I listed twelve of my favorite horror stories for fall & winter, but if you need something in your headphones to scare you to sleep instead, try my favorite audio versions of some terrifying tales.
Hands Off, a Nightfall show about a lab-grown serum that makes animals aggressive. Very aggressive. Not to be confused with the popular new radio series Nightvale, Nightfall was a Canadian public broadcasting show from the 1980s and the best horror audio show I know of. Try out several and I’m sure you’ll hit at least one that gives you chills. All of them are excellently produced, scripted, and acted. They often contain adult themes and occasional profanity, so they’re not for children!
Dark Benediction, a play about a disease outbreak with a twist– adapted by Sci-Fi Radio— an excellent collection of sci fi story radio adaptations.
Chicken Heart from stella OTR program Light’s Out by radio virtuoso Arch Oboler is under 8 minutes long and unusually chilling for the bizarre plot line. Many other Light’s Out programs are excellent as well.
Sorry Wrong Number is another famous Suspense OTR show starring Agnes Morehead as the (very) hysterical protagonist trying to prevent a murder being plotted.
Dracula. Bram Stoker’s tale adapted by Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre in 1938. Welles– who plays Count Dracula here– often tried very ambitious productions on his Mercury Theatre. This version of Dracula works very well. Welles’ classic War of the Worlds is a chilling tale in itself too, but about an alien invasion.
Speaking of Dracula, what if Sherlock Holmes tried to catch him? Well, it would be this 85-minute 1981 BBC radio play– Sherlock Holmes v. Dracula— which actually works quite well despite the ‘what-if-Superman-fought-Batman’-style premise. The voice acting is excellent with superstar BBC radio voice actor John Moffat (of Hercule Poirot fame.)
Speaking of Poirot, this 90 minute Agatha Christie detective caper–Halloween Party— takes place at a children’s party. There is murder afoot, and only Belgium’s most famous detective can crack the case! All the Poirot radio plays on this album are very good.
The Ghost Train— a 90-minute BBC 4 adaption of a 1923 play– is a light, comedic spooky story for those who don’t want to have to sleep with the lights on. Many shorter BBC 4 Ghost stories are found in the same collection as well.
Here’s how I overcome the two main reasons saving money is hard for people:
Inertia (aka mental laziness)
Loss aversion to cuts in lifestyle
Overcoming inertia– which is just a fancy way of saying ‘changing your habits’– is often where my clients get the quickest spending wins. Changing your automatic habits is often more about spending a little time to, say, shop for a better deal on something, or change your banking structure to build wealth by default, vs having less stuff or less experiences.
How do you overcome spending inertia? You can start by figuring out your spending, and then do one of these things which don’t involve any sacrifice of your lifestyle.
Cancel stuff you don’t use anymore
Here’s a few examples to motivate your own saving:
Cancel any subscriptions that you no longer use, or use so rarely you’d never miss them. Never use Hulu anymore because you spend all your time on Netflix? Cancel it. Write down all your subscriptions– look at your last months’ credit or debit card statement to find them all– and then make notes on the costs and which ones aren’t worth it anymore, then cancel them. Click this Google query and replace the word ‘Netflix’ with your subscription to find out how to cancel it.
Bought a gym membership but never go? Cancel it, and optionally substitute with some body weight exercises, or buy some (used) home gym equipment.
Bought something you don’t use anymore? Sell or donate it to free up space in your home.
Substitute with a free or cheaper option
Substitution is another great way to cut costs without cutting fun.
The library has free books, ebooks, audio books, streamingmovies (yes, you heard me!), and other freebies like digital subscriptions to paid services like newspapers or Consumer Reports. Sign up for a library card at your nearest branch and see what they have to offer.
Switch cell phone plans to Consumer Cellular (I use and recommend them) or other small carriers like Ting. Google is getting into the act too, but I hear they charge extra for WiFi hotspot tethering. This takes a couple hours of time to port over your old number, but the savings will be several hundred a year for many people and most couples on a family plan.
Mooch! Ask your friends and family if they can add you to their streaming subscriptions. I get Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and Spotify all for free thanks to the generosity of my friends and family. You could also offer to split the cost with someone– or swap services– but many people have open ‘spots’ on these subscriptions and are happy to add close friends and family.
Do something yourself instead of paying for it. Yard work, simple car repair and maintenance, dog-walking, cleaning, or even making your own hard apple cider are all skills you can do with a little time and interest. YouTube is your friend if you want to learn new skills. DIY’ing has other benefits like exercise, building confidence, and using different mental skills to keep that brain sharp. You also save the time it takes to shop or coordinate the service you pay for. Invest in yourself and save!
Loss aversion due to fear of lifestyle cuts
Remember that nearly every spending cut you make can be instantly and easily reversed, so there’s no risk in trying something out and seeing how it goes for a few weeks! A few of my clients are initially resistant to talking about spending cuts because they think it will mean a reduction in their lifestyle. We often overestimate the happiness we’ll feel when engaging in ‘retail therapy’, but their concerns are legitimate. I try to get around this reluctance by recommending spending cuts that have small lifestyle cuts, or lifestyle impacts that are unknown, but can be easily tested and rolled back if clients find that they miss whatever they cut out.
Reduce the frequency of repeat purchases, or delay an upcoming purchase
A great way to minimize the hit to your lifestyle is to just do a little bit less of something, and see if you really miss it.
One of my clients cut her housecleaning service from once every 3 weeks to once every 4 weeks. This made no difference in her happiness– and probably little noticeable difference in her apartment’s cleanliness– but it cut her cleaning bill by 25%!
Delay your next haircut, massage, mani-pedi, or other personal care service.
