Pay Day is everyone’s favorite day of the week, but imagine not getting paid.
That’s the situation ahead for federal workers as the partial government shutdown continues for its 19th day.
The partial shutdown affects nine federal departments. Starting Friday, many of them will miss a paycheck.
If you were to be in a similar situation, how prepared would you be?
Todd Bury, of Bury Financial, said the government shutdown underscores the importance of having an emergency fund to pay for expenses like food, medicine and housing.
“You gotta make sure you have funds available should you all of a sudden not have a paycheck for a month or two months,” he said.
Bury recommends staying away from long-term funds such as 401Ks and IRAs. Some have loan provisions, but using them should be a low priority.
You could establish a home equity line of credit at a bank, assuming you have some equity in your home.
“Some of my clients have a home equity line of credit established for years and they never even use it, but if an emergency does come up and they do need it, they all of a sudden have a place they can go and get some quick money,” he said.
The United States Office of Personnel Management is providing sample letters which workers can send creditors and mortgage companies to explain their situation. It’s important to communicate with your bank whether you’re furloughed or fired.
Be careful if you consider getting financial help from a family member. It could cause conflict if you can’t pay him or her back quickly, Bury warns.
Emotions are strong when making important money decisions. Don’t compound your mistakes, such as tapping that 401K, paying penalties, taxes and getting less money because the stock market is down.
Hopefully, the situation will be short, which is exactly what an emergency fund should cover.
Just be disciplined about it.
“You’re still working. You’re still employed, but now you see what others are going through. Let this be a lesson and say, ‘I need to set up an emergency fund right away,'” Bury said.
Everyone has a different comfort level of how much an emergency fund should cover — three months, six months, more or less. Bury says discipline is the key — one paycheck at a time.