If You Experience Cold Winters, You Probably Keep These Things In Your Car

I have two fairly new drivers in my family. My oldest son has been driving for about a year and a half. My middle son just got his license in June. Living in Pennsylvania, our winters can get pretty bad. Snow, ice, occasional blizzards, occasional subzero temps. Not only do I worry about them hitting a patch of ice but I also worry about them breaking down or getting stuck when it’s 10 degrees outside.

While at the grocery store I pick up a jug of kitty litter. I bring it home and tell my oldest son to put it in the trunk of his car. He looks at me funny. Then I realize he probably doesn’t understand the purpose. I also realize that for people that might not live in a colder climate, they might not do the odd things we do when prepping for winter. Whether you’re on your way to work at car dealership in Yonkers, NY, taking a drive in Duluth Minnesota, or going to the grocery store in the Laurel Highland of Pennsylvania, here are things people in colder climates keep in their vehicles and why.

Kitty Litter or Bags of Sand

Seriously, a lot of us that live in areas that get frigid winters keep either a bag of non-clumping kitty litter or bags of sand in the trunk of our vehicles. For those with only front or rear wheel drive it helps to weigh down the vehicle a little bit for traction. But mostly it’s used for when your vehicle get stuck in some snow or wheels are spinning on an icy patch. Pour some sand or some kitty litter in front and behind each tire. This helps to gain traction.

Emergency Shovel

Most of us have small shovels to throw in the trunk or back of our vehicle. A small metal one is best. If you look up emergency shovels you’ll see what they look like. This can be used to serve several different purposes. It’s not unheard of to park your car at work, have snow dump down while you’re working, and come out to your vehicle buried in snow. Having an emergency shovel makes life a little easier to dig your car out. A good metal shovel can also be useful when freezing rain happens to break up ice around tires or pry things out of the ice.

Blocks of Wood or Wooden Boards

I don’t personally do this but I know people that do. Some people keep blocks of wood or shorter wooden boards in their vehicle or truck. This one I didn’t really know about until recently. The blocks can be placed in front of the tire if stuck in a ditch, mud, or a snow drift. Wedge in front of the tire. Hopefully it lift your vehicle up enough to get out of where you’re stuck.

Emergency Blankets

My husband had actual emergency blankets from a survival kit in his vehicle. Some people just throw an extra fleece blanket or two in their car. The idea, if your car breaks down, it might be a while until help arrives in bad winter weather. You can’t keep your car running forever. If you’re low on gas this statement is very true. Emergency blankets could mean the different being ok until help gets their or going straight to the emergency room once help arrives do to hypothermia or frostbite.

Bottles of Water and Energy Food

Ok so maybe this one isn’t so different but it hits different when it’s 20 degrees outside and you’re broke down in the middle of nowhere. Foods that store for a while and might be considered energy food are helpful. Things like protein bars, nuts, or granola bars. Again if you’re gonna be there a while you grab your emergency blanket and have water and food for at least a little while.

Yes it’s true the water bottle can freeze but it will typically start to melt while driving hopefully having melted enough by the time a car breaks down. It’s also helpful if your car is overheating.

Vehicle De-Icer and/or Winter Washer Fluid

Vehicle De-Icer comes in handy a lot. De-icing windows, frozen locks, windshield wipers froze to the windshield, etc. They typically come in convenient spray cans or squirt bottles to make de-icing easier.

There is also special winter windshield washer fluid that can help melt snow and ice while cleaning your windshield. Some people will fill their washer reserve with the winter wash fluid and keep a container of vehicle de-icer but the washer fluid can also help de-ice locks in a pinch.

Closing Tips

Whether you live in a cold climate or not, have a car emergency kit is always a good idea. Most include things like emergency triangles, jumper cables, a couple basic tools, roadside flares, flashlight, etc. Some more elaborate ones will even have the emergency shovel I mentioned and air compressors. It’s a good idea to keep your phone charged and even carry a back-up battery or power bank with you in bad weather. Have the name of your mechanic or roadside service handy just in case. Always let someone know where you’re going and approximate time of return so if you do break down or get stuck there’s a better chance someone will know where you are to get you help.

These are just a few things I know people do to prep for winter driving emergencies. If you have idea I’d love to hear them!

This post is sponsored by Central Ave DCJR . This post also contains some affiliate links. I will earn a small commission from sales made through my posts.


