Rich vs. Poor


 

         T. Mary Eker gives us 17 ways the internal finance “blueprints” differ between poor folks and rich folks:

(From his book “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind“.)

 

  1. Rich people believe: “I create my life.” Poor people believe: “Life happens to me.”
  2. Rich people play the money game to win. Poor people play the money game to not lose.
  3. Rich people are committed to being rich. Poor people want to be rich.
  4. Rich people think big. Poor people think small.
  5. Rich people focus on opportunities. Poor people focus on obstacles.
  6. Rich people admire other rich and successful people. Poor people resent rich and successful people.
  7. Rich people associate with positive, successful people. Poor people associate with negative or unsuccessful people.
  8. Rich people are willing to promote themselves and their value. Poor people think negatively about selling and promotion.
  9. Rich people are bigger than their problems. Poor people are smaller than their problems.
  10. Rich people are excellent receivers. Poor people are poor receivers.
  11. Rich people choose to get paid based on results. Poor people choose to get paid based on time.
  12. Rich people think “both”. Poor people think “either/or”.
  13. Rich people focus on their net worth. Poor people focus on their working income.
  14. Rich people manage their money well. Poor people mismanage their money well.
  15. Rich people have their money work hard for them. Poor people work hard for their money.
  16. Rich people act in spite of fear. Poor people let fear stop them.
  17. Rich people constantly learn and grow. Poor people think they already know.
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25 “What If” Finances Questions


         The economy is on life support. Times are hard and the vast majority of American’s finances are simply limping along. If you are fortunate enough to have a steady income and money to spare after a paycheck, it’s time to ask yourself the tough questions. Are you saving all that you can be? Are you casually wasting money in the present on things you want but don’t need? Is your future secure in the event of a lost income stream? Here are 25 questions to ask yourself to determine if you are where you need to be financially or if you belong somewhere in the “Needs Improvement” category.

         1. What if the government seized your assets and froze your accounts? Emergency funds in a secure, FDIC insured account are wonderful. But those accounts get insured because the government is involved. They can put a lock any one’s account at any time, even giving sketchy reasons behind it. If those accounts are frozen, you will need a temporary fund source to survive. Ideally, you want to keep about $1000 emergency cash at home, in a safe. This will also benefit if something immediate occurs that doesn’t allow you to get to the bank, or if the power grid drops and ATM’s are no longer an option. It’s also wise to keep about $300 in your car in case you become stranded on the road and have no access to your accounts.

         2. What if the economy does not recover? We should all develop the skills to tighten our wallets and find ways to save money. Constantly update your resume and keep yourself available for work. If you have a job, do whatever you can to maintain it. If they try to lay you off, ask if you can take a cut in hours or pay instead. Bargain shop and save as much as you can from whatever you make. Remember the golden rule: save 10% of your income.

         3. What if a sudden, unexpected medical emergency comes up? Not everyone can afford health insurance. That is one of the many challenges facing this nation. Our medical industry is not made to benefit the people who need it most. If you can afford health insurance, be sure to cover yourself and everyone in your immediate family. If you can get benefits through your job, do not opt out. If health insurance is not an option, consider this staggering statistic: the average bill from just a standard emergency room visit is $1500. Do you have that much tucked away? If not, and you are without insurance, you better start your emergency fund account pronto.

         4. What if the cost of food continues going up? Food is getting more expensive then ever to grow, transport, manufacture, and sell. Taxes have gone up on food sales. To counter the cost of production, most companies are raising prices and lessening volume. You should stockpile long lasting foods now, not only for emergencies, but in case those items double in price later on. Starting a small garden at home is a great way to lessen the damage food does on your wallet. Start buying generic products now so that when the name brand companies raise their prices, you will already be used to the taste of generic outlet brands. Find ways to save money on food by eating at home and packing your lunch. Avoid fast food as it has the least nutritional value of any food you waste money on.

         5. What if a loved one dies and you suddenly find yourself needing to pay for funeral arrangements? Research shows that the typical funeral costs any where from $4000 to $6000 depending on what services you require. A lot of people buy plots and tombstones in advance to avoid unnecessary financial burden to the loved ones they leave behind. Creamtion is also a much cheaper option. Many city services will bury your loved one for a small fee. But a lot of municipal councils are doing away with that service. Think about this stuff now, as it’s going to happen.

