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How to Conserve Your Money if You’ve Been Furloughed

Kate Furlong
Wavebreak Media

Wavebreak Media


Since the government shut down on Oct. 1, many federal employees have been furloughed, meaning they are in a position where they are being forced not to work and, as a result, are not collecting a paycheck.

Although in past government shutdowns, many employees have been retroactively compensated for income lost during the furlough, there is no guarantee that will happen and even if it does, it still leaves hundreds of thousands of Americans without an income for the time being.

If you are experiencing the consequences of the furlough of government employees and are looking for ways to conserve your cash while you wait for Congress to figure out a solution, here are some tips.

1. Pause your subscriptions.

If you have any recurring monthly bills that can be put on hold temporarily, now may be the time to do that. Use bill and account management service Manilla.com to review any of your monthly bills that you consider extraneous. These include accounts like Netflix, your newspaper subscription, or even parts of your cable bill that you may not ordinarily consider cutting. Cancel or put these on hold to reduce your fixed expenses.

2. Don’t forget the little things.

If you’ve had an unseasonably warm fall, you may still be running your air conditioning when it’s not really necessary or, with your extra time off, you may be driving around getting errands done. As a result, your utilities and gas bills may be higher than usual. Make an effort to unplug things you’re not using, turn off lights and conserve gas where you can. Since you can track your bills in one place with Manilla, monitoring your bills and balances is easy to do all year round.

3. Cut back on extra food spending.

This goes without saying, but you can save a lot of money by cooking at home instead of dining out. When you’re busy working, it can be tempting to order in, but now that you have some time off, make a point to get a meal plan in place, buy generic labels, shop grocery store sales and clip coupons. You’ll be surprised at how much you can save when you start paying attention to prices and take a little time to plan ahead. Plus, the money you spend at the grocery store will last a lot longer than any meal you buy when eating out.

4. Revisit your emergency fund.

Whether you have been furloughed or have feared that this could happen to you, let it serve as a great reminder about the importance of having an emergency fund. Having cash in the bank to cover short periods of loss of income is key to being able to ride out a storm. Being able to use the cash to cover everyday bills while money is tight allows you to avoid incurring credit card debt and once your income returns, you can build your emergency fund back up.

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