Winter is Coming: Is Your Plan in Place?
Yes, I know: winter is coming, but not for awhile. I’ll bet you were expecting some sort of July 4th post, a post about fireworks, an allusion to Game of Thrones, or some other fun summer festivities guideline. In the Frugal Farmer family, however, we’ve got winter on our minds.
It May Only Be July, But Winter Is Coming
For those of you who follow our blog, you probably already know this story, but for those who don’t, here’s why we’re planning for winter in July. We live in the Upper Midwest, not too terribly far from the Canadian border. The dreaded Polar Vortex, which, in our neck of the woods, was like winter on steroids, hit us and hit us hard. Our heating bills were double and triple what they normally would’ve been, and our super tight budget was seriously struggling for air by the time January and February came around.
The worst part of it was this: we had a wood-burning stove sitting nicely in our living room: a stove that we never hooked up in the summer time because we didn’t want to spend the money. Ouch. Once winter came, we were seriously regretting the fact that we hadn’t thought long-term about that stove installation expense.
That mistake – the mistake of denying that winter is coming – cost us a nice wad of cash, in the thousands of dollars, in excess heating bills due to extra cold weather and jacked up propane and heating costs. This is money we wouldn’t have had to spend had we been thinking long-term.
The Value of a Long-Term Plan
The same thing happens to many individuals and families, only in different ways. They don’t look far enough ahead to realize that winter is coming, and don’t plan accordingly for the extra expenses. Or they don’t look far enough ahead to realize that retirement age is drawing near, and they don’t save adequately – or at all – for retirement.
Or they don’t look far enough ahead to think about how their goals and dreams might change in the future, so they continue to live paycheck to paycheck, limiting their ability to change things in life because of a lack of money and are therefore stuck at a job they hate because they can’t afford to take a pay cut.
Now’s the Time to Think About Winter
In order to avoid a repeat of last winter’s financial disaster, we are putting a few protective measures in place just in case we get hit with another brutal winter. First, we’re getting that wood stove installed. Second, we’re filling our propane tanks to the brim this summer while prices are lower. Third, we’re chopping and stacking lots of wood to heat the house. Fourth, we’re stocking up on lots of necessity items, such as non-perishable foods, toiletries and pet supplies, in the summer while expenses are low so that we don’t have to buy them in the winter.
Everyone has a ‘winter,’ even those who live in places that are temperate all year round. So, what’s your “winter?” Is it crazy-high heating bills? Is it an anorexic retirement account? Is it a massive amount of debt that you know will need to be dealt with one day? Whatever it is, I encourage you to plan accordingly, starting today.
Do you engage in long-range planning? Have you ever encountered a situation where you didn’t plan ahead and ended up paying the price? Looking back, when is a time that you chose not to spend money on something upfront that ultimately would have saved you more money in the long run if you had just spent the cost to be better prepared?
Photo courtesy of: Paul Fosselman