         6. What if you or a spouse loses a job? Any financial expert will tell you that you should at the very least have 30 days worth of expenses saved back for emergencies. Some will argue that 6 months is better. And still others will tell you that in the current economy saving for a year isn’t too far fetched. Unemployment is skyrocketing. Some people have been out of work for years. Do you have extra skills to take on a side job? Are you prepared to take a pay cut to get a job at a fast food restaurant? Are you mentally prepared to cut out monthly expenses such as cable and other services? Get your wallet and your mind ready for the possibility that you won’t always have a job.

         7. What if you are in a car accident and your vehicle is destroyed? This is possibly one the most devestating things that could happen to a large family. Suddenly the parents can’t get to work, the kids can’t get to school or extracurricular activites. Aside from any medical bills, now you have to pay for the cost of replacing your car. Ensure that your insurance covers whatever your car is worth. On top of that, always drive safely and follow the rules of the road. Keep your car well maintanenced and check fluids. Prevention is the key to avoiding automotive disaster.

         8. What if your home is burglurized, burns down, or gets ruined in a natural disaster? Everyone should have some type of home owner’s insurance. It’s cheap and can cover a large amount of expenses. Even if you live in an apartment, you can get a $25,000 policy for about $300 a year. That is nothing compared to the peace of mind you’ll feel knowing that you can get help if all your belongings are destroyed.

         9. What if cash becomes a comodity nobody wants? Some advice here would be to stockpile at least $250-$500 worth of coins. Nickels, dimes, and quarters. It would be wise to invest in some gold and .99 silver coins. Learn how to trade and barter so that if no one wants to take your cash, perhaps they will swap items with you. Learn the value of your items so you can know what you have to trade with. Develop haggling skills and frequent flea markets to see how this type of business is done.

         10. What if you were forced to retire today? This question is more for the seasoned readers. If you are getting up in years and the prospect of retiring is looming in the distance, you should be prepared for this life changing event. Do you have enough saved? Is your porfolio and 401k ready for the transition? Can you live comfortably for the rest of your life and what you have? If no, you have some serious work to do. For the younger crowd, start saving for retirement now.

         11. What if you could change ten things about your finances? What would they be? A learning exercise. Get a slip of paper, make a list, and then act on your desires. Things will never be different if you don’t get real with yourself and make a change. Start today. You are in control of your financial destiny.

         12. What if you could write a letter to yourself ten years in the future and ten years in the past? What would you say? Another training exercise. Write both letters and be honest. You might surprise yourself.

         13. What if your finances took a turn for the worse and you had to move to a smaller place? Prepare yourself for the possibility. This will help you figure out what’s most important to you. What items do you keep and take with you? What would you force yourself to leave behind? Honesty is the best policy would it comes to the future. You may at some point have to downgrade your life. Are you mentally and emotionally prepared for that?

         14. What if you physically lost the ability to work or care for yourself? Who would you rely on? How would you cope?

         15. What if you never took the steps to right your ship? Pretend you stayed a slave to debt. Pretend you kept living paycheck to paycheck. Pretend you never disciplined yourself to do better and to get ahead in life. Now imagine what the outcome of such a life would be. Look into the future, say around your retirement age. Are you content, living comfortably with money to spare? Are are you still working, maybe two jobs, probably for someone younger than you? Do you want to work until you die? It’s time to get your game face on and make whatever necessary changes you need to for a happy, successful, and secure future.

         16. What if you had to immediately come up with $5000? Could you do it? This is important to consider. Thing about ways you could raise immediate cash. Pretend you had no emergency funds or cash. What could you sell to raise money? How could you pull the funds together? Side jobs, donating blood, selling belongings, and even asking relatives for help might have to be considered. Are you prepared to do these things?

         17. What if you suddenly find yourself in legal troubles? It would be wise to always keep an attorney on retainer just in case. Find one with a cheap rate and make sure they are available when you need them. They might not be the best long-term lawyers, but for something immediate and brief, say perhaps a bail hearing, they will be handy to have just a phone call away.

         18. What if you find yourself in need of major home repairs? A water pipe bursts, flooding a whole floor; a beam cracks and part of the ceiling collapses; the roof starts leaking; the refrigerator stops working. These are all things that can and might happen. These types of things are exactly what emergency funds are for. Be prepared for the worst and you’ll never feel the stress of an unexpected expense.