Steps To Take When Looking for Scholarships for College

I have 4 kids. My oldest of which is heading to college in the fall. It’s been a whirlwind experience trying to navigate the whole application process for college and for scholarships. Even though he’s already been accepted and we put money down already we’re still having to take more steps that need completed before he actually starts. Guys he has new student orientation on the 19th! He still has to do some kinds of counseling session in regard to his student loans he qualified for. The whole pandemic thing made this process a little weirder too.

When I thought of the whole scholarship process I thought of it as filling out scholarship application after scholarship application hoping to get just one. Don’t get me wrong, there still plenty you can apply for on your own but the one he got was already applied for when we filled out the FAFSA. Let me explain.

Every year before starting college until college is finished you need to fill out the FAFSA. It’s important to fill it out completely and honestly. This helps schools make decisions on awarding scholarships and financial aid (among other things).

My son actually got a decent yearly scholarship from his college thanks to the FAFSA. As long as he keeps his GPA decent he’ll have the scholarship all 4 years.

My son’s high school also had their own form to fill out for scholarships specific to his school and the area. Colleges will sometimes offers scholarship awards to high school graduates for specific majors too. This was one form to fill out to determine scholarships for many.

In both of these scenarios only one form was needed to throw his name in the hat for many scholarship opportunities. These are the two major things to do . But, it doesn’t have to stop there. You can seek out and apply for individual scholarships as well. There are scholarship specific to majors, hobbies, religion, heritage, geographic area and more.

The David Ebrahimzadeh scholarship, for example, is a scholarship to recognize students seeking a degree in real estate! They’re accepting applications now. So don’t discount your career path in regard to scholarship opportunities.

Also local businesses, clubs, and even your own workplace may offer scholarships. My son applied for a scholarship through my husband’s place of work.

This post is sponsored by Diamond Links. Any opinions expressed are my own.


A Surprising Alternative to Education Funding

A good friend of mine is an insurance agent. She happened to mention one day about using whole life insurance to help pay for college. My ears perked up. Wait, what? I can use whole life insurance to help pay for college. But why would I used that instead of loans, 529 plan, or any of the other options out there? Turns out there’s a few reasons. I was eager to learn more and thought maybe my readers would like to know more too. So, I asked her to write up this article. I’m so glad she did.

Providing protection to your loved ones is primarily what whole life insurance is known for, but gone are the days when it’s used solely for the death benefit. One surprising way that life insurance can be used is
to pay for higher education costs, specifically as an alternative to using a 529 plan. If you’re unfamiliar with what a 529 plan is, it’s a tax-advantaged investment vehicle in the U.S. designed to encourage saving for future higher education expenses of a designated beneficiary. However, there are several disadvantages to a 529 plan. They vary from state to state and balances in a 529 plan may reduce your beneficiary’s ability to receive financial aid. Also, in the event that your beneficiary doesn’t want to
pursue higher education, the earnings may be subject to income tax plus a 10% penalty tax.

A whole life insurance policy can help you accomplish your college savings goals similar to a 529 plan and for some, an insurance policy may actually be a more suitable option because of the additional benefits, added flexibility, and guarantees not tied to the market. However, it’s best to use this option when the child is young, that way your policy can build up enough cash value to properly cover college expenses. You can also use what’s called an optional Paid-Up Additions (PUA) rider to significantly add
to the early build-up of cash values in your policy. While the two have similar contribution, accumulation, and distribution tax features, there are some differences between the two that might make whole life insurance a more suitable option for you:

Income tax-free college loans. You can use the accumulated cash value in your whole life policy to take out tax-free loans to help pay for college expenses without having to worry whether they’re qualified education expenses or not. If the time comes and your child decides not to pursue higher education, you could use this money for other things. For instance, you could use this money to help them purchase a vehicle, pay for living expenses if they choose to go out on their own, or pay for travel expenses so they could see the world.

Get guarantees without market volatility. A 529 plan likely has funds tied to market returns. While that can allow your college fund to grow over time, a down market could have the opposite effect. Imagine a downward spiraling market right before your child starts college. That would be a disaster. Alternatively, a whole life insurance policy provides you with guaranteed premiums along with a death benefit should the unthinkable happen and an accumulated cash value that won’t decrease based on the financial market performance.

Have options in case of disability. What if you became disabled while trying to build up savings for college education? No worries. With whole life, you have an optional waiver of premium rider to guarantee your college funding goals stay on track.

