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Wealth Column: What real snowbirds can teach you about wintering down South

With winter closing in, dreams of t-shirt weather and warm beaches are fading away. Those of you "snowbirds" who are lucky enough to spend the cold months in warmer climates are about to make those dreams a reality.

Bruce Helmer and Peg Webb, financial advisers at Wealth Enhancement Group and co-hosts of “Your Money” on KLKS 100.1 FM on Sunday mornings.
Bruce Helmer and Peg Webb, financial advisers at Wealth Enhancement Group and co-hosts of “Your Money” on KLKS 100.1 FM on Sunday mornings.

With winter closing in, dreams of t-shirt weather and warm beaches are fading away. Those of you "snowbirds" who are lucky enough to spend the cold months in warmer climates are about to make those dreams a reality.

In celebration of your annual southern migration, we thought we'd have a little fun and explore a few lessons that real snowbirds can teach us about how to prepare for a winter down south.

Prepare Like the Chickadee

Black-capped chickadees stay north all winter long, but they make sure their winter abodes are safe from snow, winter or water damage that could leave them out in the cold. If you're going to be away from your home for an extended period of time, make sure it's properly prepared for the snow, wind and ice that could take a toll. Before you head south, have your gutters cleaned and your pipes insulated. Check for roof damage that could cause a leak.

And don't forget to leave your home heated to a safe temperature to avoid freezing water lines.

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Protect Your Home from the Wren-Like Behavior

House Wrens are known for sabotaging the nests of neighboring birds to give themselves a territorial advantage. Don't leave your home vulnerable to Wren-like behavior. If you're going to be away from your home for any extended period of time, make sure it's protected from potential theft and damage. Before you leave, update your security system, have the post office forward or hold your mail, and let your neighbors know when you'll be gone so they can keep an eye out, too.

Be Picky Like the Bowerbird

Female Bowerbirds scope out the nests of multiple male suitors before deciding on a mate. The male birds build ornate displays in and around nests to attract picky females. The end result is a happy bird in a home she enjoys. Be like the female Bowerbird. Make sure to do your homework and think about visiting your intended location before buying to check that you will be happy in your new winter community.

Think it Through with the Hummingbirds

Ruby-throated hummingbirds can travel from as far north as Canada to Central America for the winter. They get the benefit of staying warm all year, but the long journey can be taxing for the tiny birds. It's important for potential snowbirds to consider the costs and benefits, both financial and physical, of heading south for winter as well. Maintaining two properties and traveling can be stressful and time consuming, but the payoff of sitting on a beach in February may be worth the extra effort for you.

Plan It Out with the Warblers

On their migration route, Warblers stop at multiple layover sites to refuel and prepare to continue their trip to avoid injury and over exhaustion. Have a travel plan and be sure you're prepared for any emergencies that might happen along the way. Preparing for health care and banking needs in your new winter locale will be important as well.

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Stay Safe with Your Own Flock

Birds almost always fly in a flock. Having backup helps keep them moving in the right direction with the smallest number of complications. Just as birds rely on others to ensure their safety, having a team of financial planners, advisers, tax planners and investment managers behind you can help keep you safe financially, too. Make sure you have a trusted team of specialists to look after you and your assets, no matter where you spend your winters.

Related Topics: SMALL BUSINESS
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