         19. What if you had abslutely no calvary coming to the rescue? Say something horrible happens and you suddenly find yourself without friends or family, completely alone and without any assistance. Could you mentally cope? Could you financially survive? Do you trust yourself enough to fix your problems? If not, you had better start gaining the knowlede you need now. Learn how to write a check, pay a bill, obtain a loan, file an accident report, or keep a budget. There are somethings you need to rely on yourself for. Your own finances should be one of them.

         20. What if a friend or family member unexpectantly asks you for money? You should be financially wise enough to know whether you can afford it or not. If you can spare it, do so responsibly. Don’t over extend yourself or cut into your savings or budget. Only give if you have extra. If you can’t lend the money out, then learn how to honestly and politely tell them “No.” So often we put ourselves at risk to assist those we love. To be financially stable you have to learn when to not give in. This technique helps when dealing with children who want, want, want.

         21. What if you find yourself on the verge of becoming a new parent? This is a scary idea. Children are expensive. Especially in the first year. The best advice you can get on this matter is to save in advance and plan when to have your children. Use contraceptives and some form of birth control. Avoid unexpected pregnancies. Suddenly having another mouth to feed can be a daunting task. Don’t take it on unless you are prepared to deal with the consequences.

         22. What if the stock market crashes? This question is for my investment readers. You can read numerous nightmare stories onlne about investors who put all their money into one nest egg. For some stocks, for some mutal funds, for others a company 401k. You should never put all your money in one place. It’s good to expand and keep many options open. A person should have a diverse porfolio. Invest in stocks, put money into a 401k, have a retirement high-yield savings account, maybe get a few government bonds, or put cash into a CD. Physical investments are a good idea to. Gold and silver coins will always be valuable. Keep yourself spread out to avoid losing everything at once.

         23. What if you died today? Let’s face it, everybody is going to die. When don’t know when or how. So if this happened, are you prepared to leave your loved ones behind with a secure future? You should have a Will in place to delegate left behind real estate, finances, and belongings. Write “In the event of my death…” letters to everyone close to you. Tell them how you feel and leave them instructions. Be sure to leave behind access codes, keys, and the location of anything you might have kept tucked away. Get a life insurance plan so that your family will be financially stable without you. Make sure any health insurance, work documents, or financial options have the beneficiries clearly listed and defined. Don’t leave anything to chance. Tie up the loose ends now and rest easy knowing your family is taken care of.

         24. What if your bank starts charging for the use of a debit card? If you are with Bank of America, you might have already jumped ship. The news is full of other banks thinking of falling in line with the BoA $5 charge. The thing to remember here is that banks are hoping you will abandon the debit card and take out a credit card. Don’t fall for the trap. Recent law changes modified how much banks earn for debit card transactions. They make more money off of credit card transactions and interest rates. They want to charge you for the debit card to make you interested in credit cards. It’s a scam to make money in the dirtiest of ways. You’d be wise to either try to change banks or to just pay the fee and stick to using the debit card. $60 a year is a hell of a lot better than paying insane interest charges on a credit card every month.

         25. What if you won the lottery? We’ll end this post with a bit of fun. Get out a sheet of paper and just write down all the things you’d do if you won a megamillions jackpot. Keep the list tucked away somewhere. You never know, you just might get lucky someday.

