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Stupid government shutdown makes case for seeking financial independence

With 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 [3], for the 783,000 federal government workers who will probably be told not to come to work [4], 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 Bankrate.com 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 [5] 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)