With Department of Homeland Security Employees not knowing if they will get their next paycheck because of the possible shutdown, it is time to talk about a plan. Why come up with a plan for something that may not happen? Remember to ask yourself that when you wake up in the middle of the night worrying about what you will do if the shutdown does occur. Two of the most stressful things in life are dealing with uncertainty and things beyond your control. Handling bankruptcy cases in Southern Maryland, we see people dealing with this every day.
To take back some control of this situation and come up with a budget. This is not a normal budget. This is an emergency budget just to get through a possible shutdown. This means guessing as to how long it will be until your next paycheck. Once you know when your next check is coming you can revise your plan. If you have the savings, come up with a 60 day plan. If not, at least look at a 30 day plan. If back pay is granted, you can use it to replenish your savings and get caught up on bills. We are offering assistance to Department of Homeland Security employees who live in Southern Maryland by providing free consultations to discuss how to handle their finances if a shutdown occurs.
As we learned during the last Government Shutdown, not everyone’s plan will be the same. You need to do some research and decide what is right for you. One of the first things to do is to figure out what bills you have coming due in the next 30 to 60 days and what money you have to pay these bills.
Next figure out how to prioritize your bills. Make sure you have enough money for food. If this is all you have money for, everything else on the list will have to wait. Most people in Southern Maryland need to spend quite a bit of money to get back and forth to work. To add insult to injury, most DHS employees will be forced to work without pay if a shutdown occurs. Make sure you budget for this. If you are a DHS employee who would not be forced to work you may think you don’t need to worry about this expense.
Remember that you will still need to have money set aside to get back and forth to work when the shut down ends and you are waiting to get that first paycheck. Normally your mortgage payment would be your first priority. In this situation, this may not make sense. In Maryland, it takes over 4 months for your house to go to foreclosure. To us, due to the circumstances, it may make sense to put your mortgage payment further down the list. If you are renting, eviction can happen a lot quicker so it should be further up the list. For most people, cable and internet would be way down the list. However, if you telecommute, you may want to move your internet service up a little higher on the list. Here is the order we came up with. See if it makes sense for you:
- Transportation (gas in your tank or public transportation)
- Car Insurance
- Car payment
- Mortgage Payment
- Credit Cards
If you do not have enough money to pay all your bills for the next 30 days, keep in touch with your creditors. Make sure they understand that you are a federal employee and intend to pay your bill when you get back to work.
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