Has this winter hurt your household budget?

Natural gas costs are up this winter by roughly 15% according to Xcel Energy. Are you feeling the pinch of energy costs? Where are you cutting back to cover other winter-related costs?

“There’s all this give and take going on at the micro level,” according to Toby Madden, an economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. “But at the macro level, we still should be producing $300 billion worth of goods and services this year in 2014.”

What about all the expensive repairs to burst pipes and busted fenders? Economists call that a “loss of wealth.”

Despite those costs, Minnesota’s economy is so big and so diverse that a few months of lousy weather is not likely to move the needle much. In fact, Madden said, all signs point to continued economic growth. (MPR News/KARE11)

Today’s Question: Has this winter hurt your household budget?

  • “Has this winter hurt your household budget?”

    Oh Heck yes. Our gas bill is nearly $200 per month, that’s up from the usual $85 per month last winter. It’s becoming a struggle to have any extra money leftover when the bills are paid that we’re falling behind on our mortgage. Quite scary but we’re trucking along, cutting things here and there. As everyone else is saying out there, spring can’t arrive soon enough. The sooner I can turn off the heat, the better.

  • Gary F

    Fuel costs went up, paid for a deductible on one car for a fender bender, bought parts for the son’s car for a DIY repair for his fender bender.

    I think we probably stayed home more, so there might be some savings.

    Sure glad I bought that new snowblower last fall.

    Two years ago it was 80F on St Patrick’s day.

  • bob hicks

    How does $2200 in ice dam removal costs sound? This winter has been a complete misery both economically and emotionally.

  • JQP

    total costs are about the same, but where I’m spending it is not.
    – paying more to heat.
    – more on groceries , less on dining-entertainment
    – more on snow-removal – less on household projects ( paint, wallpaper, etc.)
    – more on fuel (longer-slower drives &gasoline/gallon is up) less on “fun” ( lunch out, new clothing item, )
    – definitely NOT able to afford a trip to anywhere this spring ( OK not the last 5 either).

    North America is starting to look like a very hard place ( weatherwise) to live … if this last year starts repeating …. every 2-5 years … instead of every 20-30 … American infrastructure will require a three-fold increase in expense to maintain the poor condition its in.

  • Steve

    Our water line to our barn froze so now we are carrying water buckets since Feb 5th. Our wood supply which we use to heat our house entirely has dwindled down to where we will run out by the end of this month where last year we didn’t run out. We need to burn more fossil fuels and build up that CO2, we need warmth. http://www.M4GW.com

    • JQP

      hope the wood lasts.
      as for M4GW… it has to be the funniest anti-climate change site I’ve seen yet.

      Hilarious link man …

  • James

    The Fed economist is full of it. Over the short term there has been no impact on the macro economy, because we are trading off things we like to buy for things we have to buy. However, most of us are heading into spring with depeleted savings accounts due to the high cost of energy, car repairs, house repairs and the like. I feel sorry for the businesses serving our discretionary needs (stores, restaurants, cultural events) who are not doubt taking the brunt of the shift, and will continue to do so until savings accounts get replenished.

    • JQP

      I think , that is the metric. Short term .. no real change .. but long term the impact will be there.

      The “economy” and “business” are really collaborative communities … dependent on each others activity. When the majority of money goes into fewer of those community members … the overall community changes and there are distinct losers. In this recent case … it was nothing that the individual businesses could adjust for…. ripping cold, nasty dangerous driving reduces willful participation in what would otherwise be normal spending.

      rents, insurance, operational costs aren’t very flexible. This summer you could see small businesses closed simply because they burned out their cash reserves trying to maintain store fronts through a 2-3 month very low customer “event”.

  • Jim G

    Fuel costs, gasoline and natural gas, are up. We had some unexpected car maintenance coming in close to a grand. Even changing headlight light bulbs was over a hundred bucks because I decided I wasn’t going to take off the inner panels in my unheated garage, freezing my fingers off in the process. Thankfully, we haven’t fallen this winter, yet. I’m also thankful I don’t have a new driver in the house as my brother-in-law does. His 16 year old driver has crashed all three family vehicles hitting a garage door, snowbank, and parked car. OUCH!

  • AndyBriebart

    I guess there isn’t much happening in the world, nation or Minnesota so we need to ask a question of the obvious. Ukraine, Venezuela, another Obamacare delay, minimum wage, aren’t as newsworthy as a obvious question is the weather costing us money.

    • James

      Because another uninformed opinion on the situation in Ukraine is so edifying????

      • kevins

        Ditto your comment James

  • killershrew

    Our heating bill was just shy of $200 for January and $185 for February, which it’s usually about $160 and $135 for those months, respectively. Our budget could take the hit without causing much pain, but it was still a shock to open those bills. Hoping that next winter is a bit milder.

  • Happy Hiker

    I live in Babbitt, Minnesota. We have had almost 70 days below zero this winter. It has cost me an average of $550 per month to heat my house from December through February. That is just fuel oil and electric. Also I have spent more money on gas, since I have to let the car warm up each time before I drive it. Thank God for tax refunds to catch up on bills, or I wouldn’t have made it this winter!

  • PaulJ

    It’s reeking havoc on my fixed assets ( freezing them off).