Ants Think Winter All Summer!

Huh?!

That is exactly what I thought the first time I heard it. I have recently been listening to The Art of Exceptional Living by Mr. Jim Rohn and that comment came out of his mouth. I actually had to pull over, rewind the tape and listen to it again to make sure I heard it correctly.

The whole quote goes: “ants think winter all summer. That’s an important perspective. You can’t be so naive as to think summer will last forever. So ants gather their winter food in the middle of summer.”

Wow what an amazing life perspective this must be! To always be thinking ahead to make sure that when things go from good to bad or bad to worse you are prepared for it because you planned ahead and planned for those days.

This is not a perspective of “woe is me” or doomsday thinking, it’s more about thinking ahead and thinking about the fact that you must grow and harvest during the summer (the good times) so that you have enough food to eat during the winter (the hard times).
I know it might seem pretty obvious but how many of use actually think like that? How many of us live on 70% of our net income so that we have some money in the bank when/if we get laid off? How many of us live like the strict Mormon religion suggests when it comes to storing at least one year’s worth of food in your house?

My family experienced the horror of not thinking about winter directly, a few years ago I was working as the director of IT for a local company and making over $90,000 a year and we were living high off the hog, until October when the housing bubble broke and I got laid off! Now all of a sudden it’s the dead of winter (figuratively) and I truly wish we had put aside some food to get us through a winter like that. It truly tested my marriage and my sanity.

So how do you think winter during summer? What can you do to get prepared for winter during the good times?

Can you go to McDonalds once a week less and instead put that money into a savings account?

Can you but an extra can of green beans during this weeks shopping trip?

Can you do some research about how to save money on your cell phone bill?

Can you get rid of one of the movie channel packages on your cable?

Can you pick up a Sunday paper and start clipping coupons? This area is actually something that has made a significant change in the life of my family. Not long after getting laid off, money began to get really tight and I started keeping track of what we spent where and quickly came to realize that the largest single expense my family of four had that was not a “hard” amount (something we couldn’t change like mortgage, car payment, etc…) was our food budget.

We were spending $800+ a month to feed our family. I was utterly shocked at how much we were spending! I started looking around at ways to decrease that amount, eventually I discovered coupons and a book called The Coupon Mom’s Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bill in Half and I was intrigued.

With some work, planning and thought I have been able to implement most of the suggestions from the book and have actually cut our monthly grocery bill in half! We are spending exactly $400 a month on food now and actually have more food then ever before. Our pantry is full, we have three sets of shelves in our basement that are full of food and we have two freezers that are completely stocked. Now I understand that couponing isn’t for everybody but don’t discount it without really looking hard at it as it saves my family thousands of dollars a year!

Please do not think I am advocating moving to the woods, cutting yourself off from civilization and living off the land, that is not thinking winter that is extremism.
There are many, many ways that you can change your lifestyle in some small ways that can have significant impact on how much you spend on what and how to utilize that excess to prepare for winter.

My Dad has been trying to teach me frugality and the “think winter” mentality since I was a little child and it has only been in recent years that I have actually began to sit up and take notice. When I was a teen and young married adult I couldn’t understand how saving $10 a month on this and $12 a month on something else could actually add up to real money. Now I look back and wish my head was just a little less dense and it would have made a huge difference in my life.

So remember, ants think winter all summer long!

Until Next Time…

Eric

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3 Responses to Ants Think Winter All Summer!

  1. C says:

    Hey Eric….great post! As all of our family knows, I am a little tight when it comes to spending. But what many don’t understand is something I learned a long time ago called “Opportunity Cost” or OC. As an idea you can apply it to many, many things.

    In the area of frugality: I see it this way. If I spend $1 or $10 or $100 (amount does not matter at all) on thing A then I do not have it to spend on thing B, or have it to put into savings account C or to donate it to charity D. So…..I like to choose where I spend my $1. Life has taught me to apply the principle of OC in the area of time control particularly.

    Funny thing about your coupon story, and you food budget. I watched one of the Extreme Coupon TV shows just last night. Now I think the people portrayed are ‘over the top’ but this one woman feeds her family of five on a monthly food budget of $50. Every single month. Only in America!

    I agree with Jim Rohn. Think Winter with your planning, so that you can live Summer everyday. And a final thought, yes – cut back the waste, plan for tomorrow’s thin times, learn budget & control. BUT also: remember the saying, what you do during the day is how you make a living; but it’s what you do with your evening hours that will make your life. Most people use that ‘free’ time to relax (code for: do nothing) but wise people use that time to become a better person, be a better spouse/parent/child, to create a better life, a better future. Decrease the outflow AND increase the income too. That’s a double whammy.

  2. Joyce Zoumas says:

    Great post Eric. I’ve lived most of my life this way. My parents were very frugal, not by choice, by necessity. Everyone can learn to save for a rainy day or a cold winter.

  3. Yolanda says:

    It’s funny how I found this but it did involve ants! It made me realized that you are right we also spend a lot of money on food! And I will definitely use your advice on how to save money! We have to be prepared for the worse just incase something happens. We need to have money saved. I will definitely think winter in the summer. Thanks and God bless.

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