How your wallet can survive the gov’t shutdown
420,000 are working without pay
There’s no end in sight to the partial federal shutdown and, more distressing to federal workers, no paycheck in sight either.
The shutdown has furloughed 380,000 federal workers and forced an additional 420,000 to work without pay. President Donald Trump has said he is willing to keep the government closed for months or even years to get his demands met. But even if an agreement is reached and the government reopens, it could be some time before anyone earns a fresh paycheck or gets potential back pay.
It’s a burden that few American households can bear without strain. Some experts weigh in with tips on how to cope:
PRIORITIZE YOUR BILLS
Sit down and take a good look at what bills are due, or will be due soon.
Rank your obligations by importance in case you cannot meet them all. Mortgage and utility bills should top the list, followed by credit card payments and any other revolving debt. Consider making just the minimum payments on your credit cards for now. Then look at any other spending to figure out what is essential and what can be trimmed. Limit spending to musthave items only until pay resumes.
Contact the lenders for your mortgage, credit cards, auto loans and any other expenses to discuss your options.
The upside is that companies are aware of the situation and a number of them are offering help.
Chase, for one, has been automatically refunding overdraft or monthly service fees for customers who had direct deposit of federal government paychecks to savings and checking accounts since the shutdown began. It also is offering various hardship options for its auto, credit card and mortgage customers. AT&T said that it will waive late fees, provide extensions and otherwise work with customers on flexible payments for phone, internet and television service as long as the shutdown is in effect.
Several large banks, such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo, are also making their hardship programs available to federal workers and others hurt by the shutdown. The terms vary but typically include options for delayed payment, waived fees or loan modifications on various products. Smaller banks are taking steps as well: Oceanfirst Bank in New Jersey said it will grant forbearance or temporarily suspend mortgage payments for up to 90 days for borrowers whose income is affected by the shutdown.
But you must contact the companies to get any sort of assistance.
It’s time to find some money to tide you over.
Households without emergency savings should consider other sources of cash, such as selling assets, be it stock or unused items around the house. Other options include withdrawals from a Roth IRA, which are tax and penalty free; borrowing from cash value life insurance policies; or tapping a home equity line of credit.
Consider borrowing from family, if it isn’t too fraught with complications.
There are decent opportunities to borrow elsewhere as well. Some banks, such as Navy Federal Credit Union are offering certain customers affected by the shutdown a loan of up to $6,000 at 0 percent APR. Others, such as USAA, are offering low-interest loans to certain impacted workers. The American Federation of Teachers, a union that represents a number of federal government employees, is also offering interest-free loans for its impacted members.
Try and avoid riskier sources for money, such as raiding your retirement stash or college savings for the kids; the long-term negatives might not be worth the short-term relief. Avoid title loans or payday lending as the interest rates are exorbitant. While some use of credit cards is understandable, be aware that those balances may become due before your pay resumes.
You may be able to seek unemployment depending on your job and where you live. Unemployment rules are determined by state law, so whether you qualify is based the state you live in, said Tom Spiggle, founder of Spiggle Law Firm in D.C.
A word of warning: You’d be obligated to repay the state for any benefits you received if you are granted unemployment but later receive back pay.
GET A SIDE HUSTLE
Federal workers can find another paying job as long as there is no ethics rule or statute that prohibits it, Spiggle said. Some positions may prohibit you from doing related work but may allow you to do unrelated work.
The U.S. Coast Guard suggested employees hold garage sales or offer to babysit, walk pets or housesit to earn cash — tips that were perceived by many as tone-deaf and were later removed from a support program website. But sadly, it may come to that for many families. The flexibility and cash found through the gig economy may prove essential for some workers.
Barbara O’Neil, a financial planner and professor at Rutgers University, suggests workers should inventory their skill set and think about ways to convert those into an income stream.
However, time may be an issue for those working without pay. Spiggle said there has been some speculation that the TSA agents who called in sick were doing so to work other jobs to make ends meet. He warns that is an improper use of sick leave and could get a worker disciplined or even fired.
If you find you cannot get by, look into what public assistance is available. Call 211 or visit www.211.org to find out what human services programs are available in your community. Examples include SNAP — the supplemental nutrition assistance program — energy assistance and food pantries. Several food pantries nationwide have made themselves available for those individuals or families at risk of going hungry due to the shutdown.
