No. of Recommendations: 6
My leave and earnings statement arrived for the partial pay period ending on September 30. I don't actually get paid until Friday, but now I know the amount I'll receive. It's 60 percent of a pay period, so approximately 60 percent of a paycheck. (Not quite because of deductions that are at a flat dollar amount rather than a percentage.)

I save about 20% of every paycheck, so it's easy to zero that out and get halfway there. Then the decisions become harder. The mortgage is 40% of every paycheck -- can't really reduce that one. So I'm left to figure it out in all the smaller things that I pay for every month.

Nothing goes into the clothing folders for me and DD, obviously. Nor does anything go into the entertainment, gifts, eating out, and vacation folders. Now I'm three quarters of the way there. And now it's down to the hard stuff. Reduce the amount that goes into groceries. We'll be eating boring stuff, but for a few weeks we can do that. Reduce the amount that goes into the utilities folders -- there's enough in the natural gas folder to last for three or four months, and the electricity season is winding down. I hope. The new heat pump will change that balance, but I don't know exactly how yet.

In two weeks, when there will be no paycheck at all if we're still furloughed, I'll start allocating from my savings instead of from a paycheck. Looks like the "easy" minimum -- where all required payments are made and we still have food and utilities -- is about 63% of my paycheck.

This is where I become very, very grateful for the financial wisdom of this board, and the discipline I've used on my budgets over the years. With existing funds and absolutely no unusual expenses (obviously not possible over any length of time), there is cash to cover 28 pay periods, or just over a year. Thank goodness. But I really wish that the house remodel was scheduled to start next year, rather than being almost done. That would really feel like a nice cushion.

DH, whose accounts are separate from mine because of the two households we maintain, is in a slightly better situation. His reserves will carry him for 30 pay periods, or 60 weeks. There are also some joint reserves as well, enough to last us another couple of months if it were needed.

Funny. A few weeks ago I would have said that a year of reserve funds was great and we were sitting pretty. Now, it seems like it's plenty for this furlough, but not nearly enough if other bad things happen on top of it.

And it also makes me realize just how much it is costing us to live separately. Sigh. DH is the one who will move (when his youngest graduates from high school in 18 months; we decided years ago that we wouldn't uproot the kids) and he is doing everything he can to network and find a job in this area. However, his entire agency is basically furloughed right now, and even before that he was really having a hard time making contacts in this area, even though their headquarters is less than 15 miles from my house.

ThyPeace, grateful for the e-fund, the f-fund, the college savings that haven't been put into a 529, and all the other pots of money that are available.
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As someone who has had 17 different contracts and employers over a 7 year period, the most important thing is to not panic. Don't make decisions out of fear. As I understand it, if you work directly for the government, you will get repaid in full when Congress finally passes a budget. The news is not so good for contractors or external workers whose jobs are affected by the shutdown unless their employers offer some kind of compensation for the forced unpaid vacation.

Fuskie
Who was furloughed from his government contract last April as a result of sequester...
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Can you apply for Unemployement? I remember years and years ago my dad, a federal worker, did this during a government shut down.

Here's an article about federal workers furloughed in Alabama being eligible:

http://www.al.com/business/index.ssf/2013/10/furloughed_fede...
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As I understand it, if you work directly for the government, you will get repaid in full when Congress finally passes a budget.

Actually, only those Federal employees who are currently being required to work without pay will receive their checks when Congress passes a budget. ("Essential" is actually not the right term -- the correct term is "excepted", as in "excepted from the requirements of the Antideficiency Act."*) It will take a separate act of Congress to pay workers who have been sent home to wait out Congress's debates about how and when and what to fund.

It is worth noting, however, that all Federal employees are subject to recall at any time and may be found to be AWOL (absent without leave) if they do not report when recalled. So no trips to visit faraway family or to take a nice vacation. If you decide to go hunting, better take your cell phone with you and hope you get service. If you decide to get another job, better be ready to quit it on a moment's notice -- or give up your Federal job just as fast if you've found something better.

unemployment

Federal employees who have been furloughed are allowed to apply for unemployment benefits. However, if they are paid after the fact, they will have to return any unemployment benefits they receive in the interim. In 1995, this created chaos for many families that applied, then had to wait several weeks for the application to be processed, went back to work in the meantime, and then got an unemployment check. My colleagues tell me it took months to straighten out all the pay issues that arose out of that mess, and I assume it will be no better this time -- it's been too long for many of the lessons learned then to carry over to today.

Nonetheless, DH and I will likely apply for benefits if this drags on much longer. Of course, one of the requirements is that one must be actively looking for work, so I will at that point also shift into looking for another job.

ThyPeace, updating the private sector resume is on the to-do list, yep.






