After a historic 35 days, the federal government shutdown finally ended. For now, at least. If you’re a federal employee heading back to work, you’re likely wondering—when will I get paid and what can I do to rebound from the shutdown?
Federal employees were finally paid on January 31, 2019. That’s only for employees who work directly for the federal government. If you’re a contract employee—someone who works for a company with whom the federal government has a contract, then you won’t get back pay.
If you’re a federal employee or contractor, you’re probably wondering how to rebound from more than a month of not getting paid. You probably also have concerns about a potential shutdown on February 15. The good news is that there are plenty of resources out there to help you and your family.
Read on to learn about the resources available for federal employees who’ve been affected by the federal government shutdown.
Help with Credit Card and Cellular Payments
If you have credit cards, the thought of missing a payment is stressful. Try to pay the minimum at the least. If you can’t, call your credit card company as soon as possible to try and negotiate payments.
Banks like Wells Fargo, Citi and Capital One are all advertising relief options for furloughed workers. Some are even offering increased credit limits to help federal employees pay for day-to-day items like food and gas.
As with credit card companies, major cellular companies like AT&T, Verizon and Sprint are advertising payment options for furloughed federal employees.
Help with Rent and Mortgage
There’s no doubt that the federal government shutdown has had an impact on people’s ability to pay their rent. In just 35 days, federal employees racked up over $400 million in unpaid rent and mortgage bills. The best thing for renters to do is to negotiate with their landlords to arrange for later or reduced payments.
Most mortgage lenders are willing to work with federal employees to help them avoid late fees, negative credit reporting and foreclosure. The key is to call sooner rather than later.
If your landlord or mortgage company is reluctant to provide relief, try sending them a letter utilizing sample language from the federal government. Be sure to also draw up an agreement to document what you’ve agreed to and have your creditor sign it.
Getting around may seem impossible if you don’t have money for gas or your car payment. Thankfully, most lenders are working with furloughed employees, so they don’t miss a payment or get their car repossessed.
As for gas? Many local gas stations are offering promotions where federal employees can fill up for free or discounted rates. Check out your local news station to see if any stations near you are doing a similar promotion.
In the worst case scenario, you can always apply for a credit card like the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card to help you recover from the furlough without being trapped at home.
Putting Food on the Table
There’s no uniform service available to help recently furloughed workers put food on the table. Many fast food chains, such as White Castle, are offering free food to government workers and their families.
Smaller restaurants, however, are leading the pack in providing free and discounted food. Dodo Pizza, based in Oxford, Mississippi, is offering a free large pizza to federal employees who bring in their government ID.
Not sure which restaurants in your area are offering specials? Check out your local news to find out what resources are out there for you.
Another option is your local food bank. Food banks provide food donated from individuals, grocery manufacturers, grocery stores and government agencies. Find a food bank in your area.
What about My Dog?
It’s enough to worry about feeding your family and paying your bills, but you also have to make sure your pets have full tummies, too. There is no national offer available to help federal employees feed their pets.
That said, many local businesses and organizations are providing food for all kinds of pets. For example, in California’s Bay Area, Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch is providing free food for pets of all kinds, and it will ship food to federal employees in Northern California too.
Short Term Jobs during the Government Shutdown
The best way to relieve financial stress left over from the government shutdown is to pick up a side gig where you can earn extra income that’s not dependent on the U.S. government.
Some quick and easy gigs to pick up include being a ridesharing driver for Uber or Lyft, delivering food for a company like Waitr or shopping for groceries on Instacart. If you’re feeling crafty, you can always try your hand at handmade creations for Etsy.
More of a caretaker? Try babysitting for friends and family. You can also work as a dog walker or pet sitter.
There are a lot of ways you can earn extra income both during and after a federal government shutdown. Don’t be afraid to try your hand at a couple if you’re struggling to make ends meet.
Have You Been Affected by the Government Shutdown?
Being furloughed is scary, especially when there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight and there may be a repeat soon. Thankfully, with the government getting back up and running, federal government employees get a little financial breathing room. Until February 15, anyway.
With all the options available for federal employees during the government shutdown, you shouldn’t worry about putting food on the table or gas in the tank. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, even if the creditor isn’t advertising special payment options. Don’t let something that’s out of your control have too big of an impact on your finances.