TALK IT OUT
There is a sense of powerlessness to this situation that is frustrating for workers, said Dennis Nolte, vice president and financial planner at Sea Coast Investment Services in Florida. He recommends talking to friends or relatives or forming a group with co-workers to commiserate about uncertainty to help keep the stress in check.
Chamber to hand out awards at annual dinner
Yuma County Chamber of Commerce will honor local businesses and celebrate Growing Yuma during the Annual Dinner to be held at 6 p.m. Friday in the 3C Schoening Conference Center on the campus of Arizona Western College, 2020 S. Avenue 8 East.
It will be an evening of celebrating success, excellence and partnerships. The chamber will hand out several awards, including Small Business Person of the Year, Chamber Member of the Year, Athena International Award winner and Ambassador of the Year.
The chamber will also announce the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office Deputy of the Year and Corrections Officer of the Year. Plus, it will be rolling out two new categories: Chamber Champion and the Instagrammys.
The theme of “Growing Yuma” highlights the area’s agriculture, education, manufacturing, technology and military.
For more information, call the chamber at 928-7822567.
Special summit on brown wood rot set for Jan. 25
Growers and the public are invited to a special summit on brown wood rot, hosted by the University of Arizona, on Friday, Jan. 25, at 9:30 a.m.
Brown wood rot (Fomitopsis meliae) is a serious fungal pathogen affecting lemon trees in Yuma County and it has recently been found in Imperial County, Calif.
Speakers include Drs. Mike Matheron, Glenn Wright and Alex Hu of the University of Arizona, who will talk about past, current and future research on BWR, and Dr. Jeanette Rapivacoli of Syngenta Crop Protection who will discuss potential chemical controls for the disease.
Also, the seminar will include a roundtable discussion with the speakers, growers and all other interested participants to solicit additional research ideas that will lead to solutions to the BWR problem.
Arizona and California continuing education unit hours will be offered, and a free lunch will be provided.
The seminar will be held at the Yuma Agriculture Center, 6425 W. 8th Street, Yuma, AZ 85364.
There is no fee to attend, but please RSVP to Dr. Glenn Wright at 928-782-5876 or [email protected] ag.arizona.edu so that an accurate lunch count can be obtained.
Yuma Southwest Contractors Association will host “Building 2019’s Future Lunch and Learn” from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan.31, at the Hilton Garden Inn Pivot Point Conference Center, 310 N. Madison Ave.
Guest speakers from the construction community partners will highlight changes coming into effect for the 2019 year. Guests will include the Arizona Department of Transportation, APS, Arizona Western College, Arizona Registrar of Contractors, Yuma Building Safety and GENTECH.
The topics will include the new 2018 adopted building codes, ADOT project opportunities, Diesel Fuel: Standby Power and More, and a certified workforce
Lunch is included. The
Husband-and-wife team Dr. Mahesh Subbu and Dr. Sonal Subbu are joining the Yuma Regional Medical Center family effective Monday. Their practices, Yuma Children’s Clinic and Yuma Medical Clinic, will have a new name: YRMC Pediatrics and Internal Medicine.
However, patients will still see them and their staff at the same location: 2851 S. Avenue B, Suite 1201, Building 12. In addition, the phone numbers are not changing: 928-819-7000 (pediatrics) and 928-329-7000 (internal medicine).
The doctors, in a letter to their patients, noted: “Please be assured that while our name is changing, we will continue to provide the same high level of care to you and your family in the same location. We will continue to be enrolled with most commercial healthcare plans, as well as Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare. Our staff is always available to assist you with insurance questions ...
“We have cared for families in our community for many years and that commitment will continue. This change will allow us to truly focus on our wonderful patients while the business operations will be managed by YRMC. We value your continued trust in our care team and look forward to serving you.”
DR. MAHESH SUBBU and Dr. Sonal Subbu are joining the Yuma Regional Medical Center family. Patients will see them at the same location, but will notice a new name: Yuma Regional Medical Center Pediatrics and Internal Medicine.YSWCA hosting Lunch and Learn on 2019 changes Dr. Mahesh Subbu, Dr. Sonal Subbu join YRMC family