Benefit from savings that may not affect financial aid considerations. Unfortunately, a 529 plan is considered an asset by FAFSA. However, FAFSA financial aid guidelines currently don’t count your life insurance policy’s cash value as an asset, which means you could qualify for a higher
level of aid. (Note: Some colleges do view life insurance as an asset in determining financial aid).


Fund an education should the unthinkable happen. Life insurance provides an income tax-free benefit to your named beneficiary, which could in turn fund an education if they wished.

However, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. If you could afford it, a whole life policy could simply be used as a solution that supplements funds alongside your 529 plan contributions. If the grandparents are highly involved in your child’s life, you could even consider asking them if they’d like to start a 529 plan for your child (as currently 529 plans owned by grandparents or third parties generally do not affect
financial aid of beneficiaries under the current guidelines), while you start a whole life insurance policy. I encourage you to compare the two and talk to a financial professional to see if using whole life insurance is the right college savings solution for you.

If you’re ready to start with whole life insurance, get in touch with my friend Angie Bailey.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AFGBurgAngela/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/angela-angie-bailey-b1545025/


*Disclosure: This article is not intended to provide investment, insurance, or tax advice. Please consult
your own tax advisors regarding the comparative tax benefits of 529 plans, as well as the potential taxation of distributions from both 529 plans and whole life insurance policies


The Value Of Timber On Your Land: FREE Resource

It’s not something I’ve put a lot of thought into. In hindsight, maybe I should have. We hired some arborists to cut down a few dead trees for us a couple years ago. We did keep the fallen timber to use in our fire pit and wood burning furnace. So, I guess we didn’t waste it. But we only live on about an acre. I know a number of people around us have acres of land with lots of trees or fallen timber.

Have you ever wondered about the value of the timber on your land? Penn State Extension has released the “Value of Standing Timber” publication. It helps land owners and loggers learn the economic value of standing timber and how it’s determined.

This 24-page publication describes methods for estimating timber volumes and values in a simple, easy to understand, manner. It will also help landowners and loggers understand how the value of timber is determined and, in turn, provide them with increased opportunities for obtaining a fair market price when selling timber, said Dave Jackson, extension forester and publication co-author.

The publication is available as a free downloadable PDF; printed copies are available for purchase. To learn more, visit https://extension.psu.edu/valuing-standing-timber or call 877-345-0691

I looked over this myself. It’s highly informative with helpful illustrations and tables. It covers a number of steps to take to prepare you for getting a good value for your standing timber. As well as information about how it’s valued at more. Education is the best way to make sure you’re not taken advantage of!

This is a great time to start preparing wood for the winter too. It needs to dry out for several weeks to a couple months to make good firewood. I know in my area, there are always people looking for firewood for small things like fire pits to necessities like heating their homes.

If you own wooded acreage in my area another way to make money off your land is to let hunters pay to hunt on your land. Hunter find it appealing as there is exclusivity to it. The land isn’t over-hunted.

About Penn State Extension

Penn State Extension is dedicated to translating scientific research into real-world applications to drive progress. In support of Penn State’s land-grant mission, extension programs serve individuals, businesses and communities, while promoting a vibrant food and fiber system, a clean environment, and a healthier population in Pennsylvania and beyond. With support from federal, state and county governments, the organization has a tradition of bringing unbiased information and support to the citizens of Pennsylvania for more than 100 years.


It’s a Good Time To Invest With Webull

The markets be a little scary lately. Watching the the market is like watching a rollercoaster. But this can be a great time to invest. With stocks lower than normal you can grab the stock you’ve been thinking about but haven’t quite pulled the trigger on.

Webull makes it easy to invest. Even giving you free stock when you start investing. In this way, you can get even more bang for your buck. How much free stock? Anywhere from $12 and up to $1400 in free stock! That’s not a bad deal right?

Why Webull (other than the free stock of course)? Webull offers:

  • $0 Commission and $0 Minimum Deposit
  • Free Real Time Quotes
  • Multiplatform Accessibility
  • Full Extended Hours Trading (Full Pre-Market 4:30 am – 9:30 AM ET and Full after hours 4:00 PM – 8 PM ET)
  • 24/7 online help
  • Powerful Charting Tools with 44 technical indicators as well as 12 charting tools designed to help you analyze trends

I know it can be a little intimidating to start investing but Webull gives you the tools you need to learn and invest wisely. Start investing and get your free stock today!

This post does contain affiliate links. I will get a small commission from sales made through my links.