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Cope with furlough cuts

By Sgt. Terika King | | July 25, 2013

Since the March 1 implementation of sequestration, thousands of government employees have been affected by the sweeping budget cuts to local, state and federal government agencies.
Employees in the Beaufort area are feeling the effects with furlough days (involuntary days off without pay), and are having to adjust household budgets drastically to adapt to the 20 percent decrease in pay.
Chuck Mathieu, personal financial manager at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island has received many requests from employees and family members who are affected by the loss of pay.
Mathieu has several tips to help families affected by the change in income:
1. Know what you’re dealing with by using a furlough pay estimator like the one at www.natick.army.mil under the furlough information link.
2. Develop a financial planning worksheet (a budget) and know exactly what your income is and where money is being spent. Contact the installation personal financial management section for free assistance.
3. Look at cutting out expenses by considering cheaper cable, cell phone and internet plans.
4. Avoid impulse buying by doing grocery shopping with a list and avoid filling in your time off with browsing at the mall.
5. Obtain and check your credit report for free at www.annualcreditreport.com
6. If you normally get a large tax return, consider adjusting your W-4 Tax Withholding to get the money in your monthly paycheck instead of waiting until the end of the year to get your own money back.
7. Consider a part time job for yourself or other family members that may be able to contribute.
8. Contact creditors who may be willing to extend payments or lower rates temporarily due to hardships.
9. Take steps to establish an emergency fund. If one does not already exist consider the 52-Week Money Challenge (see graphic). The cash envelope plan is another money saving tactic.
10. There are possible interest-free loans available through the Federal Employees Education and Assistance Fund (maximum $1,000). Application available at www.feea.org/GetHelp
The loss in income has forced some into taking second jobs or finding part-time work wherever they can, said Dale Wilkes, personal financial manager at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.
According to Mathieu, many went to see the financial planner when the furloughs were first announced, but the impact on their lives had some coming back to reevaluate the previous plan.
“People are concerned about next year and the uncertainty of continued furloughs,” said Mathieu.
Mathieu advocates that even with all the resources available, keeping a positive attitude and getting the family on board with the new budget and cost cutting techniques as well as soliciting their saving ideas would be helpful.
For more financial advice or information, contact Dale Wilkes at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort 228-7055, or Chuck Mathieu at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island 228-2218 or visit www.mccssc.com.