Death To The Dollar


         The news is buzzing right now with an idea that’s been thrown around: getting rid of the U.S. Dollar. The paper dollar has long been a staple of our economy. Backed by gold and trusted virtually everywhere in the world, the U.S. Dollar has proven to be a fundamental importance to the American way of life. Sadly, there are those within Congress and the Federal Reserve who feel that paper money is becoming a burden and have begun circulating the rumor that perhaps we’d be better off without it.
         As a way to reduce the deficit, the Federal Reserve has made claims that making paper money is expensive and a waste of tax money. (Disclaimer: The U.S. Dollar is not actually made from paper, but for the purpose of my post I am calling it paper.) The Federal Reserve minted billions of gold dollar coins. Most of those coins rarely see the light of day, being kept locked away in the Federal Reserve. The prospect of doing a little house cleaning has got the Reserve jumping on the bandwagon of trading in the paper dollar for the coin dollar. But is this really the best of ideas?
         We have all felt the annoyance of having a pocket full of coins and sitting down in our car and having that change fall out and get lost, never to be seen again. Change is hard to hold on to. It can slip out of your pocket and be lost forever on the floor of a movie theater or the cushions of a restaurant booth. Most vending machines are not designed to take the large, thick dollar coins, but most all of them have paper money slots. Wallets, purses, and envelopes are all designed to functionally hold, protect, carry, and utilize the dollar bill. Just the sheer weight of a coin versus paper money and the thought of carrying clanking metal in your pocket is enough to deter anyone from being interested in this.
         Bills are convenient. They can be easily transported or mailed. They make any transaction a breeze. And there is nothing better than cold, hard cash when making purchases or trying to haggle a deal. Just ask anyone at a garage sale, flea market, or pawn shop. Bills come in the most popular forms of a one, five, ten, twenty, fifty, and a hundred. So this begs the question, if coins replace the paper, will a separate coin be made for each bill? If not, imagine converting fifty one dollar bills into fifty one dollar coins. Doesn’t sound very pleasant does it? If they do make a separate coin for each bill, how would we differentiate them from each other and from the other coins already in existence? What materials would be used and what president’s image would be utilized? Another thing that will have to be considered is the dozens of other coins we have already. Pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, half dollars, golden dollars, all of these will still, presumably, be in circulation. Anytime we make a purchase, we will get a mountain of coins back as our -quite literal- change.
         If you stop and think about it, it would seem that all the time, effort, and money spent on this project wouldn’t be worth the miniscule amount of savings that are being claimed by the committee. First off, you would have to initiate some sort of recall for paper money. The sheer massiveness of trying to round up and trade in every paper bill in the world can’t even be fathomed. It’s an impossible task. Secondly, assuming coins would be made for each bill, then entire committees would have to be assembled to design each coin. Then materials would have to be gathered and actual coins would have to be produced. Another lengthy assignment. Lastly, after the coins are made, you’d have to get them into circulation. Banks would have to be converted. Every single store in the country would need to have their bills swapped out for coins. Considering the lack of appeal and interest in the already minted dollar coins, this all appears to be an idea that most businesses and consumers would not be behind.
         Another problem with coins is that they can’t be verified or traced. Bills have serial numbers and authentication strips that show up under black lights. A consumer can go online and trace the origin and recent purchases used with a bill in their possession. Coins have no verifiable imprints and include no serial numbers. One would assume that counterfeiting a coin would be much easier than a dollar bill. How does the committee plan to accommodate this huge oversight?
         The smart idea would be to do away with coins altogether. Make every sale an even dollar and then we can all stick to paper. The coins can be kept for collectors and personal minters. Whatever isn’t preserved can be melted down and used for other purposes. With the rising cost of food prices a pocket full of quarters hardly gets you anything in a vending machine anymore. Most individuals use bills for vending machines. A lot of machines have now been retrofitted with credit card readers making physical money a thing of the past.
         Coins are the most primitive form of money. Ancient civilizations used crudely stamped coins, misshapen and no two alike. A stack of coins will take up more space, with less worth, then a stack of bills. The Federal Reserve will be hard pressed to find any citizen who is happy to go along trading a hundred dollar bill in their wallet for a hundred bronze coins in their pocket. It’s impractical and burdensome. The committee tossing this idea around has cited various numbers about how much money it would save the government in the long run. Meanwhile the government continues wasting billions on Homeland Security initiatives in order to control and document every citizen. Billions more are wasted on foreign aide and unsubstantiated wars. Trillions are wasted on failing businesses who wouldn’t know an accountant if one applied for a job as CEO. Looking to the fringes of unimportant issues to save money is not the way to fix the ever increasing debt of this country.
         Nothing vital will be earned by trading in paper bills for metallic coins. In the long run, it will prove to be a horrible initiative and a taxing change. The U.S. Dollar may be declining, but there’s little evidence that China will be more accepting of a physical coin over a dollar bill. It seems more like swapping out a flat tire with another flat tire. The real issue is not in the dollar itself, but in the economy it’s trying to fuel. The economy and the politicians with their hands in the piggy banks are the things that need swapped out and replaced. Switching from a paper system to a coin system feels like a cheap ploy to avert everyone’s attention away from the fact that regardless of what the physical currency is, the U.S. Dollar -and the government backing it- aren’t worth a damn these days.

