Furloughed USCG Employees Advised to Hold Garage Sales
After drawing media attention, the U.S. Coast Guard's workforce support office has removed an online tip sheet recommending that furloughed employees try out garage sales, babysitting and temp work to survive the ongoing government shutdown.
The Coast Guard's 42,000 active-duty servicemembers remain on duty, potentially without pay, as the status of their next paycheck is uncertain. However, 6,400 of the agency's civilian employees have been furloughed since December 22.
To provide guidance, the USCG's employee assistance office posted a five-page list of tips for managing finances in the event of the loss of pay. The plan advises furloughed employees to crunch the numbers on their family balance sheet, "get lean" with expenses, supplement their income, and start talking with creditors about the prospect of missed payments.
The document was taken off the agency's site after reporters with the Washington Post inquired about it, but a copy remains available elsewhere. In particular, the document advises Coast Guard employees to:
- Be creative with finding new income from other sources, like garage sales, dog-walking, babysitting, house-sitting, making money from side hobbies, tutoring students, or becoming a mystery shopper.
- Talk with creditors early about missed payments, and prioritize which debts to pay first.
- Understand the rules that govern debt collectors, and when and how they can contact you to ask for payment.
- Avoid taking on additional debt to make ends meet.
- Understand that credit scores may suffer as a result of the shutdown, and that this is "secondary to taking care of basic necessities for your family."
"Give yourself credit for doing a tough job!" the plan recommends. "You are taking control of the situation and directing it where you want."
Shutdown talks stall
On Wednesday, the White House and the House leadership held a brief conference on negotiating an end to the shutdown. It ended abruptly when President Donald Trump walked out, calling it a "total waste of time." In a Twitter update, the president said that without funding for a wall or barrier at the southern border - something that Democratic leaders refuse to support - he would not approve legislation to restore pay and operations at the affected agencies.
Separately, the House passed the first of four bills to restore funding at prior-year levels on Wednesday, approving a measure to fund the Treasury Department, the IRS and other financial services agencies. The bill passed 240-188, including eight Republican votes in support.
The bill does not cover the line item in dispute - the budget for the Department of Homeland Security, which would be tasked with and funded for the proposed wall project - but the president has indicated that he will not sign any legislation that would partially end the standoff until the barrier is funded.