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Shutdowns, Furloughs, Strikes and Layoffs: Emergency Preparedness for the Government Worker


Emergency preparedness is all over the news these days in our area, urging people to be ready for a natural disaster or other type of catastrophe. Of course preparing yourself for natural disasters is wise advice; however the type of emergency that more often faces government workers these days is a sudden loss of income. Whether it’s a federal government shutdown, planned furloughs, strikes or layoffs, having your income suddenly cut is the type of emergency faced more often by govies. Having some plans in place can get you through having your income drastically cut for a period of time as well as ease the anxiety that goes along with it.

You can start today to get your planning together for the next furlough. Putting together a file or notebook of information will be a great reference you will turn to right away when the time comes. Start out by making note of your major creditors and contact information. If you can take the time in advance to find out what to do for a temporary interruption in income, add that to your reference. Some of the most important creditors to contact are mortgage companies, auto financing, and insurance.

Second, start thinking about where you might get information if you are suddenly away from work. How would you know if there is something that affects you? How would you hear about progress on the situation? In many cases, labor unions can be a source of the most up to date information. Find your way to the websites for the unions that serve people in your agency. Even if you are not a union member, the information is well researched and generally very current. For the most up to the minute information, sign up for the union’s text messaging service or follow their Twitter feed. Another great way to plan ahead for work interruptions is to print a list of your Outlook contacts. Most of us don’t have access to our network when we are away from work. If you print a list of your contacts and bring it home, you will have information you need to reach anybody in your network. This can be valuable information if you find yourself looking for new employment.

Third, start putting together your “furlough fund”. Everybody says to save money for a rainy day, but it isn’t always that easy. There are some tricks to make saving money a lot easier though. Some people put away every five-dollar bill they come across. Getting serious about coupon clipping can not only save you money but even give you extra products to sell or trade. Putting away all the unexpected windfalls you receive over the course of a year is another easy way to save. Find ten bucks in the dryer? Put it in the fund! Buying gift cards for yourself is also a good way to plan ahead for the future. Gas and grocery cards are an excellent place to start, as are prepaid Visa and MasterCard. Just make sure your cards do not expire. Don’t overlook buying a few gift cards for entertainment and fun for your emergency fund either. You will certainly appreciate having a nice restaurant meal or taking your kids to a movie without worrying about spending money on non-essential items.

Finally, give some thought to what you might do with your time if you were suddenly off work. Once you have gotten over your binge-watching, then what? Filling your time with positive, planned activities can go a long way in helping you manage your anxiety during a stressful time and help you make the best of a bad situation.

What tips do you have for getting through a work interruption? Comment below!

Brenda Dennis is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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Francesca El-Attrash

Thanks for this Brenda, so helpful! I definitely like the idea of a “furlough fund” to help prepare in advance. Additionally, I’ve heard it’s a good time to get out and catch up with things you can’t do when you’re working, like see the dentist, get that annual physical, etc.