$83,316.44 | The Long-term Cost of a Few Degrees

[pictured above:  my friends, Chris and Dan, taking a break at Rock Branch Shelter #1 in the White Mountains]

The Spend | Gas and Electric

Here in the good old USA, we waste gas and electric like few others on the planet. In fact, virtually anyone who makes even the smallest of changes to their gas and electric consumption habits will save $15/month or more without inducing a spate of Summer sweats or Winter chills.

The Opportunity Cost | Retirement

Let's take a look at that $15/month as it relates to retirement. If you annualize this savings amount, it turns into $180/year - not a huge amount of money, but if you found it on the ground, you'd certainly bend over at the waist, lower your hand to the ground, and pick it up:-)

The Long-term Opportunity Cost | 30-year Value

Since this post is about the long-term cost of a few degrees, let's assume you adjusted your thermostat a few degrees, installed an energy saver light bulb or two, and maybe did something crazy hard - like lowering the temperature of your hot water heater.

After all your sacrifices, you start saving that $180/year, and put it into your retirement savings at work. Uncle Sam rewards you with $77.44/year in tax breaks; your employer bonuses you up with $128.72/year in matching contributions; and the final tally puts you at $386.16/year saved.

Keep that up for 30 years and invest it in the market - not a good market, not a bad market, just an average market - and you finish up with $83,316.44.

So, to recap in big, obnoxious letters and words, a few degrees can add EIGHTY-THREE THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED SIXTEEN DOLLARS AND FORTY-FOUR CENTS to your life.

Did You Die?

One of my favorite movie lines is, "But did you die?!" Look, if you move the needle on your thermostat for your home and your water heater a few degrees, I can't guarantee that you won't die. I can, however, guarantee that you'll free up some cash flow that can make your retirement a helluvalot more comfortable.

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[click here to see the numbers]