalad Flickr

One of the best ways to eat frugally and save money on your grocery bill is to feature in-season produce in your recipes. Here are some fall fruits and veggies to keep in mind as you shop and some great frugal recipes to go with them.

  • Apples: Apples are the quintessential fall fruit. They are harvested in the Northern Hemisphere during the late summer and fall. While apples are really great all by themselves, they are also wonderful additions to almost any dish. Check out two of my new favorite apple recipes: fried collards with apples and cinnamon apple pork chops. If you are looking for a fun fall activity, why not pick the apples yourself? Check out these twin cities apple orchards for more information.
  • Kale: This hearty green often gets over looked in the grocery store. But it is really tasty when prepared well. Kale is known as one of the most healthy foods in the world, chock full of vitamins A, K, C and maganese. With its hearty leaves it is great in soups and salads as well as steamed all on its own. Check out this great kale with white beans and sausage soup recipe. Check out these 22 kale recipes from cooking light.
  • Eggplant: This beautiful veggie comes into season towards the end of summer and stays in season well into fall. They are at their best August-October. Eggplant is a great meat substitute as well as a good source of fiber. Here are some great eggplant recipes from treehugger.
  • Green beans: While green beans are often available year-round, they tend to be sweetest and most tender during their natural season, from mid-summer into fall. Green beans are a good source of vitamins C, A and K. They make a great side, sauteed or steamed with a little salt and pepper. If you want to get creative, try pickling your green beans for a great snack.
  • Sweet Potatoes: These orange gems are available from late summer through winter, often sold in the grocery store as “yams”. They contain lots of vitamin A as well as vitamin C, maganese, vitamin B6, potassium and fiber. These work as a sweeter alternative to your traditional potato. Check out these 25 healthy sweet potato recipes from health.com.
  • Pumpkins: With Halloween approaching, pumpkins are beginning to pop up in stores. Pumpkins, the most popular variety of winter squash, come into season in September. While they make great decorations, they are also a great source of vitamins A and C as well as fiber. Frugal Living NW lists 26 pumpkin recipes from desserts to drinks to baked goods. But, my all time favorite frugal recipe for pumpkins is simply salted pumpkin seeds.
  • Zucchini: This popular green variety of summer squash is in season from summer into the fall. Zucchinis are high in folate, potassium and vitamin A as well as low in calories. One of my new favorite frugal recipes is zucchini banana bread. It is easy to make and oh so delicious! For some other zucchini recipes, check out these recipes from health.com.

Looking for more information and recipe ideas for in season fruits and veggies? Check out the fall recipe guide from Martha Stewart.com.

Join the Conversation: What are your favorite fall recipes?

Frugal Back to School Tips

Back to School Pic

First Day of Seminary Fall 2010 with Brigitte, Christine and Laura. Photo Credit: Laura Twedell

I cannot believe that it is back to school time already! We are gearing up to receive students on the seminary campus in less than two weeks. Some grade schools are beginning even sooner. Are you ready? Here are some frugal tips for heading back to school geared specifically for graduate students:

