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Stupid government shutdown makes case for seeking financial independence

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Government shutdown will threaten workers' financesWith Republicans in Congress continuing to press for limitations to Obamacare as a condition of passing a budget and Democrats completely unwilling to agree to anything like that, we’re officially in a government shutdown.

Social Security checks will still go out, air traffic controllers will still scan the skies and American soldiers will continue to report for duty, but functions considered non-essential will be disrupted until a new budget is passed.

While that’s annoying for the rest of us who want to apply for a passport or look at panda bears live on the Internet, for the 783,000 federal government workers who will probably be told not to come to work, it has the potential to cause real financial harm.

In general, Americans are pretty lousy at setting aside money for these types of unforeseen events. A survey in June found that 76 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, with less than 3 months’ worth of expenses saved up in case of emergencies.

So even though they didn’t have a hand in creating this crisis, it’s likely that lots of government workers will find themselves paying the consequences, borrowing to cover living expenses while Congress, with its awesome 9 percent approval rating, tries to get its act together and pass a budget.

To me, these types of situations really highlight the benefits of working toward financial independence. Sure, most people will never reach full financial independence where they can just sit back, sip umbrella drinks and cash dividend checks.

But independence is a matter of degrees; minimizing your monthly overhead and building a cushion of savings or even better, regular cash flows from investments, can help insulate you from the stupidity of those higher up the food chain. And God knows, in both government and business, there’s plenty of that.

What do you think? Have you ever faced a situation where higher-ups’ ineptitude hurt your finances?

(Photo: Bryan Mills)

{ 7 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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7 Responses to “Stupid government shutdown makes case for seeking financial independence”

  1. dojo says:

    Such events are exactly the reason I preach ‘stay off debt or pay it off and save as much as you can’. I was laid off 4 years ago and I was actually lucky to start a business from my hobby and be successful. Most my ex-colleagues STILL struggle now, after 4 years.

    I feel sorry for all the people who are being affected by this, let’s hope they’ll be able to make it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Dojo: Totally agree.

  3. Nicole says:

    My husband is one of the government employees getting to stay home today. We have been trying to pay down debt while at the same time build an emergency fund. We have been able to save for 1 month of bills. I have been working a second job to help with debt but now it will go towards next months bills. I’m hoping we don’t have to go longer than a month with out a paycheck. When he gets to go back to work I’m going to put whatever I can into the emergency fund first.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Nicole: Seems like you’ve been doing a lot to prepare for this sort of emergency … good for you and good luck. I hope this gets sorted out soon.

  5. Claes says:

    Nicole: Seems like you’ve been doing everything you can to prepare for this type of contingency. Good job, and good luck … hope this all gets sorted out soon.

  6. Meagan says:

    @nicole – that stinks! Good luck to you and your family! I hope that if my family ever had to face a furlough, we would be able to handle it like you.

  7. Huskervball says:

    There was a reporter on NPR this morning who had covered the previous shut down. She said that this event is different in that we are arguing not only about $$ but also about philosophy. The last time the only argument was about money.

    My heart goes out to the hard working government employees who are caught in this mess. Hang in there, Nicole, I pray that all works out well for you.

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