How We Save Money With Slight Discomfort

This summer, we’re finding simple ways to save money by being a little uncomfortable in some areas. We had such a harsh winter that by the time summer arrived, we were ready to welcome heat and humidity, no matter how extreme.

Tolerating a little heat is saving us money.

Our short morning commute to work allows us to simply roll down the windows instead of turning on the air conditioning. We even get lucky most evenings and roll them down when the humidity is manageable on the way home. It’s a slight inconvenience that increases our bodies’ heat tolerance and pays off handsomely in savings.

This also works out well for us because we intend to relocate to an area with year-round warm weather once we achieve financial independence. We’re giving our bodies a taste of what that might be like by keeping our temperature environment slightly uncomfortable. At the very least, this is what we remind ourselves when we are irritable.

Prioritization and true happiness 

We prioritize our expenses based on what brings us true happiness and recognize that a certain level of comfort can be quite costly. However, by being willing to experience some discomfort in our lifestyle, we might be able to save a few years of working and have the option to retire early.

Maybe early retirement isn’t in your plans, but getting away from the paycheck-to-paycheck grind and achieving financial independence sounds appealing to us.

And with it comes a bonus: savings! There appears to be a link between saving more and experiencing minor discomfort. Who would have guessed?

A little discomfort is cheap

This is our first summer in our new two-story home. Electricity was included in our previous apartment, and the landlord provided air conditioning.

We kept our small AC window unit that we bought for our bedroom after we moved. Our apartment lacks central air conditioning. Furthermore, the landlord requires that we only use portable air conditioners so that the window frames are not damaged. Fortunately, we were able to persuade him to let us keep the one we already had.

We were going to need at least two portable AC units, one for our bedroom and another for the upper level living room. The portable units cost between $300 and $500 each.

It drives us insane to pay that much when we’ll need to sell them to move abroad after our early retirement from corporate America.

Instead of going with the flow and losing our hard-earned money, we decided to push ourselves and buy only what we needed. Sweaters are worn in the summer by Americans, while they are worn in the winter by people in other countries. We’re used to living in a refrigerator in the summer and have an unhealthy obsession with air conditioning. Sweaters and shorts are not a good summer outfit combination for us.

As a result, instead of two portable AC units, we purchased two window fans. As of now, we’ve survived high humidity (up to 70%) and high temperatures (up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit) with only minor discomfort. We are optimistic about our chances of surviving the rest of the summer with our current setup. And… our July energy bill was $53. Yay!

We’ve been willing to experience slight discomfort in other areas in order to reach massive financial milestones.

I ditched satellite TV in favor of Netflix four years ago. I first got a satellite TV subscription to watch the award shows on the Spanish networks. It was difficult to say goodbye, but I realized that paying $828 per year ($69 per month) to watch a few award shows wasn’t worth it.

According to the Multiply by 25 Rule, we would have needed $20,700 to fund that luxury for life.

We now use a cheaper alternative and watch award show performances online, and Pitbull sounds just as good. It’s a slight inconvenience that saves us life energy.

Comfort is expensive

As we advance financially in life, we begin to prefer a more comfortable lifestyle and are led to believe that we require everything that marketers throw our way. It’s a never-ending vicious cycle.

I grew up with my parents and did just fine without air conditioning. But I’ve also been guilty of costly past behaviors.

For example, why should we set the cooling temperature so low that we need comforters in the middle of the night in the summer? To feel cooler, remove the comforter and stick with just the sheet.

Stay focused!

If you’re willing to experience some discomfort in some areas of your life, you’ll get to your financial goals much faster.

Our monthly energy bill would have been around $200-$300 if we had gotten air conditioners for most of our rooms to make them feel ridiculously comfortable. The most expensive items are usually housing, food, and transportation, so by reducing those, we can live a happier life with just the right amount of comfort.

What slight discomfort have you experienced recently, and is it worth it for your true happiness goals?


After dedicating 13 years of his career to Vanguard, José retired from the corporate world at the young age of 44. During his tenure at Vanguard, he expertly coordinated the production of both electronic and print educational materials for 401(k) participants. Now, he relishes in his early retirement, cherishing time spent with his family, indulging in his favorite hobbies, seeking out new experiences, and savoring meals in the comfort of his own backyard.

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8 years ago

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!

Elizabeth Grahsl
Elizabeth Grahsl
8 years ago

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.

8 years ago

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!

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