If you’re from Chicago, you know there’s no easy transition to winter. One day it will be 50 degrees, and the next, snow is piling up by the inches with temperatures plummeting toward freezing. While we would love to have 75-degree weather all year, this is Chi-town, and we go wherever the wind, or in this case winter, takes us.

So, what are some tips to help you take on Chicago winters in the most cost-effective way possible? Don’t worry, we have you covered.

Bundle up and stock up

The winter is no time to worry about being stylish. It’s the time to break out the big, heavy coats and hoodies, and double up on socks to stay warm. Now is also a good time to score an extra pair of gloves or a hat for an inexpensive price. They are not only good to have around, but what’s winter without losing the occasional glove? A durable pair of waterproof snow boots is also a wise investment.

For extra warmth, load up on hand warmers. They’re cheap and thankfully can be found at almost any gas station or convenience store this time of year. Whether you’re working outside or at an event in the cold, hand warmers have proven to be effective in making the temperatures more bearable. Plus, they can be reused and are extremely versatile since you can put them in your hats, gloves, or boots.

Keep the heat

As a Chicagoan, you know enduring a hometown winter means you try to bear the cold for as long as possible before turning on your heat. Because once the heat rises, so does your bill. But when you finally do adjust your thermostat, you want to retain as much of that heat as possible.

Use old rags or towels to seal cracks by laying them at the base edge of doors to hold in heat. Make sure windows are sealed and locked to further prevent cold air from making it inside. You can also purchase insulation kits to further secure the drafty openings in your home.

If you have a working fireplace and extra firewood, consider making a fire every once in a while. This provides additional heat to the house without having to crank up the thermostat a couple of more degrees. 

Ready to roll

Preparing for freezing temps doesn’t mean it’s time for hibernation. You still have to get around, pick up groceries, and go to work. However, the sharp cold can do a number on your vehicle. Be sure to check your tire pressure because drastic changes in temperature can deflate your tires, making them more susceptible to damage on the road.

The last thing you want is to change a flat in these conditions. Adding air to your tires will help your vehicle hold up against the elements and the dreaded potholes that are sure to follow. It’s also a good idea to keep extra change in your car if you need to pay to put some air in your tires. Some gas stations offer an air pump for free, so be on the lookout.

Preserve your charge

With less daylight during the winter months, you also use your car headlights more often. That can lead to the common mistake of leaving your lights on, resulting in a drained car battery. The best solution is to invest in a good pair of jumper cables. These are a lifesaver for those times when you need a quick jump, and can allow you to avoid costly towing services and car maintenance.

And it’s not just the car battery that you need to worry about; the cold can affect the battery of your mobile devices, as well. If you can, pick up an extra car charger or wireless charger to keep your devices at full power in case you need them in an emergency. Also, keep your phone in a warm place, such as a pocket or seat warmer. If mobile devices get too cold, they can shut down and you don’t want to be stranded on the road without it. 

Consider the alternative

Let’s face it: Driving in the snow is tough, and it can be a stressful experience. We’ve all held our breath making our way through each traffic light or slid across the ice after putting the slightest pressure on our breaks.

Don’t make the drive if you don’t have to. Take advantage of public transportation or ridesharing services when you can to ease the stress of driving in bad conditions. This is the time to use discounts and free rides offered by many popular ride-sharing services. Often, trains are much more likely to start running before cars and busses. If you can adjust your mode of transportation, it can help reduce your anxiety and make for a safer trip. 

Preparation is key

This winter, we want you to feel confident and in control of how you adapt to the elements. We can’t always predict the weather forecast, but we can help you navigate the season on a budget.

It’s important to be prepared for whatever Chicago winters brings your way. That’s why it’s good to have an emergency fund with money set aside for a rainy—or snowy—day. Check out our savings accounts that can help you get there.