Stocking Stuffers


         Christmas will be here before you know it. Generally buying presents for people is a fairly easy exercise. But filling the stocking can be difficult. It’s small and shaped awkwardly. So where can we find tiny gifts to fill this holiday tradition? Well, if you’re frugal and want to save money, you should get some free samples of everyday items and use those to fill the stocking. You can get perfume or cologne fragrance samples, handy travel items such as Emergen-C drink mixes or Shout wipes, or you can even get free food samples. These might not seem like the best ideas, but they are free and compact so you can fit them easily into the stocking. If you already have a few items for the stocking, these free samples will make nice fillers. Check out websites like AllYou.com or SweetFreeStuff.com or MyFreeProductSamples.com. I subscribe to several free websites and get emails once a day with all sorts of free samples. You can get coffee samples, energy drink samples, cookie samples, detergent samples, perfume samples; you name it and you can probably find it. So before you pull your hair out looking for something tiny and useful, check out what these free sample websites have to offer. But start ordering now as some companies take 6-8 weeks to deliver.

Financial Discipline


         Times are hard. Wallets are thin. The American family is struggling. Sound familiar? You’re probably one of them. The writer of this blog sure is. The news is filled with reports of families taking drastic steps to just keep their heads above water. A father dumpster dives for food and things he can sell to feed his family. The Occupy Wall Street movement has spread into protestors targeting the homes of rich people. Some of our very own citizens are so stressed by the lack of employment that they are considering moving to the other side of the planet just to find a job. And these are just things happening within our own shores. The once coveted U.S. Dollar is growing less valued which is in turn causing turmoil in the European market. Financial structures within a multitude of countries are all collapsing on themselves. Governments are weakening as the voice of the poor is heard ringing throughout every land. It seems the recession is not limited to just the Red, White, and Blue. We are all feeling the backlash of failing big business, government bailouts, and corrupt politicians.
         Incomes are down and the workforce is dwindling, even though most experts claim the recession is over. For a lot of the average, 40-hr-work-week employees, the prospect of financial security seems like a joke. Most people fortunate enough to have a job are working paycheck to paycheck, bending over backwards to try and make the ends meet. So what should we do? As a typical citizen, unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot you can do to get the government in functioning order. Things are bad. It feels like no matter who we vote into office, the bottom line isn’t met and we still suffer. It can be overwhelming and daunting to imagine change on a nationwide or global scale. Instead, look within your own self for change. Just because the government is horrible with their money and bad at making financial decisions doesn’t mean you have to be. You can stop, right this moment, and move forward with a new focus on your money. Here is a simple set of guidelines to help add the discipline to your finances.

 

  • Avoid Credit — A lot of financial advisers will hiss and moan at this. However, the economy has not recovered. The dollar is down, and interest rates are on the rise again. Cut up your credit cards, pay off loans, and do not take anymore credit out. Forget about your credit score for awhile. Pay off your debt, starting with the smallest sum and keep going until you don’t owe a thing to anyone. Right now you want to get out of a debt and save up some cash. It might be wise to invest in long-term, high-value items as well. Purchase some pure silver and gold coins. Stock up your pantry with foods and supplies that have long shelf lives. Don’t follow in the government’s footsteps and continue increasing your debt. Stop borrowing, stop owing, and be self-contained. Save up for big purchases. If you can’t afford it, you don’t need it.
  • The Golden Rule — You need to go back to the basics of finances: spend less than you make. It’s that simple. If you over extend yourself, you set your whole financial picture up for failure. Another golden rule to follow is to save 10% of your income. Regardless of how much you make, every time a paycheck comes in, put 10% away and save it for an emergency.
  • Cut Wasteful Spending — There are huge lists of things you can do to save money. Just doing a Google search for “Ways to Save Money” will get you a hitback of 28 million pages. You can save money on your grocery bill, on the utilities, on car maintenance; any and every possible aspect of your life probably has a list to cut back spending. Cook at home and pack your lunch instead of eating out. Maintain your oil and tire pressure to lower the frequency of needing gasoline for your car. Purchase generic products at stores instead of name brands. Look for sales and coupons in weekly advertisements. Keep a budget and stick to it. Make a list of everything you spend for a month and then examine the list for areas you need improvement. Just by making several small changes in your spending, you can save hundreds –if not thousands– of dollars a year.
  • Avoid Life Changing Decisions — If you are in financial hardships, be honest with yourself. The economy isn’t getting better anytime soon. Now is not the time to have a child, adopt a pet, buy a house, or take a lease out on a car. Put those types of plans back on the shelf for a year or two. Give the country time to bounce back and make sure you get your own finances in a stable place. If you are already in debt, big life changing decisions will dig you in even deeper.
  • Make Substitutions — If you are used to constantly going out or spending money on things that would be considered wants and not needs, then it’s time to buckle down and make some tough decisions. There are lots of places out there with cheaper or even free ways to still continue doing the things you love. There are $1 movie theaters out there. Libraries are a great place to borrow movies, cds, and books for free. Museums are constantly doing free admission days. Public parks and hiking trails are generally free. If you are use to paying $100 a month for cable, try switching to a service like Netflix or Hulu. You can save hundreds a year while still getting all your favorite shows. There are substitutions out there for virtually anything. You just have to want to save money and be willing to put in a little time to do a bit of research.

