Winter is Coming – Are You Prepared?
One bright day in late autumn a family of Ants were bustling about in the warm sunshine, drying out the grain they had stored up during the summer, when a starving Grasshopper, his fiddle under his arm, came up and humbly begged for a bite to eat.
“What! Cried the Ants in surprise, “haven’t you stored anything away for the winter? What in the world were you doing all summer?”
“I didn’t have time to store up any food,” whined the Grasshopper; “I was so busy making music that before I knew it the summer was gone.”
The Ants shrugged their shoulders in disgust.
“Making music, were you?” they cried. “Very well; now dance!” And they turned their backs on the Grasshopper and went on with their work.
There’s a time for work and a time for play.
<cite>– Aesops Fables, The Ants & The Grasshopper</cite>
I may not agree with the notion of scoffing at a fellow traveler who is starving, but the tale of the Ants and Grasshopper serves as a reminder to make sure we are preparing ourselves for lean times as winter is bearing down upon us.
One Tough Year
With COVID-19 wreaking havoc across the globe over a million people have lost their lives, and many more have lost their livelihoods. In my lifetime I can’t recall another period where we had so little control or ability to influence the broader economic circumstances without jeopardizing our health. While we have had a rough go of it so far, we still aren’t out of the woods. Many small businesses are on the verge of collapse and a number of families are struggling to get by. Things may indeed get worse before they get better.
When It Rains It Pours
As life has taught me over and over again, bad things happen all at once. For example, this year my wife and I started out the new year by buying our first house. I have to say it has been a great blessing but the timing of closing on the house only two months before the pandemic took off in the U.S. put us on edge. You see we had already committed a sizable amount of money to a contractor to do some remodeling and painting just as the future of everyone’s jobs were put into question.
As luck would have it the contractor couldn’t do any work on the house due to a statewide emergency order for all unessential work to cease while we got a handle on the virus. On the one hand, that meant we didn’t need to come up with the other half of the money we would need to pay the contractor as soon because he wasn’t going to be finishing, much less starting, anytime soon. On the other hand, that meant we had handed over thousands of dollars for someone to do work which they legally could not do.
As things eased up over the summer the contractor was able to start work again. We decided to stay at a family member’s house while the contractor did the work. We thought this would help us avoid distractions and COVID-19 exposure.
Within three days of the contractor beginning work on our house he found mold in one of the walls. Of course this would happen. Another few thousand dollars evaporating overnight. My cousin had warned me, “Phill whatever cost they give you and timeline they tell you, just multiply it by three. Once you open up the walls nobody knows what they will find.” Sure enough he was right. It was a hit but at least we had anticipated this one. We weren’t sure what would cost more but we thought certainly something would. And if it stopped there it would have been bad enough but it never really does stop there, does it?
Maybe a week later after our vigilant contractor discovered the mold, our dog, our lovely happy carefree dog, was outside when an evil no good squirrel and her crossed paths. As our wonderful pup does, she sprinted after the squirrel. But then it happened. Her not quite so spry, I’ve had one too many good days, knee decided to give way and her ligament in her knee tore. All at once she let out a cry that immediately told us she was hurt in a serious way. She had tore her CCL, it is similar to a human’s ACL.
It took us two months and some change before we could get her in for a consultation and surgery. With COVID-19 on the loose many of the graduate students who help out with animal surgeries are not considered essential and therefore not allowed to work. That combined with an up swelling in new animal owners in need of companionship during the pandemic meant she had to wait. She is on the mend now after surgery but we have three more months of stretching, exercising and constant vigilance to make sure she recovers well.
The bill for Lima’s surgery and the last second payment for our contractor ended up being due at nearly the same time. When it rains, it pours.
Preparing For Winter
One of my favorite shows in the past few years was Game of Thrones. As they would remark all too often in Winterfell, “winter is coming.” A warning and a reminder to each other not to become complacent because more hard times were certainly on the way. The lesson is as old as time, something bad is bound to happen and we need to prepare for hard times.
My wife and I were lucky, neither of us lost our jobs or got sick. That went a long way to ensure we made it through this far. We were also prepared financially because we are savers. We set aside a certain amount of money every paycheck to make sure that when the unexpected happens we can confront it. It is what allowed us to opt for the surgery for our dog Lima and spend extra for the mold mitigation. Without having the savings we may have needed to allow Lima’s leg to go untreated or live with the mold.
If you have a hard time setting aside money checkout Automate Your Way To Riches to learn how I get it done.
I don’t know what fate has in store for us in the coming months. What I do know is that we will keep on saving as we go because one thing is for sure – winter is coming.
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