*From the formal Office of Personnel Management guidelines:

1. Who are “excepted” employees?

A. In the context of shutdown furloughs, the term “excepted” is used to refer to employees who are funded through annual appropriations who are nonetheless excepted from the furlough because they are performing work that, by law, may continue to be performed during a lapse in appropriations. Excepted employees include employees who are performing emergency work involving the safety of human life or the protection of property or performing certain other types of excepted work. Agency legal counsels, working with senior agency managers, determine which employees are designated to be handling “excepted” and “non-excepted” functions. See http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay- leave/furlough-guidance/#url=Shutdown-Furlough for copies of OMB and DOJ issuances, which provide guidance on the application of these criteria.
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You should apply for unemployment immediately unless you don't want it. You can't claim "back" benefits and there is a one week waiting period before you can collect anything.

If you're overpaid, call them and tell them you need to amend your claim to reflect additional wages received. Then you'll get a notice of overpayment in the mail and can mail back whatever you need to return.
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It's flu-season. Since you're not able to go to work, let any working friends with children know you could babysit during the day if they're in a pinch - such as with a stuffy kid who can't go to daycare. That's one small way to try and bring in some income while you're home.
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As attractive as the prospect of spending the day with someone else's stuffy kid might be, IMO the "small income" potential is too trivial in the context given for this to be the best use of a Federal employee's time.
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IMO the "small income" potential is too trivial in the context given for this to be the best use of a Federal employee's time.

Maybe I'm just reading this wrong, but there is something about this phrase that sets my teeth on edge. There is nothing about being a Fed employee that guarantees a skill set. The government is a very large employer, and people with all sorts of skills and levels of experience work for it. There is no magic about it.

It's the individual that matters in calculating whether an activity is a good use of time, not where they work.
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There is nothing about being a Fed employee that guarantees a skill set.

Very true, good catch. I was thinking of my Federal-employee neighbors, who have advanced degrees, top-notch skills, and decades of experience.
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ThyPeace, did you hear about the Shutdown Startup Temp Board?

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AkvTcK4mhHhjdHR...

See also https://www.unfurlough.us/

--------------

Many of these people are highly skilled. Conveniently, there are many startups in the D.C. area who need a highly-skilled person with a few hours on his or her hands. And it was this pairing of needs that inspired Tom Clark to create a Google spreadsheet, on which those looking for work and those looking for workers could be matched.

Last week, Clark built and released the Shutdown Work Board, which consists of one page of instructions, one page where employers can post work, and one page for workers to post their qualifications. As the front page warns, "There is NO vetting process for the types of positions/projects listed here and there is NO vetting process for the candidates seeking temporary work." In other words: This is just a platform—from here it's up to you.


fascinating how quickly communities come together. It's a whole new view on "workforce mobility." Or "Freelance Nation". In either case, I hope these links will be helpful.
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As attractive as the prospect of spending the day with someone else's stuffy kid might be, IMO the "small income" potential is too trivial in the context given for this to be the best use of a Federal employee's time.

A couple months ago a fiend of mine in FB in another state was looking for a last-minute day babysitter since her child was running a fever and couldn't go to daycare, and she couldn't miss work that day. She was paying $15/hour.

$120 to watch one kid for a day - might be "small income" to you - but might not be bad for someone who has no income at all coming in. And I'm not sure what you mean by "best use of a Federal employee's time" since we're talking about people who aren't currently going to work - so odds are nothing they're doing during the day is bringing in income.
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the best use of a Federal employee's time.

The best use of a Federal employee's time, in my mind, is at their actual job. Barring that, we are all in the situation of finding a second-best alternative. For the last two weeks, the alternative for me has been furthering my skills in the job I have by finishing up a work-related course I've been taking and by spending a day shadowing a non-Federal colleague. I have also done a huge number of home-related chores related to the remodel of my house (as well as just stuff-that-needed-doing), and have tried to be a little more healthy and balanced in my lifestyle than I am when I'm working.

In the near future (like today), I'll start looking for things to do that bring in money. Thanks to all who have suggested options; I plan to look into several of them. I do have to note that I'm better at organizing people's offices and pantries than I am at babysitting sick kids, though.

And for those Federal employees who are reading along, remember to check with your ethics folks (who will probably have to be called back from furlough to talk to you) about outside employment that may conflict with Federal ethics standards. Here's a web site that covers the basics, but remember that your ethics folks are the best place to get specific answers for your situation:

http://www.oge.gov/Topics/Outside-Employment-and-Activities/...

ThyPeace, yes, we are still covered by the ethics rules, the Hatch Act, and various other laws even though we're not allowed to go to work.
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On the subject of that work-related course and ethics, if it's paid for by work, are you allowed to work on it?

Fuskie
Who wonders what will happen when China sends debt collectors to the USA, or will they outsource to Uncle Guido...
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Fuskie,

You wrote, Who wonders what will happen when China sends debt collectors to the USA, or will they outsource to Uncle Guido...

