As I write this, it has finally stopped raining…. for the moment. It’s the 18th of the month and we have officially received 2.6 inches of rain so far. I think it is safe to say that the vast majority of that has come in the last two days. I will admit, I like a rainy day. It tends to cool things off, the humidity usually goes down afterwards, and everything is so refreshed. It even smells fresh after a lot of rain. That’s great and all, but this blog is, after all, about personal finance. So why talk about the rain?
Well, first of all, it’s what we do in South Dakota. It’s normal to us, but if you travel or talk to someone from somewhere else, we talk about the weather A LOT here. It’s just what we do.
Second, and more importantly in this context, rain can have a direct affect on our finances. It’s more than an old wives’ tail about rain on your wedding day. Most of us in the state aren’t farmers and aren’t directly dependent on the rain for our very income. But rain can and does directly impact our personal finances.
Below are ways a rainy day can financially impact all of us and things you may need to address in your own life.
A Pool In Your Basement – Right now our soil is dry enough that it can absorb an inch or more of rain. But get more than that or get rain in the spring when the snow has just melted and you may end up with an indoor pool in your basement. You have insurance, right? So what is your deductible at? Do you have extra coverage in case it is the sump pump’s fault? Did you even know that many basic insurance policies don’t cover sump pump failure? But you can get extra insurance to cover that, often at a very reasonable price.
While sometimes it’s just going to happen, this is one that can be prevented fairly easily. Before it rains, make sure your sump pump is working. Even dump a bucket of water in the sump hole every once in a while just to check it out. Also, check your gutters outside. Their job is to collect the water from your roof and move it away from the house. If they are clogged or don’t have long enough downspouts at the bottom, they will actually act as a funnel, directing the water INTO the basement.
Slick Road Ahead – As I drove into work this morning, I noticed a highway patrolman stopped on the shoulder of the highway with their lights flashing. A van had apparently not made the curve and ended up in the median. A large amount of water on the road, a curve, highway speeds – my guess is hydroplaning. In the right conditions, your tires may actually be floating on top of the water on the road causing it to be as slippery as ice.
Some solutions for this are simple – SLOW DOWN. You should also check your tires as those little grooves are essential for moving water out from under your tires, keeping you in contact with the much-less-slippery pavement. If your rubber is close to bald, expect to slide. As with your homeowner’s insurance, this is also a good reason to check your auto insurance. What’s your deductible that you need to have in savings? Will it cover a tow truck should you end up in the ditch? What if the ditch is filled with water? Are you covered against flood damage?
A Gardener’s Dream – While a ground over-saturated with water is bad news for basements, ground that is too dry can also be a nightmare for our lawns and landscaping. But not to worry, I have a hose and sprinkler. Fortunately we aren’t facing the drought conditions here that other parts of the country are facing. But water still costs money if I want to keep my grass and other plants alive and thriving through the dry times. A good rain will actually save you money in this respect as you can leave your sprinklers off. If you have automatic sprinklers, feel free to shut those off as well when it rains.
Rainy Day Entertainment – We as humans do not typically like to be bored. We need something to do. We need to be stimulated. And when we can’t be outside, we will still find something to do. Unfortunately, when that something to do involves being inside somewhere else, it also usually involves paying. Whether you are paying for a movie ticket, ‘just browsing’ at the mall, or attending a local small-venue concert, it’s probably going to cost you. While these aren’t necessarily bad things to do, just be aware of the real cost of entertaining yourself this way.
I also want to give a little shout-out to mental health awareness here as well. It’s a fact that rainy weather can increase the symptoms of depression. For many, spending money becomes a form of self-medicating that can have a variety of negative consequences. While avoiding the real cause of their mental health issues, individuals can also quickly slide down the slippery slope of a shopping addiction, the number one addiction in our country. Please be aware of what you are doing (or spending) and the reason you find yourself doing it.
Air It Out – As mentioned above, a good rain storm will often drop the temperatures and humidity. If you have had the air conditioner running, consider shutting it off. Open the windows and let the atmosphere cool your home. I do love the fresh air in the house, but I also love the lower electricity bill when I don’t have the A/C running 24/7. Personally, I even sleep better with the fresh air.
I suppose I could go on with other impacts of a rainy day, but I think you get the point. Like everything else, a rainy day has its up side and down side. Next time you see the clouds rolling in, don’t just duck and cover. Make sure you are ready to reduce the negative impacts and take advantage of the positives.
If a rainy day or two has already gotten you into trouble, you are not alone. The counselors at the Center For Financial Resources are here to help you get financial troubles straightened out so that you can enjoy the sunshine when it comes out again. You can visit our website or call 605-330-2700 to schedule an appointment.
Oh look, it’s raining again….. oh well. I won’t have to water the flowers tonight!
written by Breck Miller
images courtesy freedigitalphotos.net