If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know that I live in Minnesota – the land of 10,000 lakes…and 10,000 blizzards.  Minnesota is also the. coldest. place. on. Earth.

No, really.

The Thrillist recently ranked Minnesota as the #1 worst state to live in based on how miserable its winters are.  Every year, there are at least a few days when Minnesota is LITERALLY the coldest place on Earth.  That’s right – we even beat out ANTARCTICA every once in a while.

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And sometimes we wake up to find our cars buried underneath 22 inches of snow.

My car, circa 2011.

Now that I’ve convinced everyone who hasn’t been to Minnesota to never come here (MN is great, really…just don’t visit during the winter), let’s talk about how to deal with frigid temps for those of us who have the misfortune of living in a frozen tundra.

I drive a 17 year old car, so I’m always aware of the very real possibility that my car could break down on a day when it’s 20 below zero out (with a wind chill of -40).  Luckily, my car is surprisingly reliable for its age, but it’s better safe than sorry.

Here are the items I keep in the car (or in the house) in case of a winter emergency.

Juice Box

No, I’m not talking about a little box filled with apple juice.  I’m talking about a portable charger.  Many cars have cigarette lighters that can be used with car chargers to charge cell phones, but my lighter doesn’t work (my car is 17 years old after all).

Instead, I use a juice box to charge my phone during road trips.  I always make sure my phone is fully charged every time I drive anywhere in the winter.

Ice Scraper

I think this one is pretty self-explanatory…it’s kind of important to be able to see out of your car windows when you’re driving.  It’s terrifying to drive when you can barely see out of your windows…as anyone who has ever driven during an ice storm can attest to.

I make sure to always get a sturdy ice scraper – I’ve had a couple in the past that broke when I was trying to scrape off particularly thick ice.

Windshield Covers

Once I discovered windshield covers, it made my morning routine SO much easier.  I no longer have to spend 20 minutes scraping ridiculously thick ice off of my car windows.  One time, it was so bad I had to use a hair dryer on my car to melt the ice…no joke.

Instead, I now spend a couple minutes putting my covers on, and in the morning, all I have to do is the covers off and I’m ready to go.

Sun Shields

Sun shields might seem like an odd thing to use in the winter.  My car does this fun thing where the windows freeze over on the INSIDE all the time.

Getting ice off of the inside of windows is particularly annoying because ice scrapers aren’t designed to do this.  Anyway, if I put sun shields up, this (usually) keeps the inside of the windows from freezing and I’m good to go the next day!


When it’s -20 degrees outside, gloves just aren’t going to get the job done.  Mittens keep your fingers together which allows each finger to warm the other.  Mittens also tend to have a smaller surface area than gloves, which reduces heat loss.

If you don’t have mittens, another way to warm up your hands is to use hand warmers -little packets you put in your gloves.  These are safe, odorless, and can provide heat for several hours.

A Hat + Earmuffs

In subzero temps, my ears feel cold when I wear a hat, but the top of my head gets too cold if I wear earmuffs.  My solution?  Wear both!  I’m sure I look ridiculous, but at least I’m warm(er).

A Full Tank

On particularly cold days, it’s important to make sure your gas tank is at least halfway full.  When you don’t have much gas in the tank, it’s possible for the gas to freeze and this can lead to costly repairs.

A Warm Blanket

I always keep a warm blanket in my car during the winter in case my car breaks down.  Extreme temperatures can cause frostbite to occur within minutes – with a wind chill of -15, frostbite can occur within a half hour and when the wind chill dips below -60, frostbite is possible in just a few minutes.

Vitamin D Supplements

I recently found out that I have a vitamin D deficiency, so I started taking a daily supplement.  Vitamin D isn’t in very many foods, so we get it primarily from exposure to the sun.  It’s not surprising that vitamin D deficiencies are quite common in cold climates.

Some people show no symptoms, while others may experience depression, muscle aches, an upset stomach, and/or chronic fatigue.  A vitamin D deficiency can lead to serious health problems over time.  If you suspect your vitamin D is low, ask your doctor about it – you can get it checked with a simple, quick blood test.


I have chronic, year-round sinus problems.  For some people, allergies clear up in the winter…for me, my sinus issues get worse in the winter thanks to the dry air.  My humidifier is the only thing I’ve ever found that seems to help.

What items do you think are must-haves during the winter?


Other stuff you might like:

My Personal Finance “Aha” Moment
How We’re Preparing Financially for a Pug Puppy
Cheap & Fun Winter Activities to Beat the Winter Blues
9 Ways to Get Free Yoga Classes

Personal Finance Resources:

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
YOLO: The Roadmap to Financial Wellness and a Purposeful Life by Jason Vitug
Smart Women Finish Rich by David Bach
It’s Only Money and It Does Grow on Trees by Cara MacMillan

Blogging Resources:

How to Blog for Profit Without Selling Your Soul by Ruth Soukup
365 Blog Topic Ideas for the Lifestyle Blogger Who Has Nothing to Write About by Dana Fox
Secrets to Blogging Your Way to a Six Figure Income by ProBlogger