Taking the Long View

Some things just take time. Put aside $1000 in an interest-earning account and leave it alone for twenty years and you’ll have a ton of money. Plant a shade tree now, and ten years from now you’ll have shade. Have a baby now and eighteen to twenty-two years from now they’ll be pretty much grown up. Live long enough, and you’ll be eighty. Some things just can’t be rushed.

Unfortunately, the prime years for starting things like shade trees and decades-long savings plans are our twenties and thirties. I for one was not thinking long term during that phase of my life. When those years are gone, they’re gone.

On the other hand, you haven’t lost until you give up. Start those retirement savings in your forties, fifties, even sixties, and you’ll have a great deal more than you would have if you’d never started.

The hybrid poplar tree can grow eight feet a year. Plant it where it will shade your air conditioner compressor the first year and your windows in later years.

Adopt an older child and they’ll be in college before you know it.

Eat your vegetables now, and maybe you will get to eighty.


52 Weeks: Electricity – Make Some Shade

To reduce heat transfer from the sun hitting the windows, cover east and south windows, or the part of them that gets sun the longest. This condo complex forbids aluminum foil. I used white paper, and later pieces of white blackout curtain liner cut to fit.

A shade outside the windows works even better. One house I lived in had a long roof overhang. I hung a bamboo shade from the underside of the eave. I let the shade down to keep the morning sun from even hitting the windows in the first place. After the sun moved on, I raised the shade to let light in. I’ve read of people using the sun shields made for car windows on their house windows.

You can use bubble wrap as a window cover. It’s good insulation and it gives you privacy while still letting light in. You can buy some, but maybe you don’t have to. If you receive it in a package or collect it from a store that’s throwing it away, you can repurpose it to the windows. It’s useful for privacy on bathroom windows or those narrow windows on the sides of front doors.

Apply it by getting the flat side wet and pressing it onto the window. Or you can spray the window with water and then apply the wrap. It’s wonderfully easy to take it down any time you want to. Once you’ve cut it to fit, if you take it down, label each piece as to what window it goes on, so it will be easy to put it back up.

If you live in a hot area and replace your window screens, look in to the UV blocking screens. They cost more, but they block in-coming heat. They’d be most useful on the windows that get the most sun.

Plant trees that lose their leaves in winter on the south and west side of your home. They will provide shade in summer, and let the sun’s warmth through in the winter. Fir trees planted on the north side of the house will serve as a wind break in winter time. Trees that shade the air conditioner unit will save as much as 10% on your cooling bill.

Yard and Garden – Trees

A tree or part of a tree falling on your house or your neighbor’s house can be very expensive, and sometimes deadly. It can be very costly to hire a professional to trim or remove a tree that has become a hazard. Some states or counties have assistance programs for qualified homeowners. Failing that, you can save some money by shopping around for estimates. You can also save by doing the cleanup yourself, if you’re able to or can find a volunteer who is. Once a tree is cut down, consider advertising free wood on Freecycle or Craigslist. Make it clear they’ll have to cut it up themselves.

If the tree is near power lines, ask the electric company if they will trim or remove it. If the tree is a hardwood, the guys who sell firewood by the side of the road might be willing to clear it away in return for the wood.



Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on in both Kindle and paperback versions.