Thursday, February 7, 2013

Living Richly with Old Man Winter

It's that time of year again where the white stuff comes down and makes some of us curse and some smile.  I am definitely one that hates the cold.  If I could convince all of my friends and family to move, we would definitely not live here.  For now though, I haven't had any takers (apparently there are scary bugs down south, but that wouldn't bother me), which means that since it is February I live in a mainly white world.

I am not very outdoorsy this time of year.  Normally I try and wear so many layers that I don't notice the cold and I just stay inside and huddle for warmth under a blanket.  I definitely go into hibernation.

After this weekend of incredible super bowl eating (you know they say the only day you eat more than the super bowl is Thanksgiving) I was feeling like I needed to work out.  I just wasn't up to Jillian tonight.  I looked out the window and saw our neighbors using a snow blower to clear their driveway.  I looked over at our driveway with quite a comforter's worth of snow and I got two thoughts.

First, I really should go out and get a free workout with benefits (and by benefits I mean a clean driveway).  This is actually enjoyable because for the last 4 years we lived at a house with a driveway that was a tenth of a mile long and was gravel.  We had to pay a lot for gas to plow it and the 4-wheeler that the owner's had us use to plow it was always breaking down.  Now that we have a nice short driveway it is still a novelty to go out and shovel- even to me, a non-winter person.

Second, wouldn't it be fun to run the expense numbers on a snow blower?  I'm a math teacher/investor so I'm weird that way.  Here is what I found.  Snow blowers have a wide range in prices- I would say a good median price would be around $700- amazingly some are $2000.  I did a bit more research and found that it is easy to use a half to a full gallon of gas for a driveway, so figure about $2-$4 each time it is used.  Furthermore, they need annual maintenance which would be about $45.  Although my husband does amazing things with homes, he only does a small amount of engine work, so we would probably pay this.

So tonight I used my ergonomic (fancy- and worth it) snow shovel ($15) and my own power to clear our driveway.  I had on enough layers that even I did not notice old man winter.  I listened to my favorite NPR investing show Marketplace while burning up to 400 calories/hour and getting a bit of much needed Vitamin D in this dark dark winter.  I considered it a win win win since I am healthy and smart enough to use the right tool and not over do it.  Slight side note, make sure you remember where you keep your extra key in case you get locked out of your house, not that that happened to me tonight or anything.

Although I know not everyone's back can handle it, I would push anyone that I can to take the time to enjoy the outdoors, listen to your favorite tunes/audio book/radio show/nature, burn a few calories, tone your tummy and tush, and end up with a clean driveway and sidewalk.

Fun calculation (I realize this is a lot of if's and not the most accurate, but still fun for me):  $700 initial investment at 10% (low end of my returns) with $80 annual contribution for 25 years= $15452)
Second fun calculation:  Clearing snow just 9 hours a year would burn one pound of pure fat.  

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