How Surviving Wisconsin Winters is Like Managing Your Money

How Surviving Wisconsin Winters is Like Managing Your Money

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Wisconsin is a special place for Mother Nature. She provides us with four wonderful seasons throughout the year. Wisconsinites are fortunate to be able to experience the fresh new start of spring, the long warm days of summer, and beautiful colors of fall. Even winter has its own standard for beauty like freshly fallen snow, and activities like hockey, snowmobiling, skiing and snowshoeing. However, every now and then, Mother Nature likes to remind Wisconsinites that Wisconsin, is located 2,965 miles from the equator. And Canada is only a stone’s throw away. Right about now your wondering what does surviving Wisconsin winters have to do with managing your money. Read on…



How Surviving Wisconsin Winters is Like Managing Your Money



This year the winter weather has been a rollercoaster of variety. January and February have had days where the highs reached 50 degrees. Followed by subzero temperatures of -33 degrees. And in between wave after wave of snowstorms, some areas accumulating over 20 inches overnight.

Is Global Warming a Reality?

I will let the scientists and politicians debate that. But it seems to me that if the Weather Channel has to use terms like Polar Vortex, and Alberta Clipper more than once a year, then the threat of global warming in Wisconsin is still a ways off.

The other day I was shoveling away the fresh snow in front of the barn door, (three inches of fresh snow and ten inches from the previous day, which was piled on top of four inches from the previous week) I was reflecting on just how crazy the weather has been the last few weeks. 

I was thinking, as often happens when I’m shoveling, that living in Wisconsin during the winter months requires a certain amount of fortitude. Hardcore Wisconsinites, over time, have developed some personal traits that allow them to weather (pun intended) the long winters. Traits like adapting to change, patience and a never give up attitude. 

And then it dawned on me, that these traits are the same ones that are required for successfully managing your money.


Managing Your Money – Adapting to Change

To say Wisconsin winters are unpredictable is a serious understatement. One day, highs of 50 degrees melting the previous snowfall. The next day freezing rain, and the next week more snow. If you want to survive a Wisconsin winter you have to be able to adapt to change. Here are two examples of how Wisconsinites, adapt during the winter.

Driving – Most Wisconsinites have an enate ability to adapt their driving skills in a matter of seconds. One moment it could be driving on ice, the next a foot of snow or my favorite –  turning into a recently plowed side street and dodging a snowbank that wasn’t there yesterday.

If you can adapt to the ever-changing driving conditions quickly, welcome to Wisconsin. If you’re a speed demon, or road rage is your preferred method of compromise, it’s probably best you live someplace where the pavement is dry. Otherwise, you may find yourself in the ditch.



How Surviving Wisconsin Winters is Like Managing Your Money

No traffic report required in Wisconsin. Mother Nature has a way of letting you know just how fast you can go.



Going to School – This one is simple if the wind chill is below -25 degrees or if the snow is too deep for the school bus, there’s no school. Wisconsinites send their kids to school in the summer for makeup days. Parents love it, kids hate it.

On the farm, heavy snowfall means a lot of shoveling and plowing. Some weeks, it can become a daily routine. And in some cases, regardless of how much you shovel and plow, you just have to give in to Mother Nature and realize that when spring comes the snow will eventually melt. Wisconsin winters require adaptability to survive.



How Surviving Wisconsin Winters is Like Managing Your Money

The Back Door – I guess I’ll adapt and wait until spring to start using it again.

How to Manage Your Money –  Emergencies

Just like the unpredictability of a Wisconsin winter, unexpected emergencies can put a dent in your household’s finances. Unplanned medical expenses, job loss, maintenance on the car or maybe that 20-year old refrigerator you got from mom and dad decides it no longer wants to be a refrigerator.

Having an emergency fund for unexpected events is a way of adapting your finances for change. It’s the ability to overcome unforeseen events. Having an emergency fund is a way of avoiding unnecessary debt, so you don’t find your finances in the ditch.





