Lessons From the Government Shutdown

We’ve now entered week two of the latest political melodrama. Someone recently posted an applicable African proverb: When elephants fight, the grass suffers. Regardless of your politics, we can all agree this shutdown is no picnic for hundreds of thousands of furloughed workers. The prolonged effects will start to adversely impact even more as businesses who support the government feel the pain and so forth. The shutdown is not good for the near term. However, we can and should extract a reminder from this latest and tangible lesson as to why we must protect ourselves financially. Do you have a system of saving in place?

Last week, 800,000 federal workers awoke to a disruption in a steady, timely, dependable income source. For many, I’ll wager this is the main or only source.  Yet, according to a Harvard Business study, half of Americans would have trouble locating $2000 cash within 30 days (including borrowing from family).

Having a savings fund is not optional. Even in the most stable of environments, those “good government jobs”, life can throw a financial monkey wrench without notice. Let’s allow the shutdown, or other company cutbacks or layoffs, to spur us to develop our system of saving. The ultimate goal is of course 3-6 months of expenses set aside for emergencies. That figure may be challenging to achieve overnight, but a small effort overtime beats no savings at all.

While federal employees hope their pay is restored soon and retroactive compensation offered, there is no guarantee. How would you handle that situation? With a savings cushion, your reaction can be a great deal less stressful.

I personally feel ire for the people who fight while the grass suffers. Some of those blades of grass are in my family. However, I’ve lived long enough to know that no job is guaranteed and despite your best efforts, projects fail. Given those odds, while the opportunity exists, saving for a politically rainy day is in your best interest. Get started today.

I’ve asked this question several times and I love the responses. So, I’ll continue it here. Finish this thought: Saving is…

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