It is coming. Well at least it looks that way, a government shutdown. Get ready to embrace the suck. Here are some tips to get through the coming weeks.
What is shutting down?
Many people don’t realize the bigger picture and what all a government shutdown may include. It is not just the military as many may think as they have been used as political and media pawns. This issue is big and has ripple down effects. It affects not only the Department of Defense but the National Park Service, various departments of Homeland Security, federal courts and more. You can look HERE for a list of agencies that will or could be affected.
Being a military family this issue hits us hard as it does many other military and federal employee families. The number one issue that we worry about is not getting that paycheck on October 15th. That means for some dipping into their emergency fund something that I cannot stress the importance of. While yes it is for emergencies I know when we started our fund we thought about our trucks breaking down, major appliances breaking and things of that nature. Not a government shut down where my husband would not be getting a paycheck. Other families are not as lucky though as many families live pay check to paycheck. Thankfully some banks and credit unions such as USAA, Navy federal , Pacific Marine Credit Union, Marine Federal Credit Union, Service Credit Union, Belvoir Credit Union, Air Force Credit Union, First Command, Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union are offering payroll advances and zero or low interest loans to help at this time. If your bank is not listed here contact them and see if they offer any assistance. Some banks such as US Bank and First Light Credit Union offer programs for military families. I do suggest staying away from non-bank payday/cash advance locations. If needed Army Emergency Relief (AER), Air Force Aid Society (AFAS), Navy- Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) and Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA) will all be available if you need assistance. The Red Cross and Operation Homefront also offer financial assistance for military families.
It is what it is and figuring out what to do with your bills comes next.You need to figure out how to pay your rent/mortgage, electric bill, water and other bills. The best policy here is to be proactive and call and contact your creditors. They may be able to work with you they may not. You never know what they can offer unless you call. The worst thing they can do is say no. Remember the organizations listed above that can help you.
So your soldier still needs to go to work without getting paid, what can you do about gas money? Start a carpool with other families in your area. Yes it sucks that they have to go to work and not have the money to go but what are you going to do? You make it work. It’s all about rolling with the punches.
Feeding your Family
I am constantly looking for ways to feed my family for less and a looming government shutdown has me looking at where I can cut back especially since the commissary will be closed. A good place to start is to create a meal plan and stick to it. This helps you when it comes time to make a grocery list and when it comes time to shop. To help you meal plan use your grocery store ads and buy what is on sale. To save more money use coupons.
Here are a few healthy and economical foods:
Water, healthier and cheaper than soda and other sweetened drinks.
Eat Beans, they are economical, full of protein and fiber.
Brown Rice, whole grain and full of vitamins
Sweet Potatoes, low in calories and full of vitamins like Vitamin A and C.
Frozen Veggies, steam instead of boil to avoid nutrient loss.
Kale and other leafy greens (cabbage,spinach,collards), are nutrient rich and full of vitamins and can be prepared several different ways.
Plain Yogurt, you can mix in various things to change it up such as honey and fruits. If you use greek yogurt you will have added protein.
Peanut Butter and other nut butters, a great protein source and heart healthy unsaturated fats
Eggs, Great protein source and full of other nutrients.
Oatmeal (old fashioned oats) Heart healthy and helps lower bad cholesterol.
Final Thoughts on Money
It is time to prioritize what is important and to budget, budget,budget! There will be things that you cannot get around spending money on and you need to allow room in your budget for these expenses. Just as you need to remember to allow for emergencies. Be smart about your money choices. Ask yourself do I really need Starbucks or can I make it myself at home. Check out these copycat recipes to try it at home. Pinterest is a great place to look to find copycat recipes, handy household money saving tips and more. You can do this with style and grace. After all military families are special. We can take on any challenge that is sent our way.
Just a few final tid bits on a possible government shutdown that we currently know:
Quality of life will be affected. There is no way around it.
There will be reduced support services on post as many civilian employees are furloughed. These services will vary from installation to installation.
Your soldier will still be at work but PCS’s, TDY’s, schools and training may be disrupted.
Death gratuities to those who die on active duty during this time would not be paid.
There will be various effects to healthcare on installations that may vary from installation to installation.
As previously stated, stateside commissaries would be closed.
What else can be done?
The time is ticking down but your voice is important! Let your elected officials know how you feel!
Find your representative HERE
Find your senator HERE
Click HERE to contact the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services
Want to contact the president or vice president? Click HERE
A follow up to this blog is- Government Shutdown and Military Families: What you need to know