Finance

3 ways winter storms could cost you – and how to prepare

A mother wraps a blanket around her young daughter's shoulders.

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Could bad weather threaten your finances?


Key points

  • In some parts of the country, winter can mean weeks of harsh weather.
  • While winter storms can be inconvenient, they can also be costly in some cases.
  • You could lose money if you can’t get to work in bad weather, and you could face higher utility bills.

People in certain parts of the US can go through the winter without seeing a snowflake. But in other parts of the country, winter storms can be a regular, unwanted occurrence.

Not only can these storms be inconvenient (think having to take time out of your work day to dig out your car), but in many cases they can also be expensive. Here are some of the ways you can lose money due to a winter storm – and how to prevent it from happening.

1. Lost working time

If a winter storm makes your local roads impassable, you may have no choice but to stay home for a day or more. But if you don’t have a job that can be done from home, then missing work hours can mean lost wages. And if you’re already living paycheck to paycheck with no money in your savings account, that’s a problem.

In the meantime, let’s tell you do Work from home. If a winter storm knocks out power, you may not be able to do much or anything. And if you’re self-employed, it could also mean a temporary but significant loss of income.

That’s why it’s important to do everything you can to build an emergency fund. This could help to cope with the lack of income.

And if you’re self-employed, build some downtime into your schedule so that a day or two of missed work doesn’t derail your finances. At the same time, be mindful of the deadlines you commit to during the winter if you live somewhere prone to severe weather. You don’t want to end up alienating customers due to storm-related outages.

2. Spoiled food

Winter storms can cause power outages. And that in turn could mean you have to throw out the contents of your freezer and fridge.

Now, the answer here is not to never buy perishables – that’s not sensible. But it could pay to invest in a portable generator that keeps your fridge running when the power goes out. That way you can avoid having to dump its contents.

Of course, you will need to be careful when using a portable generator. This means you need to make sure it has a way to vent the exhaust fumes and be careful about extension cords.

3. Higher utility bills

You may feel the need to turn up the heat when a winter storm is howling outside. But that could result in higher utility bills. And that’s something you’ll want to budget for.

You can also talk to your utility provider about getting a payment plan that allows you to spread your payments more evenly throughout the year. That way, instead of paying $200 a month in the spring and $800 a month in the winter, you might be paying something in the middle of each month of the year.

Winter storms can be more than just a nuisance—they can take a financial toll. It’s important to prepare for it and do everything you can to minimize your losses.

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