         Financial discipline is your own responsibility. The government and big banks want you to make careless mistakes. They grin from ear to ear when people come in to request a big loan. The government wants you spending what you don’t have so they can take what you don’t own and use it against you. It’s a cat and mouse game and sadly the consumers are the mouse. This isn’t a Tom and Jerry cartoon either. In the current state of economic depression –let’s call it what it is, we’re all depressed– the government is pouncing on people in debt. Free yourself from the cycle. Relieve the stress of high spending expectations. You don’t have to have an 800 credit score in order to be happy. You don’t even need a credit card to be happy. By unlatching yourself from the chains of debt, you relinquish the fear of the unknown. You take away the strength of the fear of losing your livelihood. Empower yourself and your pocketbook by disciplining your finances from this point on. The government doesn’t have any bailouts for ordinary citizens. Don’t count on assistance and don’t follow the example of big corporations. If the government and big business knew what they were doing, the country wouldn’t be in dire straits. Best of luck and remember that anybody can change for the better. You just have to be willing to accept change.

Winter Auto Checklist


         We are just about midway through September. The end of the year causes time to fly by at an alarming rate. And although most of us don’t want to think about it, it doesn’t change the fact that winter is soon upon us. So today I’m going to leave you with a checklist of things you want to make sure you do with your vehicle in order to prepare for the bitter cold and, possibly, a stranded situation. Here is a checklist to prepare your car for Old Man Winter:

  • First, be sure to check your alternator and battery. I believe AutoZone will still do this type of test absolutely free of charge. Have them run a diagnostics and determine if everything is good to go. It won’t take but five minutes of your time. If there is a problem, correct now before you get into your car and have to go through the gut wrenching feeling of despair when you hear the silence of your engine not turning over. Also look around your battery for corrosion or rust. Clean with a steel wool scrub pad if any is spotted. If the damage is too severe, replace the cables.
  • Be sure your tires are in good working order. Check the tread and air pressure. Cold air can cause air to leak and under-filled tires can be dangerous in even clear conditions. Don’t get stuck out in the open with bad tires on an icy winter road. Speaking of the wheels, might be a good time to get your brakes checked out and okayed. And don’t forget your spare. Make sure it’s filled with air and in good repair.
  • Check your wiper blades and ensure they have a good tread too. If it’s heavily snowing or sleeting, you want to be able to keep visibility as high as you can.
  • Keep fuel in your car. This seems like a no brainer, but a lot of struggling families may only put enough fuel in the car to get them through the week. This is dangerous. If the gasoline gets too low in your vehicle it could freeze the entire line and then you are in for a world of expensive repairs. Keep your gas tank at least half full at all times. And try using some Heet water removal with every fill-up to help cut down on the risk of freezing fuel.
  • Another good idea is to maybe have your radiator flushed and filled. Most oil change places will do this for $40-$60. Get some fresh antifreeze in your car to make sure the engine is protected from the bitter cold.
  • Test your heater BEFORE it gets cold. Nothing worse than firing that heater up for the first time and getting cold air. Make sure your heater works, and works well. It could be the difference between life and death. Ensure that your defrost works in both the front and rear windshields.
  • Another cheap, helpful preparation you can do for yourself is replace your current windshield washer fluid with winterized fluid that will help melt snow off your windshield.
  • Check all exterior vehicle lights to make sure they are functioning properly. Replace any burnt out bulbs. If visibility gets bad, being able to see your lights might keep another driver from plowing into you.
  • Lastly, once winter hits and the snow falls, salt trucks will be out in full swing. Keep in mind that salt eats at your cars exterior. Be sure to get a car wash every once in awhile during the winter to avoid any damage to your car’s body.

