The United States has entered the third week of a government shutdown. For many government employees, this means a third week of no work and no paycheck. As worrisome as this is, it is a different situation than a typical lay-off. Hopefully these idle workers can expect to be back on the job soon, as the government must continue operating. We’re just not sure when. So until that time comes, there are some things that you can do if you are a government employee on furlough.
- Take Stock – Find out approximately how much money you have saved. You may want to include any investments or valuable assets that you own that could be sold if the situation becomes dire.
- Track Your Spending – If you haven’t been working from a budget already, now is the time to calculate what you spend on a monthly basis. How much do you spend in an average month on groceries, rent, car payments, insurance, restaurants, utility bills, cell phone plans, etc.? Every expense needs to be accounted for. Once you see how much you spend, you can find areas to cut back so you can stretch your money to last through your furlough. American Consumer Credit Counseling has a helpful worksheet for you to get started. It’s available for free here: http://www.consumercredit.com/financial-education/budgeting.aspx
- Save as Much as Possible – You don’t know how long the government shutdown is going to last, so you could remain on furlough for longer than expected. That’s why you need to cut back on spending wherever possible. Once you’ve completed your monthly budget, you’ll see areas where you can save money. It might be cancelling a gym membership, a magazine subscription, or cable TV channels.
- Find Another Job – If you can’t make ends meet during the shutdown, then you may want to look for a temporary job. This is not a career move, so don’t be too proud to find work at a lower position than you’re used to.
- Seek Help – If you are still unable to manage your expenses while on furlough, contact a nonprofit credit counseling agency like American Consumer Credit Counseling. They provide free counseling services and may be able to help you build a workable budget or make recommendations based on your specific situation.
It’s important to plan ahead for such situations by building up your emergency fund (see our previous post HERE to learn how). If you were unable to do so, these tips can be helpful for anyone facing unemployment or loss of income.