The government shutdown is over for the time being. Government workers are thankfully receiving paychecks again. However, the threat of the next government shutdown is less than a few weeks away. It’s a terribly uncertain time to work for Uncle Sam.
Your paychecks may not be reliant on the whims of the government, but the shutdown likely made you think about how you’d handle a similar financial hardship. Most Americans don’t have enough in savings to cover a $1,000 emergency, so missing a paycheck is a big deal.
Should you ever find yourself in the situation where your income isn’t coming in, we have five tips that may help ease the burden.
1. Be proactive. Call your vendors and stay in communication.
If you are unable to pay your bills, it can be really scary. You may even feel ashamed. Most people, when faced with the shame of falling behind on their bills, go into avoidance mode and that’s the last thing you need to do. Be proactive. Make the calls. Talk to people. Be honest about your situation. And update people when you need to.
2. Make a game plan.
Once your paychecks start coming back in, you’ll want to hit the ground running. Prioritize your finances and your past due bills. Write down a list of vendors, amounts due, and due dates so you can be focused and tackle what needs to be tackled right away.
3. Don’t overpromise. Give yourself time to pay things back.
Don’t try to over-promise right now. You’ll feel crummy later if you can’t quite deliver on the promises you make. You need to give yourself as much flexibility as possible once your paychecks start hitting your bank account again, so check with your vendors and creditors to see what kind of flexibility they can offer.
4. Ask for help. I know it can be really challenging.
At a retreat I attended earlier this month, we did some physically-challenging activities. Asking for help was encouraged, but we all shared how difficult that can be. That discussion led us to create a “safe word.” Someone would shout “Grace!” when they needed the group to stop or slow down, to take a break, or help in some way. Whatever word you want to use, there are organizations, people, churches, funds and assistance available to you. Do not be afraid or ashamed of asking for help organizations or resources that were created to help people in your situation.
5. Learn from this.
The best thing you can do when something bad happens is to ask yourself, “How can I prevent this going forward?” Now, you can’t possibly prevent a government shutdown, but you can be better prepared in case it (or something similar) happens again. In other words, can this unfortunate situation turn into a really great motivator? Could that be this gray cloud’s silver lining? It can. And you can feel proud and confident that you were more prepared when it does.
And finally, one bonus tip: Stay positive. I know, I know. It’s easier said than done. But I promise you, this too shall pass.
If you want tips on how to create a better safety net, check out our how to budget guide here. And don’t forget to follow the Fiscal Fitness Facebook page for more inspiration, tips and tricks for taking the stress out of money.