Handling a federal government shutdown
Tips on how to handle such a drastic event are now available
April 8, 2011
KANSAS CITY, Mo.
With the possibility of a federal government shut down approaching, and the potential for military families to suddenly be without a paycheck, Pioneer Services, a Division of MidCountry Bank, has developed several tips for service members, and even civilian government employees, to get through the shutdown with their finances intact.
"These families are in a tough spot since they have no control over what will happen or how long they might be without a paycheck, so we wanted to give them some ideas on how to handle the shutdown if occurs," said Karen Von Der Bruegge, chief marketing officer for Pioneer Services. "It will probably be difficult financially, as well as emotionally, so it's vital for companies that work with the military to protect these families' financial futures. Hopefully, we can make a positive difference and help guide them through this very difficult time."
- Call creditors—Whether it's a bank, finance company, auto dealer, etc., call them to discuss the situation (emails might not be answered in time). They should already be aware of the situation and be willing to find a positive solution on how to handle any missed payments. Make sure to let them know that this is a temporary issue, and that any missed pay will likely be retroactive, so you'll be able to catch up on anything missed payments. A good tip is to take detailed notes of when you called, with whom you spoke, and how they are going to address the situation. And if possible, have the company send you any paperwork relating to how they are going handle it so you have verification.
- Eliminate unnecessary spending—Cutting expenses anywhere you can will help a great deal. This could mean eating at home rather than out, carpooling to work, using fewer utilities, buying food from a food pantry, or other methods of savings. Basically, only worry about immediate essentials, while eliminating anything you can do without for a few weeks.
- Check your credit report—The government shutdown might force some people to miss payments, but creditors should not hold that against these families. Even if you have called to set up arrangements, some companies have systems they cannot shut off and, thus, might not have a choice but to report a missed payment. So make sure to get a copy of your credit report after the shutdown ends at www.annualcreditreport.com, and dispute any negative items that were the result of the shutdown.
- Utilize savings—Emergency savings accounts are suggested just for situations such as this, so use it if you have one. If you do not, after the shutdown ends would probably be a good time to set one up. That you will be financially prepared the next time you either have a loss of income or an unexpected expense.
If you need a hand up during this time, do not be afraid to ask for it. The following organizations have announced that they will be operating during the shutdown. Just note that it might take longer than usual to get a response due to the expected high demand.
Airman and Family Readiness Centers—Search for your installation to find your local office.
Air Force Aid Society
Army Community Services—Again, check for your installation first, then for your local office.
Army Emergency Relief
Coast Guard Community Services
Coast Guard Mutual Assistance
Marine Corps Community Services
Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society
Navy Fleet & Family Services—Link takes you to the regional directory so you can find the office in your area.
Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society
USA Cares—Provides small-dollar grants to families in need.
Operation Homefront—Provides emergency financial and other assistance to families.
Military One Source—A 24/7/365 resource for all branches.