Financial tips for surviving the government shutdown

On Friday, nearly 800,000 federal workers will miss their second paycheck since the partial government shutdown started more than a month ago. According to a career survey almost 80 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.

Certified Financial Planner and CBS News business analyst Jill Schlesinger shared some financial tips for federal workers struggling to get by as the shutdown persists — with no end in sight: 

Assess your necessary bills 

First, put aside the money you need for the very basic, non-negotiable costs for things like food and medicine. If you don’t have money to set aside, figure out how much money you’ll need to cover these costs. 

Call your creditors

Call everyone. Make sure you communicate with your creditors, including your utility company, student loan creditors, credit card company and even your landlord if you’re not a homeowner. See if they’ll stop the interest rate clock ticking, give you a break or waive any penalties you might incur. A number of big banks, including ChaseWells Fargo and Bank of America are offering to waive fees for overdrafts or insufficient funds for workers whose income has been disrupted by the shutdown. In short, don’t hide from your bills.

File for unemployment

In many cases furloughed workers are eligible to file for unemployment benefits. Check out this fact sheet for more details on how to file for unemployment and who is eligible. 

Don’t withdraw from retirement accounts

It might be tempting to withdraw from retirement accounts but you’ll be subject to penalties (if you’re under 59 ½ years old) and will also have to pay taxes on what you take out. Instead, look into borrowing against your retirement account. Federal law allows workers to borrow up to 50 percent of their Thrift Savings Plan account balance, with a maximum of $50,000.

Look into low- or no-interest loans

If you need to find a low- or no-interest loan, credit unions like Navy Federal Credit Union, USAA and US Employees Credit Union are offering them to furloughed federal workers. The Congressional Federal Credit Union offers a line of credit with a rate of 0 percent for the first 60 days. The rate on the remaining balance after that is 4 percent.

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