         Next I will discuss some items you might want to consider keeping in your car in case of an emergency situation that leaves you hunkered down and isolated out in the cold with only your stalled car to protect you. There are some items that are essential to avoiding hypothermia, frostbite, exposure, or starvation. Here’s is a brief list of need-to-have items that no winterized car should be without. Add to it for your specific needs. You may also consider doubling or even tripling quantities if you live in a specific bad winter weather area.

  1. Warmth – This is by far the most important consideration for winter. Cold exposure can kill you faster than you might believe. Make sure your car has emergency blankets, a thermal blanket, and if you have room try to keep an insulated sleeping bag in the trunk. Get a thick, warm change of clothes and change of shoes to keep in a bag in your trunk. If you happen to be out and get soaked with freezing snow, a quick change of clothes could save your life. Keep an extra shirt, sweater, pants, underwear, thermal socks, sweater, gloves, hat, ski mask, scarf, and boots rolled up in a bag (or in the above mentioned sleeping bag). Keep an emergency candle, waterproof matches, a lighter, and a can of cooking fuel in the trunk. Get some hand warmers (these are insanely cheap at Walmart for a mere $.50 and can stay warm for up to five hours) and keep them in your glove box. Might also be a good idea to have a flint firestarter around (this should already be in your car’s normal emergency kit). Starting a fire might be your best chance of survival should you need to abandon your vehicle. A couple flares is always a good idea as well.
  2. Food and Water – You can go a pretty long time without food. Maybe even longer than normal in cold conditions because your body tends to slow down in the winter. But everybody needs water or we perish pretty darn quick. Keep some granola bars and candy in your glove box. Get a couple of MRE’s and bags of jerky and keep them stored away. If it stays really cold all winter, you could even throw a cooler in your trunk and store cold meats and other refrigerator foods inside it. Keep a small cooking pan in your car too in case you need to melt snow to drink (never eat cold snow for water as it uses too much energy for your body to reheat and digest it). Keep a couple gallon jugs of water or maybe a case of bottled water in your trunk.
  3. Flashlights and an emergency weather radio are a must to ensure your survive an emergency. Get a hand crank radio and maintain the batteries in your flashlight.
  4. I’d recommend getting a battery starter and keeping it in your trunk. They sell giant types that can be recharged at home and connect directly to your battery, or they sell smaller compact models that work through your cigarette lighter adapter. Be sure to take this out every few nights and recharge it. Also be sure to keep a handy pair of jumper cables in your trunk. These are relatively cheap and can save the day.
  5. Get a vehicle charger and spare battery for your cellphone. Keep your cellphone’s battery charge above 50% (treat it like your gas tank!) and be sure you always have it with you. If you are trapped under a snowbank it can be used to make emergency calls or help the authorities locate you. A dead cellphone never did anybody any good.
  6. Put some spare cash in your glove compartment. Maybe $100-$200. That can be your “just-in-case” fund. If you break down in a strange town, it might keep you functioning (hotel, food, taxi cab) until someone can come pick you up. Also keep a roll of quarters in your car for vending machines and pay phones.
  7. Keeping some cardboard and a bag of salt in your trunk can help get your wheels out of a rut. Without traction you could just spin over ice and never get any where. Better safe than sorry.
  8. Keep some de-icing spray and an ice scraper in your car. Can’t stress the importance of this enough.

         Prepare now, while the weather is warm and you can get everything stowed away without your fingers going numb. Being prepared may be the difference between staying warm and getting frozen. Just one simple thing tucked away can save your life, your limbs, and your car. Prepare yourself for the harsh reality that yes, it can happen to you. Plan ahead and come out with your livelihood intact.

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