(Update 3/12/13: There are now TEN ways you can fight back.  Check the value of your FERS Life Insurance (gratis) benefit). 

It’s time for GubMints to stop chirping about furlough news and help you get in fiscal shape.  Here’s 9 ways to help you look like you were chiseled out of a piece of wood!

    1.  Ditch your landline at home.  If you still ‘need’ to have a landline (i.e. you have a commuity gate, monitored alarm, etc), get an OOMA box for your landline.  All that is necessary is a high-speed internet connection (>384Kbps upload speed).  With OOMA, you get unlimited calling, caller ID, call waiting, and voicemail for almost free (You pay only your state’s 911 Tax/Fee each month).  GubMints has been using OOMA service for over 1 year now.   Savings of $10 – $30/month.

2. If you are out of contract on your cell phone, switch to a non-contract provider like Straight Talk (Walmart) or AirVoice.  In some cases, even if you are still under contract you can save money.  Savings of up to $60/month. (Calculate your Cell Savings via free xls spreadsheet available exclusively to GubMints.com subscribers).

3. Cut the cord with your Cable/Satellite provider.  Switch to an OTA antenna and still get your favorite shows via Hulu/Netflix/AmazonPrime.  Savings of up to $60/month. (Calculate your Cord-Cutting savings via free xls spreadsheet available exclusively to GubMints.com subscribers).  If your cable ‘Rent is Too Damn High’, call your provider and negotiate a discount (call to cancel your service and you will be transferred to a ‘customer retention’ specialist, who is authorized to cut you a deal).

4. Stop contributing to the TSP.  What did he just say?   If you’re contributing greater than 5% of your salary to TSP, I’m OK with backing off your deferrals to 5% (you’re still maxing out the TSP matching contributions).  But if you’re truly living paycheck-to-paycheck, stopping contributions altogether is still better than going in to debt.

5. Take a TSP loan.  I’m not a big fan of this one, either, but with current borrowing (‘G’ fund) rates at 1.375%, it’s cheaper to take a loan against your TSP balance than to go out in town and get one from your bank/credit union.   Note that there is an upfront fee of $50, a minimum TSP account balance of $1,000, and a maximum loan amount of $50,000.

6. Stop your CFC Contribution.  I’m not going to go in to moral/ethical territory here, but if you are under financial duress, you can re-neg on your CFC election.  One of my employees has used this option and recently reminded me of it.  Savings of $10 – $100/month.

7. Take full advantage of your Transportation Incentive Program (TIP) benefit and take mass transit/bike to work.   With shortened work hours and/or days, you may have more time to take a ‘slower’ commute, if the price is right. Savings of $50 – $250/month.  

8.   …Or if mass transit is not a viable option for you, carpool or at least get 20 cents per gallon back on gas. $2-25/month savings.

9.  Moonlight.  Get a side gig on your furlough days to help pay some bills (check with your supervisor and Agency for the regulations for/against moonlighting during furlough.  Working on a Furlough Day at a BigBox store is probably a non-issue, but working for a Defense Contractor and sitting at your same work desk on a Furlough Day is definitely verboten).   Alternatively, you could ‘moonlight’ by using furlough days to clean out your garage/attic/basement and sell unused gear on Craigslist.

10. Consider reducing your Life Insurance coverage based on what your Gratis FERS-provided policy value is.

…add it all up for an average savings of $1,000 per month!

Need more details?  For topics above that do not have a descriptive link (a ‘how-to’ webpage), I will make one if you provide me feedback via comments below!  Feel free to add a suggestion via the Comments Form.

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5 thoughts on “9 Ways to Fight the Federal Furlough

  1. Pingback: GubMints Subscriber Bonus – Furlough Fight Club Spreadsheets | GubMints

  2. Would like more information on the stopping of the CFC contributions. Is there a form? Do an employee just need to provide a written statement to their Payroll office? or ?

    Thanks! This is a GREAT page!

    • Tia –

      Yes, you can in fact stop your CFC Payroll Contribution/Deduction.

      From the OPM webpage:
      CFC payroll deductions may be cancelled at any time, but this is the only change permitted outside the solicitation period.  Employees wishing to cancel their deductions should contact their agency payroll office and request the allotment be cancelled.

      Here is the link to the OPM CFC FAQ.

  3. here’s an 11th one for you to consider – revisit your federal/state taxes during furloughs by either:

    – if you received federal/state refunds for TY2012, decrease the amount being withheld from each paycheck in 2013 to bump up your paycheck. If you received a $2600 refund, that’s $100/paycheck. More if you start now in April as there are fewer payperiods.

    – increase your number of exemptions during sequestration/furloughs to boost your paychecks in May-Sep. In Oct-Dec, reduce your exemptions to contribute more in taxes to make up the difference. consult a tax professional on the mechanics to ensure no penalty for underpayment of taxes. Topic 306 – Penalty for Underpayment of Estimated Tax http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc306.html refers.

    • Brad-
      Great point! I did just this last year.

      For DoD employees you can go straight to the DFAS mypay page and make the change with a few short clicks.


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