3 Ways Winter Storms Could Cost You Money and How to Prepare

3 Ways Winter Storms Could Cost You Money and How to Prepare

Mother wrapping a blanket around her daughter's shoulders.

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Could a spell of bad weather upset your finances?


Key points

  • In some parts of the country, winter can mean weeks of brutal 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 when the weather is bad, and you may also face higher utility bills.

People in certain parts of the US can go through the winter without ever seeing a flake of snow. But in other parts of the country, winter storms can be a regular and unwanted event.

These storms can not only be inconvenient (think about having to take time out of your workday to dig out your car), but in many cases, they can also be expensive. Here are some of the ways you could lose money due to a winter storm and how to prevent that from happening.

1. Lost work time

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

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

That’s why it’s important to do what you can to build an emergency fund. That could help make missing income easier to manage.

And if you’re self-employed, work some downtime into your schedule so a day or two of missed work doesn’t wreck your finances. At the same time, keep in mind the deadlines you commit to during the winter if you live somewhere susceptible to inclement weather. You don’t want to end up alienating customers because of storm-related outages.

2. Bad food

Winter storms can cause power outages. And that, in turn, could mean having to throw out the contents of your freezer and refrigerator.

Now the answer here is never to buy perishable food, that is unreasonable. But it might be worth investing in a portable generator that allows you to keep your fridge running when the power goes out. That way, you can avoid having to dump your content.

Of course, you will need to be careful when using a portable generator. That means making sure you have a way to vent the exhaust, and being careful around extension cords.

3. Higher utility bills

You may feel the need to crank up the heat when there’s a winter storm 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 could pay something in the middle of each month of the year.

Winter storms can be more than just a nuisance – they can take a financial hit. It’s important to prepare for that and do what you can to minimize your losses.

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