Confession time: I’m a bit of a control freak.
I get anxious whenever any aspect of my life is under someone else’s control. We’re a single income household, reliant on the Federal government for our paycheck, so this latest government shutdown has been a bit of a wake-up call about the need to get aggressive in building up our buffer.
Financial Uncertainty Leads to Fear and Frustration
I think anyone can understand the frustration and fear that comes with being reliant on a paycheck that might not come. Uncertainty in our finances can be super scary. This is why budgeting can be so relieving. Just having a plan for your money helps you focus on what you have instead of what you think is coming.
I have been stuck in this trap for longer than I care to admit, despite having a budget for almost a decade. I still got caught up spending with the assumption that the next paycheck would be there to cover things.
Until it isn’t.
Truly Unexpected or Just Another Failure to Plan?
I wish I could say this latest government shutdown falls into the category of “unexpected” but sadly, I think this is just another example of me failing to plan for the inevitable.
In my last post, I talked about emergency funds and if they were really necessary. Typically I think the advice of saving $1000 into an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses is inherently flawed and leaves wiggle room to overspend by not being intentional enough in your planning.
What I didn’t really address was the idea of the emergency fund being a 3-6 month buffer to guard against income loss. I still probably wouldn’t stick a huge lump sum in an “emergency fund” category, (I would prefer to actually budget that money out to future expenses, which you can do in YNAB), but it definitely should be a goal to save up for that scenario.
Embracing the Fear and Accepting the Challenge
Unfortunately for my budget, we do not have a massive amount saved up, so this shutdown hits us at a vulnerable time. We find ourselves in the position of needing to re-prioritize, yet again, and potentially pulling funds from various “inevitable expense” categories to cover our everyday expenses until the government re-opens.
Deep Breath Time
I have resolved to not freak out (anymore). I’m actually bright-siding this to see if I can turn it into a spending cut challenge. By canceling some appointments and getting creative in the kitchen I’m hoping to save enough to ride this out without raiding any other categories. With our rent and mortgage due soon, that may not be entirely possible, but in the spirit of going from broke, I’m embracing the challenge.
If You Need Help
For anyone else affected by the government shutdown and struggling to pay bills, make sure you contact your billers to see if you can get any late fees waived.
Also, Navy Federal is offering 0% APR loans to members to help cover expenses. While it doesn’t apply to everyone, you may be able to get some similar support from your financial institution. It’s worth a call if you need it.