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

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Can bad weather ruin your finances?


Main 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 in bad weather, and you could also face higher utility bills.

In some parts of the US, people can make it through winter without ever seeing a snowflake. But in other parts of the country, winter storms can be a common, unwanted phenomenon.

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

1. Lost time at work

If a winter storm makes your local roads impassable, you may have no choice but to stay home from work for a day or more. But if you don’t have the type of work that can be done from home, missing work time can mean lost 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 to do work from home If a winter storm knocks out the power, you may not be able to do much or anything at all. And if you’re self-employed, it can 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. This can help make missing income easier to deal with.

And if you’re self-employed, build some downtime into your schedule so that a day or two of missed work doesn’t hurt your finances. In the meantime, be careful about the deadlines you commit to in the winter if you live in an area prone to severe weather. You don’t want to permanently alienate customers due to storm-related disruptions.

2. Spoiled food

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

Now, the answer here is not to never buy perishables, that’s not smart. But it can pay to invest in a portable generator that lets you keep your fridge running when the power goes out. That way you can avoid spilling its contents.

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

3. Higher utility bills

You may feel the need to turn up the heat when there’s a howling winter storm outside. But it can lead to higher utility bills. And that’s something you’ll want to budget for.

You can also talk to your utility provider about entering into 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 can pay something every month in the middle of the year.

Winter storms can be more than just a hassle, they can take a financial toll on you. It is important to prepare for this and do everything possible to minimize losses.

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