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Old Man Winter is knocking at your door. Are you ready for him?
After last year’s winter storm, anyone living in Texas knows how cruel and unpredictable the season can be. And unfortunately, you may not get a reprieve this winter. The Farmer’s Almanac predicts a cold, harsh winter for several states, with another potential deep freeze heading towards Texas.
Although you may not foresee every storm or power outage, you can prepare your home and finances for these potential emergencies in advance. Here’s how.
Start with an Emergency Fund
Saving for a snowy day is critical to your emergency preparedness — even in Texas!
These savings act as a financial safety net, ready to catch you if your budget falls apart. You can tap into these reserves if you have to deal with something unexpected that you can’t afford with the cash in your pocket.
Experts say an emergency fund should hold up to six months of living expenses to be an effective defense against the unexpected.
What if Your Emergency Fund Falls Apart?
If you run into trouble before you hit this target, don’t panic. There are other safety nets available.
If you’re just shy of what you need, you can try for an installment loan for help. Most online installment loans in Texas come with fixed payments spread out over multiple weeks or even months. This schedule gives you more time to repay what you owe, so you don’t have to worry about paying everything back in one lump sum.
An installment loan might be an option if you’re dealing with a one-off emergency expense, like an urgent furnace repair. But they aren’t ideal for ongoing expenses.
If you need help paying utility bills, see if you qualify for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). This is a federally funded program that may help you with energy costs.
You can also explore this list of Community Assistance Agencies (CEAP) to see if you can get help with your bills this way.
What Unexpected Expenses Are Common in Winter?
Here are some things you should think about this season to help you prepare yourself financially.
- Large furnace maintenance: These machines tend to last 15–20 years. The older it is, the more energy it may use.
- Heat pump cleaning: If you have a heat pump, it can collect a lot of dirt that interferes with its performance. Cleaning it can get it ready for the season, and you’ll notice if there’s a leak or compressor problem during this maintenance.
- Broken pipes and leaks: Freezing temperatures put your pipes at risk. If water freezes inside the pipes, the ice could potentially burst through the pipe and cause a leak. You can insulate exposed pipes and follow these tips to prevent such an emergency.
- A backup generator: The power grid being what it is in Texas, it’s a good idea to invest in a backup generator to prevent frozen pipes.
- Car maintenance: Giving your vehicle a tune-up may prepare it for a tough winter driving season. If you didn’t budget for unexpected repairs, an installment loan may help cover the difference.
Knowing the unexpected can happen is half the battle. With this in mind, you can prepare your finances for when Old Man Winter knocks.