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3 Cheap, Smart Wintertime Survival Hacks

3 Cheap, Smart Wintertime Survival Hacks :: Mint.com/blog

People who hate winter have many reasons for doing so — it’s cold, everybody’s getting sick, snow days keep kids home and messes up everyone else’s schedule, and oh yeah, it’s COLD.

Also, it’s expensive. During the glory days of spring and fall, we get to rejoice in tiny heating and energy bills, but come wintertime, reality strikes in the form of huge bills.

Simply by avoiding hypothermia, your heating costs can easily climb into the hundreds every month. The warmth of April cannot come fast enough.

Unfortunately, because April typically takes forever to get out of bed, get dressed, and show up at your doorstep, you’ll need to find ways to stay warm in the meantime.

And while you could simply run the thermostat at 80 degrees for 24 hours a day, the $200+ a month your heating company will charge you for the convenience makes the whole idea well, inconvenient.

Luckily, there are many cheaper, more effective ways to stay safe and warm this winter, and they don’t involve burying yourself in two dozen heavy blankets for the next few months.

By implementing these ideas, you can confidently keep your thermostat low, and go swimming in every cent you save. You could try…

Insulating Windows with Bubble Wrap

There’s a good chance, especially if your house or apartment building is old, that your windows have little holes here and there.

Or maybe your window doesn’t shut completely in one tiny little area.

Either way, those minuscule flaws can chill your home quicker than an invasion by Mr. Freeze, no matter what you do with your heater.

Luckily, there’s an easy solution– wrap it up!

[Read: 4 Unexpected Benefits of Turning Down Your Thermostat]

Get some inexpensive film, bubble wrap, or even an old sweater, stuff it up against the offending areas, tape it down (insulation that hits the ground the second your cat bats at it will make nobody but the cat happy,) and feel your home heat up stat!

Depending on the state of your windows, this might take a couple minutes or much of your afternoon, but it’s worth it either way.

And once you’re lounging around in your boxers in the middle of February, you’ll agree.

Using Cheap Kitty Litter to Melt Snow and Ice Around Your Car

You don’t just save money indoors during the wintertime; you can also do so while melting snow and ice around your car.

Running your vehicle for long periods of time might help melt the crap around your wheels, but it will also burn gas and oil far quicker than your wallet would’ve hoped.

Alternately, while buying expensive, top-of-the-line rock salt might work to save on gas and oil, it’s also just plain useless.

[Read: Winter Preparation Tips That Will Save You Money]

You can keep your car off AND save on salt, simply by buying a bag of the cheapest cat litter possible.

The kind that, if you poured it into your cat’s box, they’d respond by throwing it in your face.

Cat litter, even the bad kind, can melt snow and ice just as well as rock salt, and at a far lower cost.

You can easily pick up a 10-pound bag for three or four bucks; used, wisely, that can easily last you several storms, and lower the stress on your car significantly.

Leaving Hot Water Bottles Under Your Blankets, and Around Your Pajamas

Hot water bottle are making a comeback, and for good reason– there are few cheaper ways to keep warm all night, and all winter, long.

For under $10, you can pick up a thick rubber bottle, fill it with hot water, stick it under your blanket, and then go to bed confident that what’s inside isn’t icier than Superman’s Fortress of Solitude.

The rubber keeps the water hot, and your bed nice and toasty, all night long.

And if you have an extra ten bucks lying around, pick up a second bottle for your pajamas, fill it up with hot water, and wrap your jammies around it.

[Read: Cheap Ways to Prepare Your Home for Winter]

When you put them on come bedtime, and combine that warmth with the heat emanating from your bed, it’ll be like soaking in a refreshing hot tub all night long.

The best part? No pruny fingers.

Just please remember to buy the real thing.

Don’t go cheapskate and settle for an old soda bottle filled with boiling water. It won’t stay hot nearly as long, and is far more likely to open up at night and surprise you in a most unpleasant manner.

By following these quick and easy tips, your house will no longer be drafty, pesky snow and ice will be a thing of the past, and you’ll sleep as soundly and comfortably as a freshly-swaddled baby.

Even better, the heating company will get far, far less of your money every year, while you get to keep much, much more. Sounds like an ideal arrangement to us!

Mary Hiers is a personal finance writer who helps people earn more and spend less.