My Kid Set The Thermostat to 90 Degrees – in 20 Degree Weather!!

by Darwin on January 26, 2011

I love my kids, I really do.  But sometimes they do really strange – and frustrating things – like the other night waking me up screaming “I want to ride the monkey! Let me ride the monkey!” (we never figured out if that was a nightmare of some bizarre fantasy or what). Anyway, this weekend, I was walking around the house doing stuff and I felt like it was hotter than normal.  I thought it a bit strange since it was in the low 20s outside. My wife asked me to vacuum and I was going nuts sweating.  After I stripped down to just an undershirt, I was still dying – it was ridiculous!  I figured I either have something seriously wrong with me – or someone touched the damn programmable thermostat!  I went over to see what was going on and it was set to 90 degrees!  The heat had been running all day trying to make up for a driving force of 70 degrees – no small feat.  Imagine if we’d gone out for the day or this thing was cranking like that at night?  I asked around what the heck was going on.  My wife said it wasn’t her, my 4 year old didn’t know what I was talking about and my 6 year old said he didn’t do it.  I was puzzled.  Whodunnit?

The Culprit

Tonight (when it was buzzing at the standard 68 degrees), my wife mentioned that she was cold (perhaps this is a withdrawal symptom of surviving 80-something degree heat all day).  My 6 year old said “Mom, you want me to turn it up to like 90?”.  Whoops! Nailed!  She snagged him and said, “You turned it up this morning, didn’t you!”.  He did.  The ridiculous reason was that he was drying out some craft he made and thought it would dry quicker if he cranked the heat all the way up and stuck his craft on his heater vent in his bedroom.  This apparently, is how a 6 year old thinks.  Kind of like how he leaves our hose running outside after he makes a fountain – for days!  He somehow forced me to learn how to repair a garden hose as well with his antics. It’s funny how the whole thing went down, but also indicative of how little my kids know, or care, about the environment, what things cost or their actions.  They’re kids after all.

Some Things Stick With You a Lifetime

My wife said something that was pretty telling (cue – the actual financially relevant part of the story).  She said even as an adult, she has never touched our thermostat.  She just hates it, the mere though of it.  She said as a child, her father used to rant and rave so much about the thermostat, it was a constant source of fighting in the house.  The thermostat!  It irked her so much, to this day, she wants nothing to do with it (if only she had the same traumatic experience with frivolous spending LOL!).  Anyway, it got me thinking about what sort of financial nightmares I’ll leave my kids with.  Dumb fights my wife and I have like spending too much on clothes, leaving lights on, not flushing the toilet 27 times a day to save a little water (OK, too much info, but seriously, only in America are you expected to flush after each and every dribble no matter how trivial). 95% of the time, it’s me chiding her for spending money frivolously.  It makes me wonder what my kids will think of me when they’re older – and whether they’ll be a chip off the old block.

It’s a Generational Thing

Anyway, I try to instill some good common sense in the kids and I feel like each generation loses a bit of frugality.  We went from the Depression generation (my grandparents).  They were basically money hoarders who always thought they were going to go broke regardless of how much they had in their accounts.  Many in that generation were way more frugal than they needed to be.  They lived as paupers and left 7 and 8 figure fortunes to their heirs.  Then, there’s the next generation who was glad to spend it – along with the futures of today’s young Americans via massive personal, state, and federal debt (crucial debt ceiling vote coming up) which they aren’t going to pay off.  Then there’s the 30 and 40 somethings of today who have pretty much made living beyond your means a national pastime.  Finally, there’s the current generation of children.  Who knows how they’ll turn out – I hope somewhere in between!

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

krantcents January 26, 2011 at 9:40 pm

This is what they call a “teachable” moment for everyone. This is an opportunity to bring everyone onto the same page. Good luck.


Financial Samurai January 27, 2011 at 11:09 am

Hahaha, nice. It actually shows us the innocence of kids and what’s most important.

If one is cold, jack up the heat and forget about the bill!


retirebyforty January 27, 2011 at 5:39 pm

haha, that’s pretty funny. I went to get the check in list from my tenant and he was walking around in a t shirt. I saw the heat was cranked up to 75 degree and I think to myself – I should have charge this guy more rent!


Invest It Wisely February 2, 2011 at 11:24 am

Why not let them pay for the utilities? In the last large building I lived in the heat was included and the thermostats were finnicky (it was either too cold or scorching hot) so a lot of heat was wasted…


brokeprofessionals January 27, 2011 at 8:22 pm

That must have been pleasant, haha. I think back to some of the fights my parents had and they were always about money. I always want to have money not so I can purchase material things but so I can have (perhaps it is just the illusion) security…. probably because of growing up with my parents always working so hard but still worrying so much about money.
Also, when i was very little I once locked my mom outside the house, allegedly. She had gone out for just one second to get the mail and boom….and I was too young to be reasoned with to open it….that must have made my moms day.


101 Centavos January 27, 2011 at 8:57 pm

Hah! Leave to a kiddo to think in such terms. Our own boys drive us nuts in how little regard they have for their things sometimes. But, some sense seems to have sunk in. Our 11-year old was sorting out his thousands of Pokemon cards, getting them ready for the our yard sale, and said “I can’t believe how much money I wasted over these cards”.


Invest It Wisely February 2, 2011 at 11:22 am

Haha, well, they are kids…

I think each generation does get less frugal. I mean as frugal as setting the thermostat at 68 degrees might seem to us, it’s nothing compared to living in a wooden hut with a barren floor like how many people lived a few hundred years ago.

Rises in consumption that are used to raise the standard of living are a good thing. Consumption of resources and degradation of the environment are real concerns, so people do need to pay the cost of that consumption. That’s why I don’t think that electricity rates should be subsidized and also that people should pay the costs of water and other utilities on a usage basis. It’s easy to waste what is relatively free.


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