5 Expensive Winter Must-Haves Worth the Investment
The whole point of making smart financial choices is that it frees up money to invest in important things. These winter essentials can make a huge difference to your health, safety, and general quality of life.
1. Powered snow shovel or snow thrower
If you have a driveway of any significant size, get a powered snow-moving device of some kind. Seriously. Your back will thank you.
They make some truly fantastic electric snow shovels that’ll tackle smaller drives and walkways. Even on larger areas, they’re still much faster than a manual shovel. You can find units of various battery sizes, some fairly inexpensive, but get the largest battery you can afford. It’ll be worth it when you don’t have to recharge in the middle of the job.
Folks with a larger area to clean can invest in a gas-powered snow thrower. (Electric ones just aren’t there yet.) Maintained well, they can last you for many years.
2. Winter tires
Sure, if you’re in an area with mild winters and only drive in snow a few times a year, a good set of all-season tires will probably do the job. But if you live somewhere with long, snowy winters, switching to proper winter tires can be a huge safety upgrade.
Tests show that winter tires outperform the majority of all-season and all-terrain tires. They not only help you stop better on ice and snow, but they can stop you from spinning out when you take off, as well.
Buying winter tires also means swapping your tires twice a year, and storing your off-season tires. Remember to include those costs in your budget.
A reliable generator is somewhere between a luxury and a requirement, depending on where you live. If you’re in a very cold climate that’s prone to power outages, a generator that can run your heating and cooking appliances could quite literally save your life.
Even in areas with more reliable power, a generator can save the day in an emergency.
Options — and price points — are varied. You can find “generators” that are basically really big electric power banks; these will charge phones, and maybe run some fans or a mini fridge for a few hours. All the way up to gas or solar-powered whole-house generators that can power pretty much everything.
4. Quality (waterproof) winter boots
Winter boots are the epitome of the “boots theory,” which states that buying cheap boots is more expensive in the long run than investing in quality boots. Cheap boots break down quickly and need to be replaced often. Quality boots, well maintained, will last decades.
Moreover, quality boots that fit your feet are better for your foot health (and back and knees). They’ll keep your feet warmer and drier, as well as offer better support.
5. A well-made jacket
Everything I said above about boots? That’s all true about a good jacket, too. Quality jackets last longer, function better, and even tend to be more attractive. Win win win.
Finding deals on winter gear
There is almost always a way to save on gear. Here are just a few to consider.
Whether you have a membership or not, it can be well worth it to check wholesale clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club. Some of their deals are good enough to pay for the membership and then some. They also have fantastic return policies.
While my previous point stands, I want to point out that you shouldn’t assume Costco is the cheapest place to make a purchase. And that goes for every other retailer, too.
No retailer is the cheapest every time. No matter what you’re purchasing, always check prices at multiple retailers to ensure you’re really getting a deal.
Rewards credit cards
There are three different ways I use rewards cards to save on big purchases:
- Purchase rewards: I use cards with bonus rewards for every purchase I can, and I can usually get at least 3% to 5% cash back (or equivalent). For instance, if I’m splurging on winter boots at a department store, I choose a card that offers “department stores” as a bonus category.
- Welcome bonuses: If I’m making a four-figure purchase, I open a new credit card first. All other rewards aside, the welcome bonus for a new card can easily be worth $300 or more in and of itself.
- Issuer portals: Many card issuers offer discount portals with deals from partner retailers. I always check my offers before making big purchases to see if I can get extra rewards or a discount. (Just poke around your bank app for something with “offers” in the name, like Amex Offers, Chase Offers, or Merchant Offers.
If you don’t need a particular piece of gear right away, the best thing you can do to find steals is wait until the season is (mostly) over. Most retailers will put winter gear on sale toward the end of the season, and you can find some fantastic discounts.
The downside? Selection. Not everything will be discounted — some is simply stored until next year — and what is marked down will likely sell quickly. If there’s a certain model or brand you’re after, keep a close eye on prices so you can strike when the price is right.
I’m a big fan of cutting costs where I can, but I also recognize that some items are worth that big investment. Gear that is going to improve your safety and quality of life is worth it.
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