Furloughs require a budget

| July 5, 2013 | 0 Comments

Justin Creech, Army News Service

Beginning July 8, Department of Defense civilians will see a 20 percent reduction in their salaries due to the start of the federal government furlough.

Broken Piggy Bank

Broken Piggy Bank

In order to deal with the loss in wages, basic money management tips should be followed by DOD civilians and their families to handle their funds until the furlough is over.

“The first thing people need to do is have a budget,” said Erica Drame, Army Community Service Financial Readiness Program manager. “If you currently do not have a budget and you are not doing the necessary financial management steps, how are you supposed to manage the reduced money you are going to be getting?”

Continuing to put money in their savings accounts, talking to creditors about reducing monthly credit card and car payments, or deferring payments and using local charities are key ways DOD civilians can manage their finances during the furlough.

“If you have a good credit history, call the creditor and see what kind of arrangements you can make,” said Drame. “Maybe they will reduce your monthly payment. You might be pleasantly surprised at what your creditor is willing to do because you are a government employee.”

Drame said people need to keep in mind during the furlough that they can’t maintain their current lifestyles with the reduction in salaries.

“You have to be proactive with your situation because you still have to pay your bills during the furlough,” said Drame. “A lot of people are going to try to maintain what they are doing, when they could have just called their creditor and their creditor might have been willing to give them a break.”

One option DOD civilians can use during the furlough is the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund. DOD civilians need to have been with the federal government for at least one year to qualify and fill out an application on FEEA.org.

FEEA will give out interest-free loans up to $1,000.

“This is the civilian (version of the Army Emergency Relief) fund,” said Drame. “They provide no interest loans up to $1,000 for those people experiencing certain types of hardships. Examples are loss of income, death in the employee’s immediate family, separation and divorce. It won’t be more than $1,000, but it’s definitely money that will help.”

Soldiers and DOD civilians also should not worry about having to pay back accruing interest with their bills if they have to reduce credit card or car payments, according to Drame, since the furlough is only supposed to last a few months.

“If it’s a three-month furlough, we should be able to get halfway through it without truly needing assistance,” said Drame. “So, three months of working with your creditor isn’t going to put you behind the eight ball.”

Drame also believes everyone needs to keep in mind that each person who is furloughed may handle the stress of that differently.

“Be mindful of people experiencing furlough issues,” said Drame. “If someone seems like they’re in a bad mood, it may be because they are experiencing issues from the furlough.”

(Editor’s Note: Creech writes for the “Belvoir Eagle” at Fort Belvoir, Va.)

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