It happened. It’s here…that time of year when the air-conditioner is off and the windows are open. It’s perfect sleeping weather, and I guarantee at least one of you has ignored the third snooze alarm to roll over, pull the covers over you and get a few more minutes. (Of course, there’s still a fan present in the room to keep things perfect, but without an expensive hum.) I’m actually looking forward to my next Keys Energy bill to note the savings. For me, it will be $50 to $70, but I live in a tiny one-bedroom apartment with only one window unit and no pool heater or clothes dryer. For those of you with enough money to never take note of your electric bill, knowing it will automatically be withdrawn from your checking account that will always have enough money to cover the bill, stop reading. You’ll get nothing from this column, or from the sheer enjoyment of this time of year. I started thinking of the best ways for people to spend the additional $50 to $150 we will have for the next six months or so. It will take a conscious effort to notice and appreciate the diminished value of the check you’re writing, but if you do, here are a few suggestions of how to spend what I consider “free money." (Disclaimer: the wisest thing to do would be to save, invest or increase your retirement fund…yeah, right.)

  • Actually put money into a meter to avoid a parking ticket and the subsequent bill from Law Enforcement Systems, the city’s collection agency.

  • Go to the dentist. It’s always worth it for a cleaning and the obligatory lecture about daily flossing.

  • Buy dental floss.

  • Get your oil changed at least once this money-saving season.

  • Get your bike tuned up, you won’t believe the difference.

  • Pay more than the minimum balance on your credit card. It may not affect the balance too much, but you’ll feel a little smug, I promise.

  • Try the new menu at Ocean Key’s sunset pier. Not that the food is that expensive, but you’ll need cocktails as well.

  • Fill your gas tank entirely, at least twice a month this season.

  • Get a bigger Christmas tree from MARC this year, and an extra wreath. It’s the right thing to do.

  • Donate it to a group that helps people directly such as Toys for Tots, anyone who provides turkey dinners for people, Hospice/VNA caregivers, anything.

  • Buy your broke loved one the annoyingly expensive, but always necessary toiletries, especially razors and contact lens solution.

  • Send your grandmother flowers, or anyone else who wouldn’t expect them.

  • Upgrade your phone plan to include unlimited text messages. Come on, admit it, you’re texting more than you ever thought you would.

  • Do all of your laundry… not just the top half of the hamper.

  • Send a care package to the troops

  • Stock up on batteries. They’re those pesky necessities that are expensive, like film used to be, and make-up still is. Get them for everything, not just the practical hurricane stuff like flashlights and radios. Think remote controls, alarm clock backups, bike lights and children’s toys.

  • Get highlights in your hair, but keep in mind it’s a commitment that will last through the summer when the free money is again taken up by power bills.

You and I may never do any of these things, and that’s OK. But at least we thought about it and appreciate it. Summer’s over, the weather’s perfect, no one had to evacuate, and we live in the place everyone else can’t wait to get to now that they have to pay huge heating bills.

Mandy Bolen’s columns appear in The Key West Citizen

Mandy Bolen's award winning "Tan Lines" column appears bi-weekly in the Key West Citizen. Offering unique insights on life in the southernmost island and life in general, her wit and wisdom has been likened to that of a "female Dave Barry."