  • Books: Books can be very expensive! One of the best things that you can do is compare prices between your school’s bookstore and online sites. One of my favorite sites is AddALL, where you can search for a book and the site lists the price of the book (used and new) at 41 online bookstores, including Amazon, so you don’t have to check all of them individually. Make sure when you are comparing prices you include the price of shipping.
  • School Supplies: Before you start shopping, take an inventory of the items that you already have. Can you reuse that folder or notebook from last year? Do your parents have any supplies sitting in their basement that you could use? Reuse as many items as you can, then make a strict list of what you need so you don’t get detoured when you shop. Stores generally have great Labor Day and post-Labor Day sales if you can wait. If you are worried that you might over spend, create a budget and take out just enough cash to cover that budget.
  • Clothes: I know we are in graduate school, but who doesn’t enjoy a stellar first day of school outfit? Why not find your new outfit in your own closet? Take an hour or so to look through your closet. Try on some clothes that you haven’t worn in a while. Mix and match. If you still want to shop, find a few pieces that you can mix and match with what you already have. Be sure to set a clear budget. You could also host a clothing swap with some friends. Have friends bring gently used clothes and accessories that they no longer want, organize the items and shop away! Any items not taken can be donated to a local thrift store.
  • Apartment: Looking for a few things for your apartment/dorm? Use freecycle to find some free, used items or go thrifting rather than buying new. This is also a great time of year to check out garage/yard sales and/or craigslist.
  • Student Work: If you are thinking about getting a job (or a new job) while you are in school look for one sooner rather than later. It can be easy to push it off until things settle down a bit, but by the time you will need money and many of the more lucrative options might be gone. One of the best options is on-campus work since it tends to be more flexible and cuts down on transportation costs. Check with your school for available options.
  • Transportation: Think about taking the bus, biking, or walking to save money. Even if you have a car there may be some trips that you can do via bus, bike, or foot. Check out some of the amenities within walking/biking/busing distance of your home and school such as grocery stores, banks, drug stores, libraries, coffee shops, etc. Gas can be very costly, even forgoing the car for just a few trips can save quite a bit.
  • Lunch: Consider bringing your lunch rather than buying it, this can save quite a bit of money. Brown bag lunches don’t have to be boring, they can be both frugal and creative. Check out these sites for some good ideas: mint, yahoo, ivillage, and howstuffworks.

I hope that these tips can help you start the new school year with a little more cash in your pocket. Happy New School Year!

Join the Conversation: What are your frugal back to school tips?

10 Frugal Ways to Keep Cool this Summer

AC UnitThe heat is rising outside and so is my electric bill. There have to be some other ways to stay cool this summer without blasting the AC units 24/7! Here are some frugal ways to save money on your electric bill and stay cool on these hot summer days:

 

  1. Fans: Invest in some fans to help recirculate the air in your home or apartment. There are many varieties of fans including use ceiling fans, window fans and tower fans that are each good for cooling different areas. Fans can help your apartment feel cooler at only a fraction of the cost of running an AC unit. Check out this article for more information on fans.
  2. Windows: Keep the curtains and/or blinds closed during the warmest parts of the day. If the windows still let in too much light cover them with a material like bubble wrap. If the temperature drops below 75 degrees Fahrenheit at night, open the windows and use a fan to circulate the cool air. But, make sure to close them before it begins to warm up again.
  3. Keep Cool and Wet: Take a cold shower and let your hair air dry. A great time to do this is right before bed, so you can fall asleep while you are still cool. Another quick way to cool down is by wetting a towel with cold water and wrapping it around your neck. It cools the passing blood in your veins and cools your body’s temperature.
  4. Drink Water: Be sure to keep hydrated. Drink cold drinks and plenty of them. As you get hot, your body sweats in an effort to cool itself. Replacing the loss of fluid is vital. Be sure to hydrate long before you enter the heat.
  5. Eat Light: Eat light meals and avoid hot foods on warm days. Try eating chilled foods and salads as well as lots of fruits and veggies. Check out these articles by lifehacker and new york magazine for some cool food and drink ideas.
  6. Dress Right: Whether you are at home or outside dress for the heat. Wear lighter, more breathable clothing. Instead of walking around the house in jeans and a t-shirt, why not throw on some cotton shorts and a tank?
  7. Keep Appliance Use to a Minimum: Try not to use your oven, dishwasher, washer and dryer as much as possible during the warmer parts of the day as these appliances give off a significant amount of heat. If you must use your oven, try cooking several things at once or make a large batch of items that you can freeze for later use.
  8. Control the Air: Use energy saver and timer features on your AC unit or thermostat to help you adjust the temperature higher while you are gone or sleeping. Each degree that you set your thermostat below 78 will increase your energy use by 3 or 4%. Be sure to close doors to rooms that aren’t often used so you aren’t cooling a space that you don’t use. Sleep in the coolest room in the house.
  9. Check The Filters and Vents: If you have central air, make sure that all of the air vents are clear of obstructions. Similarly, make sure that the AC unit has a clear path to circulate the air, use fans to help circulate the cool air to other parts of your home. Make sure to change the filter in your AC unit, buy a reusable one if possible.
  10. Get out: If you have had enough of the heat, get out of the house! Head to the library, mall or a friend’s home to use someone else’s air conditioning for a while.

Join the Conversation: How do you stay cool in the summer?