Winter is a notoriously expensive time. With the holidays having already past, we’re now stuck with a pretty bad case of the winter blues, which are only made worse while we return gifts and try to make a buck stretch as far as possible.
But, as we focus on paying off our credit cards that have suffered under the weight of a festive spirit, the gray gloom hovering over our heads could be doing more than mirroring our mood. Those clouds could also be brewing a nasty winter storm that is preparing to suck even more joy and money out of our lives.
Rather than simply ignoring the potentially hazardous ice and snow threatening to strike during these frosty months, it is better for you and your budget to play offense. To help you prepare, we’ve got a few winter survival tips that will help keep you and your money cozy inside, even in the middle of a blizzard.
A Home that is a Winter-Proof Wonderland
Battening down the hatches of your house is the first way to save yourself some financial heartache. A malfunctioning furnace or plumbing system can not only waste you money in utility bills, but also rack up thousands in repair costs if either system breaks during a cold snap.
Though it might mean money out of your pocket now, we recommend calling in a few professionals to inspect both systems for issues. Once you’ve assured that both are in proper working order, make sure to keep them that way.
Homeowner best practices dictate that you should change out your air filters regularly and allow faucets to drip on particularly cold nights to keep pipes from freezing. Also, be consistent with your heater; cranking the temperature up and down repeatedly costs far more than a consistent setting.
If your heating bill is still eye-poppingly high and your HVAC system is purring like a kitten, your problem might lie in your insulation. Though it is an investment, installing spray foam insulation will not only prevent air loss in your home, which is how 44% of your home’s heat escapes, but also fortify your home against those nasty winter winds.
You should also check for any drafts around your home and plug those holes quickly. Use caulk around windows and door frames and try rolling up a towel to shove underneath a door that is just a tad too short.
A Car as Weather-Friendly as Santa’s Sleigh
Now that your home is ready for hibernation, let’s turn our attention to your vehicle. Whether you want to admit it or not, you will have to leave your toasty home at some point and your car should be prepared to face whatever perils may rain down.
The best way to save yourself from getting stuck is investing in snow tires, but if you live in an area that sees snow less often than a groundhog sees his shadow, that’s not money well spent. Instead, ensure that your tires are filled with the proper amount of air. You probably will refill them throughout the season as for every 10 degree drop in temperature, your tires lose as much as a pound per square inch (PSI) of pressure.
Your battery can also react negatively to the cold, so make sure a professional mechanic inspects it before you embark on any road trips to a ski resort. No one wants a good time ruined by a dead battery and a stranded car on the side of the road.
But, if you do end up stuck on the highway, you’ll be grateful to the emergency kit that you put together and hid in the backseat. Your collection of helpful tools doesn’t need to be fancy; an extra blanket, a road flare, a flashlight and some snacks and water are enough to keep you warm and happy until help arrives.
A Closet Stuffed with Winter Goodies
While your home might be a cozy cave to curl up in, you still need to stock supplies in it or you won’t survive. Keep essential food that can be easily prepared for emergencies rather than waiting for the last minute to fight over bread and milk at the grocery store.
Also, invest in a snow shovel and rock salt to help keep your driveway and sidewalks clear. Nothing dries up a budget faster than a trip to the emergency room for a broken bone from slipping on black ice.
While it might seem like you’ll need to spend money to save it, these tips can easily be accomplished on even the tightest budget and will provide incredible savings in the long run. Remember, paying for an emergency caused by winter weather is always more expensive than preventing one.