Nonprofit American Consumer Credit Counseling offers tips to help consumers prepare for costs associated with snow and winter weather.
Boston, MA – February 25, 2015
It’s no secret that extreme cold and record-setting snow has taken a harsh financial toll on consumers and businesses throughout Massachusetts.
The City of Boston has already spent $35 million on snow removal, the most ever in its history and almost double what was originally budgeted. Local restaurants and retailers have lost significant dollars due to recent storms, and economists estimate that Massachusetts has already lost more than $1 billion in business activity due to the weather, transportation delays and drop-off in consumer spending.
Individual consumers have been hit just as hard, burdened with extra costs associated with everything from snow and ice removal, to shovels, salt and sand, and snow blower repairs and purchases. Many residents have also been forced to deal with the high cost of home maintenance and emergencies due to ice dams and leaking roofs.
Severe transportation challenges – particularly with the MBTA – have also forced many workers to turn to costly cabs and parking garages to get to work. The cost of extra childcare during snow days has also become a financial challenge. Low wage workers – whose paychecks are largely dependent on hours worked – have been hit perhaps harder than anyone due to business closures and transportation issues.
“This historic and harsh winter is taking a tremendous financial and economic toll on consumers, businesses and communities throughout Massachusetts – catching many of us off guard to some extent,” said Steve Trumble, President and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling. “This weather is creating financial chaos – particularly for individuals living paycheck to paycheck –and consumers are asking what they can do to better prepare for the financial toll of winter.”
While options are somewhat limited for the rest of this winter, it’s not too early to start thinking about 2016. So what should consumers do?
First, create an emergency winter weather budget to manage expected and unforeseen expenses related to your home and snow and ice removal. Just as important, do your research and find potential contractors and services in advance. Go online and research local companies that conduct snow and ice removal. Get quotes ahead of time before crisis strikes and demand explodes. For example, ice dams and snow removal from roofs is costing anywhere between $800 and $2,000 right now – in some cases double the cost of the same services this time last year.
Prepare your home in advance for heavy snow and ice. Get advice from professionals on prevention measures such as gutter cleaning, heating cables and roof salt bags. Basic necessities such as shovels, salt, roof rakes and plows can be cheaper in the summer, so consider getting a head start and purchasing them in the offseason. Online searches for used snow removal equipment such as snow plows can also yield major savings.
In the event that school is out but parents are required to work, have back up child care ready in a pinch, or save up paid time off for winter months that can be used during school closing days.
“By taking the time to prepare in advance, you can save thousands of dollars in damage repair and other costs,” added Trumble. “Snow removal services and unforeseen transportation and childcare issues can become very costly given the urgency of the situation and number of households that are affected.”
ACCC is a 501(c)3 organization, that provides free credit counseling, bankruptcy counseling, and housing counseling to consumers nationwide in need of financial literacy education and money management. For more information, contact ACCC:
- For credit counseling, call 800-769-3571
- For bankruptcy counseling, call 866-826-6924
- For housing counseling, call 866-826-7180
- For information on financial education workshops in New England, call 800-769-3571 x1980
- Or visit us online at ConsumerCredit.com
About American Consumer Credit Counseling
American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to empowering consumers to achieve financial health through education, counseling, and debt management. ACCC provides individuals with practical solutions for solving financial problems and recognizes that consumers’ financial difficulties are often not the result of poor spending habits, but more frequently from extenuating circumstances beyond their control. As one of the nation’s leading providers of financial education and credit counseling services, ACCC works with consumers to help them with the best plan of action to reduce their debt and regain financial stability. ACCC is accredited by the Better Business Bureau and holds an A+ rating. It is also a member of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies. For more information or to access free financial education resources log on to ConsumerCredit.com or visit TalkingCentsBlog.com.