If our squabbling “budgeteers” in Washington can’t pass a budget before the end of the current fiscal year September 30, then sometime in October, service members could see a delay in their pay and civilian employees could be effectively furloughed until the government has the money to pay them.
Here are 5 things you can do to be financially prepared for a government shutdown:
1. Assess your budget and prioritize your debts
If necessary, use a calendar and write down what you have due on what date. How much is in your savings and checking? Generally speaking, in a crisis, you should prioritize paying for shelter (rent and utilities) and debt with collateral (a car or a house). This doesn’t mean that you should ignore your other responsibilities, but it should help you make a short-term choice between which debts to pay and which debts to put on hold.
2. Stop spending
Go cold turkey – no eating out, no salon appointments, no movies, no iTunes, no Netflix. Nothing. Nada. Just buy gas and grocery basics. It sounds harsh, but it’s only for a few weeks.
3. Contact your creditors
Is there a possibility you won’t be able to make your mortgage payment or might not be able to make the minimum payment on your credit card? Then call the mortgage company or the credit card folks and let them know ahead of time. It’s much better to let them know and see whether they can work with you by cutting interest rates, waiving late fees or tacking missed payments on to the end of the loan term.
4. Contact your bank or credit union
Some financial institutions have programs in place to help service members and government employees through tough financial times. Several offer short-term interest-free loans.
Last, but certainly not least….
5. Get help (if and when you need it)
Your local military installation has financial counselors available who can help you create a spending plan or a crisis budget. They can also refer you to local resources who might be able to help. Don’t live close to an installation? Military OneSource has financial counselors on hand 24 hours a day.