6 Quick Tips to Winterize Your Wallet
Winter can be such a beautiful season. Freshly fallen snow, cozying up on the couch, holiday cheer! Although the weather outside may be lovely (or frightful depending on your preference), it can bring some bad news with it: fallen trees, burst pipes, and sky-high utility bills are just a few of the issues one could face. Below, we’ve put together a list of some things to keep in mind during the winter season to save your hard earned cash. Whether it’s routine maintenance, or just developing a new habit, take a look!
Now, let’s all be honest. Unless you’re a car mechanic or a car aficionado, talking about car maintenance is one of the most boring topics around. I’m going to apologize in advance for the snooze fest. However, here are 3 quick things to keep in mind during winter when it comes to your car.
1) Car Battery
Anyone who has had a dead battery on their car knows it’s no fun at all to get stuck somewhere. Your car battery can have issues any time of year, but when it gets really cold, sometimes a battery can struggle to do its job even more, especially if it’s older. If you have any suspicions, consider stopping by an auto parts store and asking for a free test to see how your battery is doing. If the retailer lets you know that its age is beginning to show, it may be time for a replacement.
Ensuring one has enough antifreeze as well as the right solution of water and antifreeze in your car makes me want to snore. But, you know how your pipes can freeze in your house? Well, the same thing can happen in your car engine. And if you don’t have enough antifreeze, it can cost you anywhere from $2,250 to $5,000 on average to replace that engine. It’s cheaper than buying a new vehicle, but way more expensive than having a mechanic check your antifreeze levels.
3) Tire Pressure
During cold weather, it’s especially important to ensure your car’s tires are properly filled. Tires that are filled correctly provide the best contact with the road, which can be especially helpful in winter by keeping you on the road (not swerving on and off it). The US Department of Transportation states that “more than 116,800 people are injured in vehicle crashes on snowy, slushy or icy pavements annually.” Be safe and frugal by checking your tire pressure in rough weather.
Being proactive about car maintenance can keep you from getting into an accident or having other issues that could damage your engine permanently. Either way, it can save time away from work, medical bills or expensive repairs later. Not only can it give you peace of mind, but peace of pocket, too!
This year, I’ve kept my house several degrees colder than years past and I’ve noticed the difference! A few years ago, my highest heating bill was $130. This year, it’s peaked at $80. That’s a $50 difference for just one month! Lowering the thermostat settings for when you will be away from home or sleeping is the key to savings across the year. Ensure this works for you by lowering the temperature, not turning off the thermostat. Turning off the heat when you are away from home can lower the temperature so much that when you return, the system has to work longer to get the temperature back to the standard setting, costing you more money. Adjust your thermostat, pull on your favorite sweater, and keep a blanket nearby. Your pocket won’t regret it!
2) Closing Vents
If you are like me, I assume that closing vents in rooms that I don’t use much will save me money on having to heat or cool that room, right? Hate to be a disappointment, but unfortunately, it’s not that straight forward. According to the HVAC experts of the world, closing vents doesn’t change how hard your unit works, and can actually cause you issues long term, like leakage in the ducts as well as wearing out your unit before it’s time. A new HVAC unit can cost anywhere from $3,722 – $7,817. Rather than replace the whole unit before you need to, leave the vents open so your system can do its job and last you a while!
3) Trim Trees
If you live in an area where it snows or freezes regularly, you’ll want to consider your yard. Any trees that are near your house or driveway could cause issues when it comes to inclement weather. I have had many branches in my yard get too heavy with the weight of snow and ice and woken up to backyard chores. But imagine if that branch had fallen on my house, shed, or my car! That’s gonna be unpleasant AND cost a pretty penny. Consider trimming any threatening trees in the months leading up to the chill.
Although most of these chores aren’t fun, we can all see how they may save us from using that holiday bonus before its time. If you are worried about being prepared in case the unexpected happens, call and talk to one of our Financial Counselors about ways to ensure you have savings set up for the future. Keep warm and enjoy some hot cocoa for me!