I'm pretty sure they'll just outsource it to an Indian call center... ;-)

- Joel
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On the subject of that work-related course and ethics, if it's paid for by work, are you allowed to work on it?

It's a good question. The work-related course has been a hybrid all along, with classes occurring during work time and study occurring mostly during non-work time. Since I'm studying, I'm asserting that it's non-work time and therefore legal. Alternatively, I guess it could be considered civil disobedience, but I'm not enough of an expert on civil disobedience to really know for sure. If I ever get prosecuted for studying when I wasn't supposed to be, well, I'll try to write to y'all from jail. While I keep studying because I'm determined to finish this stuff.

ThyPeace, halfway through Chapter 8.
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To me the question is whether the courses are self-funded or employer paid. If the latter, then you can't work on them, even to study because it's an official government activity. But if you paid for the classes and were simply taking them on government time, then I don't think there's any risk.

Fuskie
Who cautions he is not a lawyer or familiar with federal employment law...
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That's certainly an element, Fuskie, but probably not the deciding factor. You would need to be a government ethics specialist who is well-versed in shutdown decisions to really figure it out. I have some ideas about how it could be interpreted, but really don't know what the final decision would be. Which is why I don't plan on asking.

ThyPeace, halfway through Chapter 9 (out of 14).
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Cross your fingers, by tomorrow it might be a moot point.

Fuskie
Who is waiting to see what the Senate has worked out and whether the House will be able to support it...
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I am hoping that this is resolved soon. I admit, though, that I have not missed work. I miss the people I work with, whom I respect and admire more than I can say. But not nearly as much do I miss the work itself, which had driven me (or I had driven myself using it) to utter exhaustion. The second week, when I finally relaxed, was really a surprise. So this is what I actually should feel like. This is who I actually am...

ThyPeace, and it will only take one workday to wind me back up.
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It sounds like a temporary deal, we'll be doing this all over again in January.....
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Well, Federal employees have been doing brinksmanship planning for years now. Our drills have gotten pretty good, though I'm sure that when I return, I will learn of many areas where we needed to be even better. That's one reason (of only a few) that I wish I had worked for at least the first few days. Since much of the planning for this stuff is work that my group does, I would like to have been there to observe first hand what worked and what didn't. I hope my colleagues kept some notes on what they had to fix on the fly.

ThyPeace, in a moment of irrational exuberance, bought Halloween candy and some school stuff that DD has been wanting today.
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LLRinCO,

You wrote, It sounds like a temporary deal, we'll be doing this all over again in January.....

Right.

01/15/2014: Government shuts down (again)
02/07/2014: Debt ceiling is reached (maybe)

Set your calendar for Government Shutstorm 2014!

- Joel
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The gov then will not pay out tax refund on time then. I'm seriously thinking of going exempt till then end of the year and not hold any taxes out.
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401kinvestor,

You wrote, The gov then will not pay out tax refund on time then. I'm seriously thinking of going exempt till then end of the year and not hold any taxes out.

Not overpaying the government is usually a good idea even without an impending Shutstorm™!

- Joel
Who's been working hard to over-pay the government this year... ;-)
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The gov then will not pay out tax refund on time then. I'm seriously thinking of going exempt till then end of the year and not hold any taxes out.

This is a path to financial problems. Especially for someone who has a complicated relationship with money.

Minimize your refund by adjusting your withholding to be as close to your anticipated taxes as possible. Don't create a problem for yourself because Washington is stupid.
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I am glad to report that I was unable to post during the day today because I was working.

Things at work are roughly normal. Our normal is a bit different than some people's definitions -- no one died and all the property damage is repairable. So I think the limits of the Antideficiency Act were well served. There are major, major impacts to the overall agency, though, and the staff we serve (who do the actual mission work) are beyond frustrated no matter whether they were furloughed or excepted.

The major wave of work associated with our return has not quite made it to my door. I have several data calls and actions, but next week I can see it will really heat up. Today's goals were just to account for everyone (still missing one), start giving them information about when and how they'll be paid, start getting non-life and property contracts and activities back up and running, and start collecting all the signed acknowledgements of furlough notices.

ThyPeace, does what they call the "business" side of the work. As opposed to the "technical" side.
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" does what they call the "business" side of the work."

Yup - I have my employees signed furlough notices on my desk right now. Don't forget, "if the employee refuses to sign, annotate the form to document the conversation, sign and date."

None of my employees refused to sign, but yes, some people do refuse.
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We ended up being told we didn't have to retain the signed letters. So we're keeping the ones we had already collected but not worrying about the (hundreds) more that we would have to collect to be complete.

ThyPeace, because they furloughed everyone on Columbus Day.
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