For the second time this year, my wife and I have been furloughed!  We signed our furlough letters on the morning of October 1st.  As federal employees – Department of the Army Civilians – we lost six days of work and pay earlier this year due to the sequestration, and now we will lose more work and pay – undetermined at this time – because our elected leaders have failed to do their job.  While I could write multiple, lengthy, posts on my feelings about the politics behind it all and whom I feel is most to blame, that will not really solve anything, does not improve my retirement portfolio, or provide value to the readers of this blog.Department of the Army

Moreover, I am not interested in wading through numerous comments where readers hurl insults at those that may disagree with them and are only interested in communicating their point of view and have no interest in trying to understand that others might have different experiences or a different point of view. It is one of the reasons I largely avoid the comments section of most articles I read online.

The only thing I will say is that I am often disappointed in the attitudes about federal employees – that seems to have taken hold the last few years – by the general population. To listen to some of our politicians and to read through some of the commentary online, it would appear that we are the lowest form of scum, sucking the very life out of this economy and our country. Of course, I would disagree. Like most of the people I work directly with (approximately 18 people) in my office, I am prior service. In fact, I believe outside of two people, everyone in the office is a veteran, either serving 5,6,7+ years or retired after 20+ years of active duty service. In short, we have all been serving our military, in different capacities, for 20+ years total in most cases. Don’t underestimate the number of civilians behind the scenes that support the active duty military – that everyone rightly supports – in accomplishing our nation’s missions. Off of my soapbox now.

How will this furlough impact me and Mrs. SavvyJames? It really depends on the length of the furlough. Obviously, the longer the furlough, the greater the impact. Fortunately, we do have an established emergency fund, something I address on a regular basis on this blog, and I do receive an active duty pension…not enough in my humble opinion, but it is nice to have a source of passive income.

The bottom line for Mr. and Mrs. SavvyJames? We are going to be fine. We may need to make some adjustments to our expenses, particularly the longer the shutdown and furlough remain in place, but ultimately we will be okay. However, I know that there are federal employees out there, at lower pay grades (that don’t make a lot of money), perhaps single parents (reliant on one income), that will be severely impacted, even if it is a short period of time. These are good people doing important work for our country.

So SavvyReaders, will this shutdown and furlough impact you? If so, is your emergency fund in place? Do you know anyone that it does impact?

Blogger-in-Chief here at RetirementSavvy and author of Sin City Greed, Cream City Hustle and RENDEZVOUS WITH RETIREMENT: A Guide to Getting Fiscally Fit.


  1. I wonder why the government doesn’t have an emergency fund for these types of things?! 😉

    Sorry about this furlough and I’m one of many that do not believe federal workers are the scum. I do point fingers at the actual perp of this fiasco and they are a select few.

    • The government should absolutely have some type of emergency fund and be better prepared for something like this. Excellent point!

  2. Sorry you are so directly affected by this, James. I, thankfully am not directly affected and I am hoping for your family and so many others out there that this can be resolved quickly. I know you will be in a better position to handle a short term disruption to income based on your “fiscal fitness” than many other families out there.

    Best of luck to you and your family.

    • Thanks, my friend. My guess is that this will be short, maybe 5-6 days, and the impact will not be too great. However, as I noted in the post, it really does have the potential to seriously impact lower grade employees or those that rely on the one income. Unfortunately, there is this perception out there that federal employees are all lazy, making $100,000+ annually, living the high life off the teet of the American taxpayer. That simply is not the case.

      • Absolutely, I understand that perception is out there and it is unfortunate. Public workers in general (federal, state, and teachers) are getting beat up a bit recently and it is undeserved.

  3. Sorry to hear that. It’s gotta be tough with the whole household furloughed. Hope you get back to work soon.

    • Thanks, my friend. Hopefully it will be a short period without too much disruption.

  4. Thanks for proving the point that an emergency fund is an absolute necessity. I’m sure you and your wife will pull through!

    • Thanks, my friend. No doubt we will be okay. I just wish there were more advocates for federal employees. As I noted, the people that will really suffer are those in the lower pay grades and/or single parents, trying to make it on one salary. The case for emergency funds and developing multiple streams of income cannot be overstated.

  5. It is truly sad that you have to go through this after years of dedicated service. I respect your decision to not hurl insults at whomever may deserve it.
    Will my wife and I be affected by the govt. shut down? No.
    As a self employed individual I’m blessed with the opportunity to create a significant amount of income in a short period of time & I’ll continue down that path. My wife and I are not big spenders & we have very little debt.
    It has been my strong belief, for quite a while now, that we should all do what we can to “insulate ourselves from the results of Washington’s actions”. This belief has led me to prepare for days like this much like you have, SavvyJames.
    So I’ll sit back in confidence, without fear, that my family will not only be ok, but we’ll thrive as a result of our Frugal Living.

    • Being prepared for anything is one of the ideas I try to communicate in this blog. One important way to do that is to establish an emergency fund. The other idea I try to communicate to readers is to develop multiple streams of income, preferably the portfolio and passive type, because you never know when one or more income streams (most often earned income) will be negatively impacted and out of your hands. If the furlough goes too long, I am going to have to push RENDEZVOUS WITH RETIREMENT…. really hard. However, at only $3.99 – of which I get 70% – a LOT of people would have to buy a book to make a difference. 🙂

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