Managing Your Money – Patience is a Virtue

Subzero weather is one thing, subzero weather with a wind chill can be downright dangerous. We recently survived a bout of temperatures that reached -28 degrees below zero. The 35 mile an hour winds pushed the temperatures to -65 degrees. At -65 degrees, frostbite takes place in five minutes. Throwing water into the air will cause it to freeze immediately. A short walk will leave your eyelids sticking together each time you blink. (I can personally confirm this.)



How Surviving Wisconsin Winters is Like Managing Your Money

Note the high on Wednesday -13



When it’s that cold, regardless of what your plans are, the safest thing to do is simply hunker down. Schools close, businesses close, additional warming centers open up and safety for everyone becomes the primary concern. Wisconsinites have learned that when the Polar Vortex arrives, patience is a virtue.



How Surviving Wisconsin Winters is Like Managing Your Money

The Goats – Hunkering down in -28 degrees, waiting for their next feeding.




Patience - One of Maxs finer qualities.

Patience – One of Max’s finer qualities.



In today’s go fast, hair on fire, social media frenzy we often want the things we want to have – NOW. And in our efforts to get what we want, we sometimes sabotage the most important things we are looking to achieve.

Saving Money

Saving money for a new car or maybe a down payment on your first home can take time. And along the way, as your saving, opportunities may arise to spend that money somewhere else – a quick vacation, new clothes or maybe a big screen TV for the football game. When impulsive spending situations come up, re-evaluate your reasons for saving in the first place, take a deep breath and have some patience.

Like snowstorms and frigid temperatures in Wisconsin, impulsive buying situations will come and go. Patience will allow you to evaluate your current wants, and help refocus you back to the reasons you started saving in the first place.


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Managing Your Money – Never Give Up Attitude

I like to plow snow with my ATV, it’s fun. I like clearing the driveway and making big snow piles. Even shoveling doesn’t bother me its great exercise. It all gives me a sense of purpose during the winter.

But that doesn’t mean I like to do it every day or multiple times a day.

When Mother Nature decides to dump snow on Wisconsin, it can often come in waves, for days. Shoveling, plowing, clearing snow can become a daily ritual. At times even finding a place to put all the snow can be a challenge. As winter wears on it becomes less, and less fun and more of a chore.



The ATV is stuck

Stuck – Having to dig the ATV out of the snowbank, was not part of the plan.


Paying Off Debt

Sometimes attitude is everything. Sometimes its the only thing that keeps you going. A never give up attitude means clearing the snow, snowfall after snowfall even when it’s March, because you know spring is just around the corner.

Paying off debt – credit card debt, student loans, car loans to achieve financial freedom can be a daunting task. At times it can feel a lot like a Wisconsin winter. Attitude can be the difference between reaching your financial goals or falling short and getting stuck.

When paying off debt, never give up regardless of how long you think it will take. You can do it. Like Wisconsinites do during the winter, keep shoveling, keep plowing, keep snow blowing until Spring comes.

Plow your way through debt by checking out my eBook, Filling The Pig – In 4 Steps. It provides a simple, yet comprehensive method for eliminating debt. It doesn’t contain any advice for surviving Wisconsin winters.


Eventually, Spring Comes

All Wisconsinites know that regardless of how cold the temperatures are, or how deep the snow gets, spring always comes after winter. Spring is the reward for surviving the Wisconsin winter months.



Spring in Wisconsin

Spring in Wisconsin – The color green, deer fawn and much warmer weather.



Regardless of how you manage your money the ability to adapt to change, have some patience and a never give up attitude will go a long way toward reaching your financial goals.


You can view more of my hobby farm life, here.


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Kevin is the owner of FTP and the author of the personal finance book series Filling The Pig. He uses his past successes and failures with debt, saving cash, investing and running home-based businesses to educate others about successful money managment and Creating a Lifestyle of Opportunities.

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2 thoughts on “How Surviving Wisconsin Winters is Like Managing Your Money

  1. I love the comparison you’re drawing!

    Also, when it gets to -30 to -40 (Celsius), you perfect hatching an escape plan, hibernating or gritting your teeth while you scurry outside. Great shopping deterrent.

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