Budgeting Tips to Survive the 2019 Government Shutdown
Has your income been affected by the government shutdown? Luckily, many corporations, local businesses, and community food banks are banding together to help where they can. Here’s what you can do to make sure your budget stays on track during this this government shutdown.
Negotiate Deferrals on Monthly Payments
Take a look at your budget and to identify all of your fixed monthly payments. Reach out to the different companies to see if you can negotiate a deferment in payments until the government re-opens. Just ask. The worst thing they could say is “No”.
Here’s a list of some companies who are offering assistance to furloughed federal employees:
Bank of America
Navy Federal Credit Union
Cell Phone Carriers
Utility Companies (this will vary depending on where you live)
Stop Automatic Savings Contributions & Decrease Debts Payments to the Minimums
If you have been following popular financial advice and have been making automatic savings contributions to various savings accounts or making extra/voluntary payments to your debt, while you await your next paycheck, you should consider temporarily pausing this activity to avoid any unintentional overdrafts in your account.
If you have an Emergency Fund…
If you are fortunate enough to have an emergency fund, this is the perfect time to use it to cover your unavoidable expenses while you go without a paycheck. Ensure you are using your savings frugally by determining how much you absolutely need to survive and pay yourself that amount from your savings on a weekly basis. For instance, if you are a Financial Gym member, your Financial Trainer has given you a weekly budget for variable expenses. Use that as a starting guide and you can adjust it down depending on how robust your emergency fund is.
If you don’t have an Emergency Fund yet…
1) Apply for a 0% credit card: If you have good to excellent credit, you could take advantage of the many credit cards that offer a 0% APR introductory period. These introductory periods can range from 12-21 months.
2) Seek out 0% or low-interest loans especially created for government workers: Banks and credit unions large and small have created no to low interest loans for federal employees to help them cover expenses while the government is shut down. Every bank’s offer is a little bit different, so check with your primary bank first since you already have an established relationship with them, then search elsewhere if you have no luck with your bank.
3) Apply for unemployment benefits: Federal employees who have been furloughed, or deemed non-essential to their departments are eligible to apply for unemployment benefits. This, unfortunately, does not apply to employees who are “excepted” - meaning they must continue to perform their typical job duties without compensation until the shutdown ends because they are entitled to payment for the hours they’ve worked. Note that once the government reopens and they receive back pay, unemployment must be repaid.
Do your part
Research shows that happiness is found by helping others. If you are a glass half full kind of person and have found yourself with some extra time or fortunate to have extra money on hand, this is the perfect time to lend a hand to others who are less fortunate. Here are some ways you can make an impact:
1) Donate food and/or your time to a food pantry: In communities with a large population of federal workers, demand for food banks will rise. Make a donation of food, money or your time to a food bank to feed the hungry.
2) Donate to animal shelters: Some community animal shelters will be providing pet food to families impacted by the shutdown. Donate a bag of dog or cat food or money to your local animal shelter and make sure families are able to feed their pets.
3) Call your representatives: Find your local representatives and Senators to tell them you are or support federal workers and to ask that they end the shutdown as soon as possible.
Enjoy the discounts
Lastly, take advantage of some of the more tongue and cheek offers national brands and local businesses are offering to federal workers to make light of this unfortunate time. National offers include Rosetta Stone, participating Fazolli’s, and Sky Zone. Payitfurloughed.com was created for people to donate a local craft beer for federal employees impacted by the government shutdown. Check your local news sources for local businesses offering freebies and discounts for government employees.
If you’d like to sit with one of our Certified Financial Trainers to help you strategize your unique financial situation or help you be more government shutdown proof your budget in the future, we are offering membership deferrals to furloughed federal employees. Schedule your free consultation now.