How to financially prepare for the winter

Fri, 11/26/2021 - 8:00pm

As the temperatures dip below freezing and the last leaves fall off the trees, winter creeps up again on Mainers each November.

Winter in Maine covers nearly five months of the year and with that comes additional financial costs. Winter is by many measures an expensive season filled with additional heating costs, fuel costs, and other expenses like gift giving for the holiday season.

A report released last month from the U.S. Energy Information Administration warned, “We expect that households across the United States will spend more on energy this winter compared with the past several winters because of these higher energy prices and we predict a slightly colder winter than last year in much of the United States.”

Increased demand, supply shortages, and other constraints are pushing up prices of natural gas, fuel, oil, and other commodities across the U.S., but especially along the North East. Take a look at the report to see the expected increases in heating costs this winter.

A variety of programs help low-income families afford the high costs of heating your home during the winter.

CMP has an excellent list of resources available, and many utility providers directly offer programs to customers to help support low-income households. Other great programs include the Maine Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and 211 Maine, which offers a variety of other helpful services.

While many residents in Maine heat their homes with natural gas, propane, and oil some households still use wood. The Waldo County Woodshed is another great support to help those who need assistance affording wood to heat their homes. If you’re in a stable financial position one of the best gifts you can give during the holiday season is the ability for others to stay warm.

In addition to heating costs, the winter season brings other expenses like purchasing gifts. One way to combat this is through a Christmas/Holiday Club Savings Account. These types of savings accounts open up in the fall and they can help you save for the gift giving-season.

Throughout the year, the account will pull a set amount of money from your savings account into this special savings account monthly. Then, it opens up in the fall so that you can spend your set aside money on gifts. This is a good way to passively save for the gift season and make sure you do not fall short in winter. Both Bangor Savings Bank and Camden National Bank offer Holiday Club accounts.

Winter isn’t everyone’s favorite season but it doesn’t have to cause additional financial stress. With proper planning and preparation you can be ready to face Winter and focus on enjoying the beauty of the outdoors.

Max Provencher is a senior at Searsport District High School. He currently serves as the Chapter President and founding member of the Searsport Future Business Leaders of America, Vice President of Maine FBLA, and serves as the FBLA National Treasurer. He helps to promote business education and financial literacy to over 200,000 members across the globe. Max is an avid investor in stocks and bonds, and works hard to promote financial literacy in schools as a member of the Maine DOE Student Cabinet. In his spare time he enjoys playing golf and running with his Airedale terrier, Ginger.

Ellis Braga is a senior at Searsport District High School. He is a Life Scout, and Eagle Scout Candidate. He is a member of the Amica Chapter of the National Honor Society. Ellis currently serves on Searsport District High School’s Student Council and is a member as well as chapter representative of Searsport District FBLA. He is an apprentice lobsterman and works at the local marina. Ellis enjoys woodworking, making knives, sailing, and hunting in his spare time.