Financial Blog

Personal Finance

All work, no pay, and limited options

These past few weeks government workers have been desperately waiting for a reprieve as we experienced the longest government shutdown in American history.  Meanwhile, some 800,000 government workers have been trying to figure out when a spending bill will be passed that will allow them to return to work or, at the very least, receive a paycheck without zeros. It’s not just federal employees’ paychecks that have been affected, however; National Parks are understaffed, Social Security offices are closed, and federal airport staff (Air Traffic Controllers and TSA Agents) are working with bare-minimum personnel. While it appears that the shutdown has reached a temporary end, the funding is only approved through February 15th., so it’s entirely possible that this happens all over again in the middle of February. In the meantime, federal workers are left scrambling to figure out what their options are in order to pay their rent, health, and auto insurance premiums, child care, and utility bills.

 

How will the government shutdown affect my ability to pay bills? 

Most federal employees will continue to receive health benefits during the shutdown, but contractors who have independent health insurance plans still need to pay premiums out-of-pocket, with no money coming in. Sure, the government has assured most employees that they will receive full back-pay as soon as the shutdown ends, but this is not the case for everyone affected. Contractors and subcontractors will likely see no back pay and are being forced to search for other income options to make ends meet. 

Credit card companies (as well as some other agencies) will often negotiate payment options during tough times, but there are bound to be financial institutions who are much more rigid and need to be paid promptly. Government workers affected by the shutdown have options to help alleviate some of the financial strain, although every individual situation will dictate what those options entail. Gig work and unemployment benefits can help those affected by the shutdown, but there are numerous restrictions and limitations.

While gig work (driving for Uber, Lyft, Postmates, etc., or freelance projects in one’s field) is increasing in popularity among Americans, a second job is simply not an option for many government workers. Federal employees are still bound by government ethics and conflict of interest policies, furloughed or not, and this also limits the scope of side work available. Many contractors and subcontractors that have been furloughed are contractually not allowed to perform freelance side work and are forced to rely on unemployment benefits. 

 

You have options to help you get through the tough times!

With all of the doom and gloom surrounding the government shutdown, all hope is not lost!  Many Americans (and folks from all over the world) are helping out federal employees affected by the shutdown. Communities are coming together to help aid those in need (financial or otherwise), and many have offered temporary positions for furloughed federal workers. Some restaurants and other businesses are offering discounts or even, in some cases, free items to those affected by the shutdown. There is a story that’s been circulating about Canadian Air Traffic Controllers buying pizza for their American counterparts in a display of solidarity and friendship. 

 

Unemployment benefits… know what lies ahead

The problems experienced by government employees not receiving an income are numerous, but there are options available to those in need of cash to get through the shutdown. One option is to apply for unemployment benefits. Federal employees who are “excepted,” or as they are more commonly referred, “critical,” are working through the shutdown with no pay, and are not eligible for unemployment benefits.  Furloughed federal employees, however, are eligible to file for unemployment benefits. California Governor Gavin Newsom has even ordered the Employment Development Department to streamline the process of applying for Unemployment Insurance benefits for federal employees affected by the shutdown. Be careful, though, as these benefits will likely need to be paid back upon the government shutdown ending. Read the fine print and check with local government agencies for more information pertaining to your individual situation.  

 

Communicate with those whom you owe money

Another option to help alleviate some of the financial strain is to contact those whom you owe money and ask for amnesty or a reprieve on what is due during the government shutdown. This can be tricky; however, as the willingness of these companies to work with those that are financially strapped can vary greatly, and the range of the help offered can be unpredictable.  Be patient and pay close attention, as there will likely be options offered that could involve penalties or additional interest charges.  

 

Personal loans as a possibility for financial relief

A personal loan is another option that can help alleviate cash strain. Personal loans can be used to pay bills, insurance premiums, or make car payments. The money is yours to do as you see fit. They are not just for emergencies, either. Personal loans can also be used to take vacations or purchase goods with an interest rate that is much lower than the typical credit card. The personal loans that we offer here at LoanMe are processed quickly and can be tailored to suit your needs.  We provide lending at affordable rates, and you can potentially have cash-in-hand in a matter of hours. Our loans are flexible and can be repaid at any time, as there are no prepayment penalties.  Contact one of our specialists today to learn more about our affordable personal loan options. We’d love to help!