How Long Could You Last?

So, your government shuts down. What are you going to do now? Especially when the government is your employer.
This ridiculousness may not even come into fruition and I am hoping it doesn't, but I definitely like to be prepared. Although we are on our way to a brighter financial future, we really are not prepared to not get paid. Since I have a tendency to plan and organize, I swiftly got on that. These are some steps we took starting at the beginning of the month for a just in case scenario.

Only made our minimum payment on our credit card and loan payments. This saved us the most amount of money. The minimum equals only about 1/5 what we were paying so we added the extra to our already established, but piddly emergency fund.

We made the minimum payment on our mortgage. Every month we usually pay close to a hundred dollars to the principle of our mortgage. In essence we make an extra payment and a third a year. This makes great sense when we can afford it, but that money can be used more wisely in dire circumstances.

Our bank is awesome. We bank with Navy Federal Credit Union. They have a program set up for payment extensions with no penalties. This is a great resource, but not just sailors bank with NFCU. Many federal employees along with all the branches of the military and their family members are eligible. This well might go dry rather quickly.

We stowed away our tax refund. It hasn't been spent, yet. The initial plan was to put it all to debt. Until this mess gets squared away, it's staying in our bank account.

Called our utility companies. There are a lot of great programs that provide assistance for people with hardship. Unfortunately, most are run by the government. When I called our utility companies to see if there was any internal programs not offered by government assistance, I learned that their policies were only offered if the military personnel was deployed. We are not in that position. This information may not save us money, but it is good to know.

Cut a few more expenses. There are always a few more ways to trim up our spending.
  • I actually made our own laundry detergent. There are millions of recipes. This is another new threshold for me. I thought this was an extreme measure, but it isn't. It was easy, cheaper and it works arguably better. 
  • The sailor and I have not been going out for our usual lunch or breakfast. Once a week we tend to do the day date thing. Instead, we went to have just two coffees the other morning, much cheaper.
  • Keeping an eye on that computer. We have two desk top computers and a laptop. One of the computers is shared by our children and they are remarkably good about turning it off. My laptop is off when I am not using it. The sailor is notorious for leaving his on all the time. During the day when he is at work and even overnight. A simple Post-It has pretty much fixed this problem.
After running some numbers and figuring out a new budget, I think we can last three full months without a paycheck and living off our savings. This is without dipping into our investments too. Most likely we won't need that long, but it is good to know. The rub in this situation is that while the sailor is not getting paid, he is still required to work. No chance for him to get a second job to supplement our income, but I will definitely be on the search.

This is only a contingency plan, nothing drastic has taken place. Three months is not a long time, I wish we were more prepared for something like this. When push comes to shove, I think we could squeeze out another month, but I am longing for the days where we are putting our money into saving accounts and not into debt repayment.

Edited to add:

We will only be getting half a paycheck come the fifteenth, whether the government shuts down or not. Of course money owed will be back paid when everything resumes, but preemptively the pay was set this way.

We also just received an email from Navy Federal Credit Union who has really stepped up. They will be advancing the other half of the missing pay.