Even just delaying routine purchases like a new cell phone or laptop will add up over time. This assumes your old devices work just fine for you: don’t put up with glitches that are actually wasting your precious time or frustrating you!
Buy one thing at a time instead of subscribing
Ramit Sethi describes his a la carte method of just buying things when you want them as opposed to paying a recurring subscription fee. This method works great for things like streaming services (just buy one movie at a time), gym memberships (buy single use passes), or any other subscription service that you use infrequently.
This method works because we overestimate how often we use our subscriptions, and we rarely never do the math to see if it would be cheaper to just buy one thing at a time vs subscribing. Gym memberships are notorious for this. I was occasionally going to a 24 Hour fitness years ago, and then I actually looked at how often I went, which was only once every 2 weeks! I immediately cancelled my $40/month membership and switched to using $10 day passes instead, saving me $20 a month.
I do the same thing with streaming movies. If there’s one I wanna watch RIGHT NOW that I can’t get through the library– or through one of my friends’ or family’s subscriptions that I freeload on– then I just pony up the $3-4 and stream it, no sweat. I probably do this less than once a month, so I’m saving compared to paying $12-$15/month for another streaming service.
Simply jot down the cost of your subscription, divide by how often you use it to get the ‘per use’ cost, and then cut the ones that are more expensive than buying a la carte. Or, just cut them anyway and trust that buying a la carte will make you think twice about using that service and thus save you money anyway. You can always re-subscribe later if it doesn’t work out for you.
Make small changes at first
Some people try to cut everything down to the bone all at once. “I’ll never go back to Whole Foods and will buy everything on sale or at Costco!” they say, and within a week they’re back to cashing their whole paycheck for organic tomatoes and trendy skin lotions. Instead, start small to build habits you can actually stick to. (That’s also why I recommend small annual increases to your retirement contributions.)
Turn your thermostat down by 3 degrees in the winter, and up by 3 degrees in summer if you have AC. This will save you at least 10% on your heating bills, reduce your greenhouse gas emissions, and you’ll barely notice it. Just throw on a Merino wool sweater when it’s cold out– or move around a little more— and bank that extra cash.
Pack your lunch for work one extra time per week.
Make one more meal at home per week instead of ordering out.
Host drinks or dinner at home for a change instead of going out, and encourage your friends to reciprocate.
Say ‘no’ to one expensive travel plan (*cough* friend’s destination wedding) that you can’t really justify going to.
Where will your next $1,000 in savings come from?
Pick an area of your life that you can spend 1 – 2 hours on right now to realize some significant savings, and share what you do and about how much you’re going to save in the comments.
While summers in the Pacific Northwest are (usually) amazing, fall might be my favorite season. The crispness in the air, the changing color of the leaves, the back-to-school vibe and cosiness of getting ready for winter. It’s my favorite backpacking season, and also the best time to curl up with a good book on a rainy, windy night.
I’ve curated some of my favorite spooky stories here and provided links where you can get them for free. 1 & 2 are longer short stories, 3 – 9 can be read in one sitting each, 10 is a longer short (and not really scary per se, more of a folksy fall classic), and 11 & 12 are novel length.
The Willows by Algernon Blackwood – This is the creepiest story I’ve ever read, and I read it for the first time in my 30s. Maybe it was the fact that it was set on a canoe backpacking trip that made the horror seem more real to me. I could imagine myself on the windswept shore of a dark river at night, peering with unfamiliar terror at the strange shapes Blackwood describes. (I won’t spoil it for you.)
The Wendigo by Algernon Blackwood – This is the second best Blackwood story that I’ve read. It also involves being on the in woods, so maybe I’m just revealing a fear of bad things happening while camping :). (None of Blackwood’s other stories I’ve read, including xxxx, were worth reading in my opinion. Not bad, but not scary, and they start to get pretty formulaic after you’ve read a few.
Edgar Allen Poe – 3 through 8 in this list are all in this collection. Edgar Allen Poe is widely acknowledged as the master of the horror story, and for good reason. The collection linked above has all of the below tales, or you can download some individually with the links provided. The Raven, a rhythmic tale of melancholy that’s a lot of fun to recite out loud
The Fall of the House of Usher. Hints of incest inform this tale about the fall of the ‘line’ of an aristocratic family enduring hard times.
The Masque of the Red Death. About a group of Renaissance Italian aristocrats that flee the plague engulfing the city to a country estate to revel until the disease is gone. A perfect story for coronavirus season.
The Mesmerist. A creepy tale about a person hypnotized just before death as an experiment to see what happens when they die while still hypnotized…
The Tell-Tale Heart. Another classic about a somewhat-insane murderer. A good one to read out loud to a small circle of friends and family in a dark room lit only by candlelight.
The Cask of the Amontillado. A tale of revenge served cold.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. The linked collection has this humorous tale of an urbane school teacher who falls in love with a farmer’s daughter and then encounters a mysterious headless horseman on his way home from the rich farmer’s country harvest party. It was also made into the fun Disney short narrated by Bing Crosby.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula. (Send this file to your Kindle like this.) This is a novel, not a short story, and was also made into a well-done radio play by Orson Welles on his Mercury Theatre (good if you want to get the story in a condensed version vs reading the longer prose original!)
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Originally conceived when Shelley, her husband Percy, and Lord Byron competed to write ghost stories while on holiday in the Swiss Alps, this novella about the famous monster was first published anonymously by Shelley in 1818.
Enjoy! If any of the links don’t work or are no longer free, search Amazon for ‘<book title> kindle free’ and see what pops up. If that doesn’t work, do the same search on Google and find an archive.org or Project Gutenberg link, download the MOBI file, and email it to your Kindle email address.