What hibernation can teach us about our finances

Ginger squirrel sits on a tree in the winter forest. Rodent eating a nut.

It’s the time of year when many animals are preparing their winter quarters, topping up stores of food and getting ready for a long winter’s nap, also known as hibernation.

 

What’s this got to do with finance? A lot actually, because this is nature’s way of helping creatures to survive periods when the resources they know they will need to survive will be low.  And while many of us don’t know when the bad times will hit us, many who work in seasonal industries do. Many of us are also able to predict changes from the news — for example, how the Bank of England increasing interest rates could affect many households.  Our financial life planners are here to help you through the lean times as well as the plentiful ones. Here are some lessons we can take from nature’s ultimate savings scheme: hibernation.

 

Prepare, prepare, prepare

Animals may be scrabbling around to find extra food to stash away in their hibernation nests now, but most work extra hard all summer to boost up fat reserves so that they will be comfortable for the leaner, colder times. It’s steady and it’s habitual. Introducing habits of storing just a little of the extra, regularly, when resources are more plentiful, means that we’ll always be more likely to survive and thrive if times get leaner. For many of us it is simply having a savings account and putting a little extra away. Getting the balance right is something your financial life planner can talk to you about.

 

Planning can make the leaner times less uncomfortable

Most hibernating creatures plan quite carefully to ensure that when they will have few resources they have made it as easy as possible to get by without them. Some digging animals, for example, carefully prepare a sleeping chamber underground, a food storage chamber right next door and a place that’s effectively an animal bathroom. They won’t have energy or resources to move around much so they’ve made sure they have all the essentials they need.

Thinking of ways to get by comfortably with few resources in human terms might mean planning the weekly food shop with more care — bulk buying and simply planning what you will eat each week can save a lot, but it also helps you to be much healthier.  Reducing unnecessary road trips saves money but also gives you more time in your life and it’s kinder to the planet. Inviting friends around for board games or quizzes instead of going out somewhere to eat saves money but also can be more fun simply because it’s different. You can talk over ways to make the lean times more fun and comfortable with your Serenity adviser and just a little regular planning will make you wonder why you didn’t do these things anyway.

 

Have a system in place if things get very bad

All being well, we’ll go through the leaner times, and we’re more likely to survive them if we plan well. But did you know Mother Nature also has a process in place for if things get really bad. If the temperature drops too low, many animals will naturally wake up. The drop in their blood temperature has alerted them that it is time to act if they are to survive. They now know that they will have to get out there and find more resources in order to make it through to the spring. Studies show when weather gets very cold, many animals know the places they can go for emergency foods.

Making sure that you know where you can get support and help and what options are open to you if your finances hit certain markers is one way of making sure that you will get through it all. This is certainly an area where your Serenity advisers are here to talk through what your best options might be. And rest assured, better times will come around again. Taking a little time out to plan and adopt good habits, ideally when things are comfortable, will help to ensure that you and your loved ones don’t struggle if resources do begin to get scarce.