Homestead Funds got its start serving rural electric cooperatives and their employees. For this reason, we are especially pleased to add our voice to the many individuals and organizations expressing their appreciation for the important and difficult work lineworkers do. This year, we’re celebrating with a campaign that acknowledges the training, focus and commitment line crews bring to their jobs every day.
Here you’ll find financial planning insights that we believe are especially relevant to lineworkers and a collection of educational resources for further reading. See something of interest? We invite you to connect with us and continue the conversation.
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Lineworkers often are first on the scene, pitching in to help when they come upon an accident or other emergency. There are many stories of lineworkers who are unsung heroes: rescuing a motorist whose car was swept away by floodwaters, providing life-saving first aid to people experiencing a stroke or other accident; even responding when they see animals in danger and can lend a hand.
Being ready for the unexpected is something all of us put into action across many situations in our daily lives. Spare tires, portable cell phone chargers and a few protein bars in a backpack all attest to our not wanting to be caught unprepared for an emergency. But it’s a concept that is too often absent from our finances.
For most of us, emergencies are a when, not an if. At some point in life, just about everyone is bound to hit a rough patch. Here we offer five steps to establishing and building an emergency savings account.
- Estimate all of your normal, recurring monthly expenses, plus 1/12th of your annual expenses. Don’t forget to add some cushion for the one-time, exceptional items that we all tend to underestimate.
- Multiply that number by 3: That’s your emergency fund minimum goal.
- Set up an investment account to receive the money you’re going to set aside. You can open a Homestead Funds account online.
- Start funneling a small monthly amount straight from your paycheck or checking account automatically.
- Set the account to invest in a conservative fund, such as a short-duration bond fund. Once the balance is higher, you can start putting some portion into riskier, potentially higher-return investments, such as stock funds.
Keeping Your Cool During a Power Outage
In the summer, storms and increased demand for electricity can interrupt power availability. If a downed line is to blame, your most welcome sight is likely to be the power crew dispatched to fix the problem and restore your service.
Lineworkers do the hard work, rushing into storms and responding any time, day or night. For utility customers, an outage might mean just a few uncomfortable hours without air conditioning — a minor inconvenience. An extended outage, however, can take a toll and requires some planning.
Here are a few suggestions that can make your life easier should your power go out this summer.
Survival Tips for Summer Power Outages
- Keep a supply of bottled water on hand.
- Check your flashlights and battery supply.
- Secure a backup power source for your cell phone and any medical equipment.
- Maintain a supply of nonperishable food.
- Limit the number of times you open your refrigerator or freezer and toss any spoiled food right away.
- Plan alternate ways to prepare and store food (e.g., cook outside on a charcoal or gas grill, fill a cooler with ice).
- If you have a generator, use it only outdoors and away from the house.
- Stay away from downed power lines! Report any down lines to your co-op immediately.
Check your electric cooperative’s website for checklists and other safety resources similar to what is provided by Aiken Electric Cooperative in South Carolina. And remember to thank a lineworker when your power is restored. We truly appreciate their service and acknowledge the difficult work they do every day.
- Saving for a Rainy Day
- Establishing a Storm Reserve Account for Your Co-op (for cooperative leadership)
The nonprofit National Safety Council recognizes June as National Safety Month, putting a special focus on ways to keep the nation’s workplaces, roads and communities safe. Safety is always a priority for lineworkers. It’s a dangerous job, and lineworkers are trained to work in ways that help prevent injury and death.
Rural electric cooperatives are keenly focused on maintaining a culture of safety. Safety protocols, training workshops, safety benchmarks and performance measuring tools all help keep lineworkers safe on the job.
Safety is also a consideration for investors. When you use your money to buy shares of stocks, bonds or mutual funds, it’s important to understand how your investment is likely to perform — both the degree of risk and the potential for return. At Homestead Funds, we strive to inform and educate our shareholders using terms you don’t have to be an investment professional to know. No one can predict the future with certainty, but having an accurate understanding of investment types and their traits can help you be comfortable with inevitable fluctuations in your account’s value and confident that your investments are working for you in the ways you intended.
Tools of the Trade
In addition to the physical demands of the job — climbing, lifting and working above ground — lineworkers have to master the tools and technology needed to perform their work safely. Lines, clamps, hand tools, transformers and bucket trucks are just some of the essentials. Lineworkers have completed years of training to hone the skills they need to be able to perform their jobs safely, and these are on display at rodeos around the country. Homestead Funds is proud to be a sponsor of this year’s Gaff-n-Go Lineworker Rodeo happening in Doswell, Virginia, May 13 and 14.
Investment managers and financial planners — two of the specialty trades employed by Homestead Funds — also have standards for education and training. You can meet our professionals and read their bios here. Just as cooperatives want to be confident their lineworkers have what they need to do their jobs and return home safely at the end of the day, investors should expect that the individuals they choose to help them meet their financial goals are trained professionals with the appropriate credentials.
Responding to Emergencies
We join electric cooperatives in celebrating Lineworker Appreciation Day on April 11.
When big storms bring power outages, lineworkers are their communities’ first responders. They get up and out in all kinds of weather and work around the clock to restore power and keep their communities safe. Preparing for potentially dangerous situations in bad weather requires lineworkers to be calm and focused, a skill honed with years of training and experience.
Being ready for an emergency is also an important piece of your personal financial plan. Life throws us curve balls, such as unexpected car problems, a surprise home repair bill, or a friend or family member in need of financial support.
A smart strategy is to build and preserve a rainy-day account over time by contributing a manageable amount every pay period until you have a comfortable cushion — typically three to six months of living expenses that you can tap when needed. Having a savings cushion can help keep you from having to dip into your retirement plan or going into debt and can give you peace of mind that you’re prepared and ready to respond to an emergency.
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