Sequestration talks have federal government employees worried about the possibility of being furloughed.
A furlough is a (usually) temporary layoff. Since there is an upcoming deadline that could mean $85 billion in automatic spending cuts in two weeks, there’s the possibility that many federal employees will be missing some pay this year. This is called administrative, or planned, furlough.
One definite silver lining to a furlough
Though the prospect of a series of smaller paychecks (or a few missing ones) isn’t pleasant, there is one silver lining to those “furlough days.”
Furloughed federal employees cannot work. They generally can’t even volunteer their time. This is policy. It’s also policy that employees get 30 days’ notice before they’re furloughed.
So there’s time to plan.
Why is it a silver lining that federal employees aren’t allowed to work during the time they’re furloughed? Most people want to go to work, if for no other reason that it supports the rest of their activities and dreams.
It’s a silver lining because if you can’t work at your day job, you can work at a side job, build up a business, put in time to investing in yourself.
Basically, it’s an opportunity to dip your toe in the water to try out your Plan B.
Effective use of a furlough
Here are five tips to making the best of a planned time without regular work and pay:
- Take stock. If you’ve heard from your agency about how long the furlough will be, when, etc., that’s great! If you haven’t, then estimate. Short-term furloughs are 22 workdays or less.
- Estimate or calculate the reduction in pay. This gives you an idea of what your paychecks will look like during the furlough. (Another minor silver lining: If, for example, the furlough is one day per week and you do nothing to adjust your withholding, your paycheck probably won’t decrease the full 20%, because you’re having a smaller percentage withheld.)
- Adjust budgets accordingly. Again, there’s time to plan, so take advantage of the advance warning.
- Plan what you’ll do on the days you don’t go to work. If you already have a side business going, that’s great! There’s extra concentrated chunks of time to work on it. What if you don’t? Again, you have time to plan, so think about what you know, what you can do, and what you can sell that people will buy! (Start up a blog and sign up to get a mentor. It might even be me!)
- Execute to see how much of the shortfall you can make up! This is the fun part: Getting a taste of your Plan B! The furlough isn’t all bad. Take advantage of the opportunity! When else will you have the opportunity to not be allowed to go to work? Concentrate on Plan B to see how productive you can be if you didn’t have your day job to worry about.
Make this your best furlough ever. Make the time off more than you bargained for … in a good way!