After several weeks of discussion, there appears to be a clearer target for many Department of Defense civilian employees regarding furlough as a consequence of the sequestration of funds that went into effect earlier in the year. These employees are now looking at 11 days of unpaid leave through the end of September.
This is half the number of furlough days in the DoD's original plan, which is some comfort, but it's still a little bit more than a full biweekly paycheck that won't be hitting their bank accounts. For most, this isn't just pocket change.
But the good news is that overall there's still time to get ready for a reduction in income. This preparation is not just financial, but also psychological. Being in the right mindset entering a lean period can make quite a bit of difference. It's not the whole issue, but it sure is a good start.
Here are a few suggestions that might help you to get into a productive mindset in advance of a furlough:
- You still have a job. This is arguably the most important observation to make. By definition, a furlough is not loss of a job. It is a “temporary non-work, non-pay” status. The paychecks may be less for a while, but the paychecks are still there. This is an opportunity to be thankful.
- Don't panic. Referring back to the fact that you still have a job, there is little reason to abandon all hope. There is time for a gradual approach to shore up your finances. There is time to find the low-hanging fruit: those superfluous expenses that “just happen” and add little to your enjoyment.
- Your job isn't everything. There's health. There are friends. There's family. There's your faith. There's (fill in the blank).
- The days off are opportunities. The law is very explicit: employees must not work on their furlough days. This leaves the opportunity open to do something productive: to work on a Plan B, or to learn something that they otherwise wouldn't.