First Person: Surviving Blizzard Nemo Cost Me $500 in Cash

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First Person: Surviving Blizzard Nemo Cost Me $500 in Cash
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Snow from Blizzard Nemo left me stranded in a dorm.

As a Floridian for the past 10 years, I never expected to have to deal with a blizzard again. With $500 cash in my pocket, I drove off to New York to help my son in college who needed a used vehicle to get to his school and work in the frigid winter. I left with a strict mandate from my family to get there before the blizzard. My plan was to fly back in four days, after the storm had died down. Looking back, I'm glad I decided to take so much cash from our emergency fund. As it turned out, cash is a good commodity during major weather events.

Taking care of business

I spent a good chunk of the $500 on car maintenance. After driving for two days, I knew the car would need an oil change. I made it a high priority to have a safe vehicle since I'd be visiting in a snowstorm for several days. Some of the more expensive car repairs would have to wait or be paid on credit since I needed my cash for surviving Nemo. I spent about $200 cash on the car and put the rest on credit.

Having cash for food

My son's dorm is located near several eating establishments including a sandwich shop and pizza delivery restaurant. I saw a sign on the restaurant door that let customers know they were only accepting cash. Many of the businesses that we could reach no longer had the ability to take credit cards during the storm. We spent more money than usual on food since we had to rely on convenience food until we could make it to a grocery store. I spent about $120 on food.

Stocking up on essentials

Although it's good for college students to stock up on supplies, my son was out of most everything when I arrived. After nearly getting stuck in snow drift, I decided to purchase a shovel that could be placed in the car. We also made sure to have a car blanket and all of the hats, gloves, scarves, ice scrapers and other essentials needed for winter. I spent $90 on winter supplies.

Paying for a hotel

Although I didn't have to pay to stay in my son's dorm, they have a limit of three nights for visitors. The fourth night I stayed in a hotel. I also felt more comfortable knowing I was extremely close to the airport due to the weather conditions. I spent about $90 on the hotel. On the drive to New York, I used a credit card to stay in another hotel. Since I had troubled finding a hotel that wasn't booked on the drive to New York, I decided to reserve a room the night before my flight home.

I spent more than $500 on my trip to New York, but all of my cash from my emergency fund was blown away by expenses directly related to Blizzard Nemo. In the future, I will put money aside into a rainy day account for catastrophic events even though I'm more likely to deal with a hurricane than a snow blizzard living in Florida.

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