Five Things to Do During a Furlough

The author offers five suggestions for things federal employees can do while furloughed.

Clowns to left of me
Jokers to the right
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you

~Stealers Wheel

That’s how federal employees must feel in the midst of the equivalent to school age kids’ “spring break,”  albeit in October. One that’s unpaid, of course!  Feds, who often join the government for the employment stability it offers, find themselves on unpaid furloughs with no end in sight and no certainty that they’ll be made whole when Congress finally reaches a budget agreement.

With that in mind – what are the 5 best things you can do during a furlough?

  1. What better time to get an update to your retirement strategy?  With pay freezes, budget cuts, and furloughs in place, creating a plan for retirement seems all the more attractive, and it’s likely we’ll see more retirements this year than ever.  If you’re not eligible for retirement, you’ll be left behind to pick up the workload of those who leave.  Being prepared with your own plan can help you feel more in control of your own destiny.
  2. When was the last time you reviewed your TSP balances and allocations? Not enough time is a common excuse for not paying full attention to your TSP.  Don’t let these furlough hours slip away.  Take advantage of the time to review and re-allocate your Thrift Savings Plan, if necessary.
  3. Have you been to Costco during the week?  This is warehouse shopping at its finest!  There aren’t crowds, except for the other furloughed federal employees, and you’ll be in and out before you know it.
  4. Does your vehicle need the oil changed?  Again, it’s a luxury to take care of these chores during the week when most businesses aren’t that crowded, and you can pick up your dry cleaning on the way home.
  5. Have you had your flu shot?  Keep in mind that when the government shutdown is over, you’re going straight into the rat race of a new fiscal year with all the budget implications.  Plus all that work that didn’t get done while you were out shopping at Costco is still waiting for you.  So stock up on the vitamins, get your flu shot and build up your immunity – you’re going to need it!

Without implicating clowns or jokers, you are stuck in the middle of Congressional crossfire.  Make the most of your furlough time – spring break will be over before you know it.  Can the holidays be far behind?

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About the Author

From her office on The Denver Federal Center, Ann Vanderslice has been working with federal employees to help them achieve retirement success since 2002. She is considered one of the foremost authorities on federal benefits in the country. She is a nationally recognized author and speaker on topics of interest to federal employees. Contact Ann to learn more about the federal benefits programs Ann presents for federal agencies.