January 2019 is a month that will go down in Chicago history. Record-breaking low temperatures struck the Midwest, and even Chicagoans—known for their tough resistance to severe winters—were not immune to the frigid temps. It felt like the entire city and surrounding suburbs shut down, bracing ourselves for windchills in the -50s. Chicago gave in to the elements and waited out the storm, with residents stuck inside for days.

Will history repeat itself this year? We certainly hope not, but the 2020 Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting lots of snow. With that in mind, and looking back on the Polar Vortex of 2019, we’ve compiled some financially savvy ways to protect yourself, your family, and your home in the case another spurt of severe cold hits us this winter.

Close your curtains

Better yet, if you can, purchase thick curtains with thermal lining. This will keep drafts of cold air from blowing into your house. If you don’t want to buy new curtains, you can DIY a thermal curtain by lining your existing drapes with a fabric like fleece. Or, use items you already have like a rug or thick towel to hang over your windows.

Block drafts from the door

Cold air also comes in through the space around your door. Another important spot to cover is the space between the bottom of the door and floor. Take an old pair of tights or cut the sleeve off an old shirt and stuff it with socks. Place this at the bottom of the door as a buffer to insulate it.

Sunshine is free

While it’s important to block out of the cold drafts that come through windows and doorways by keeping the windows closed, the sunlight that also streams in is a free source of heat. Open the curtains on sunny days, and keep them closed overnight and when it’s cloudy.

Lay down a rug

A surprising amount of heat is lost through the floor. If you have tile or hardwood floors, put down rugs in the winter. Not only will it keep your feet warm, it’ll prevent the heat from escaping.

Clean out your gutters

Before it gets too cold to work outside, remove debris like leaves and sticks from your gutters. This will help the melting snow and ice flow freely. If the water dams up, it can seep into your home and cause damage to your ceiling and walls.

Have a back-up power source

Invest in a generator to ensure your pipes and sump-pump don’t freeze if the power goes out. And, of course, you can use it to stay warm, keep your appliances running, and make sure you can charge your cell phones in case of emergency.

Stock up on food

There’s a reason grocery stores run out of bread and milk before a snow storm. Grab some basics like canned goods, pasta, bread, water bottles, and a few fruits and veggies. And, don’t forget about food for your pets! In the event you can’t get out of your house or the roads are too icy to drive, you’ll have enough food to last you a few days.

Make emergency kits

Keep one in your home with flashlights, batteries, tools, a portable radio, a week’s worth of prescription medication you need, blankets and warm clothes, a fully charged portable power bank for your cell phone, and a first aid kit.

Keep a second emergency kit in your car with a shovel, windshield scraper, coat, hat, gloves, jumper cables, emergency flares, your prescription medication, protein bars, road salt, a first-aid kit, cell phone charger, flashlight and batteries, and a blanket.

Preparation is key!

As us Chicagoans know, the weather is unpredictable. But, especially during the winter months, it’s important to be prepared for anything. Although we’re certainly not wishing for another Polar Vortex, this winter, we hope these tips help you stay warm, without breaking the bank.

Are you prepared for other things coming your way, like buying a car, planning for a wedding, or paying for an unexpected medical bill? Start saving today by opening a savings account with us.