5 Harsh Money Truths About Winter That All New Englanders Understand

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Each winter, I learn a little bit more about what it means to be a New Englander. It is, of course, absolutely fucking freezing, and it is pretty well-known that I have a pretty real phobia of cold weather. It is kind of quirky and funny when I laugh about how much I hate going outside when it is cold, but my severe vitamin D deficiency says otherwise. It isn’t cute to be cold-phobic, especially when a giant portion of the year is spent in freezing weather.

I recently made friends with a girl who just arrived last week from Arizona, and trying to give her advice on how to brave the frigid weather got me thinking hard about how expensive it can be to safely and successfully survive winter in Connecticut. (Or, really, anywhere else in the country where it is really cold and snowy.)

I’m a pretty frugal broad, but I’ve learned over the years that compromising quality winter-gear in favor of saving a few bucks is almost never worth it. Here are five money-truths about winter in New England (which I tend to take as gospel this time of year).

1. You may have to invest in snow tires.

I’m (painfully, stupidly) frugal about all things car-related. I love my car, and I’m proud that I bought it — but I still get a little sweaty and nervous when I remember what it felt like to pay so much money for that son of a bitch. Since then, I’ve been super anxious about dropping any more cash on it — and by this, I mean I’ve pretty much gotten it washed twice since I bought it two years ago, and am dealing with the terrible squeaky windshield wipers because I don’t feel like shelling out for new ones. But last February, an unfortunate uphill incident (in which I found myself stuck in the middle of the road halfway up a steep hill, unsure whether or not I was about to roll down backwards Princess Mia style) had me swearing up and down that next winter, I would get snow tires. When we had our first snowfall a few weeks back, I sighed when I remembered that I promised myself I’d get the damn things, and hesitantly got a $500 set of (admittedly very nice) snow tires. It stings a little, but I know that Connecticut is so hilly and slippery, good tires are essential in the winter if you plan on driving a lot. I drove through the snow all day today and didn’t slip once. Last year, I skidded all over the road every day, so the tires are already totally worth the money.

2. You can’t play fast and loose with your gas tank…

Sometimes, whether gets so bad that the gas stations can’t even open. This is bad news bears for folks like me, who like to wait until the car has literally one mile left in it before refilling. My dad was always on my butt about filling my tank when a storm was coming, so I wouldn’t find myself taking any unnecessary trips to the gas station in dangerous conditions to make sure I’d be able to get to work the next morning. I’ve carried that with me and have made sure to keep my tank full the past few weeks in the event that the weather took a cold turn.

3. …or your pantry.

Drew and I stocked up on pantry basics to keep at home over the weekend when an unexpected snowstorm reminded us that sometimes getting out of the parking lot is nearly impossible. We hardly made it to the grocery store without sliding off the road, and stocked up on a bunch of shit that we didn’t have, even though we knew we should have it on-hand. Better to have a small stockpile of nonperishables than to be the type who is lazy and overly frugal at the grocery store and ends up shit out of luck in a snowstorm with empty kitchen cabinets.

Important: this doesn’t mean to start casually dropping cash on random snacks. It just means to make sure that you have the things you’ll most likely need on-hand, so you’re not freaking out when you’re in a pinch and finding yourself cooking unseasoned chicken with a side of air for dinner.

4. You will never regret buying a pair of actually-warm snow boots.

Let us never forget Winter of 2013, when freshman-in-college Mary was so ~cool~ that she decided to not bring a single pair of warm/weatherproof snow boots to her dorm room, and subsequently found herself holding her purple toes over a space heater every evening wondering if she got frost bite. Don’t be like freshman-in-college Mary. Be like last-year Mary, who bit the bullet and got a hundred-dollar (gulp) pair of snow boots that have effectively kept all of her toes toasty warm and on her body every nippy day since.

Seriously, I love these boots so much. I hate snow (ugh, we get it, you hate snow), but I actually get low-key excited when I get to break these boots out.

5. Your skincare needs might change.

I’ve written a ton of posts about my skincare routines, and although I’m still staying true to my blessed $4 soap, the freezing wind has given me chapped skin that my regular moisturizer can’t fix. I had to go out and buy a dry-skin-specific moisturizer (which was completely foreign to me as a through-and-through oily skinned human) to repair my super-dry Rudolph nose. If you’re someone like me who carefully budgets for her yearly skincare and beauty routine, this could throw you off.

Mary writes every day for TFD, and tweets every day for her own personal fulfillment. Talk to her about money and life at mary@thefinancialdiet.com!

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