Federal Furlough Sequestration Survival Guide

Federal Furlough Sequestration Survival Guide

Union squawking aside, furloughs appear to be a done deal.  Here’s a comprehensive guide for Federal Furlough Survival tips, plus some new additions to your PhD in Administrative Furloughs.

The good news: High-3 Average Salary is not affected.  Your FERS retirement calculation will be unchanged.  If you’re approaching retirement, you could take the optimisitc approach and consider each extended furlough weekend as a retirement ‘test drive’.  That’s pretty much it for the good news.

TSP: Unless you are contributing specified dollar amounts (not percentages), your TSP contributions will drop, as will the TSP Matching Contributions.  TSP contributions and Matches drop in accordance with what you are actually paid, not your base pay rate.

Take home pay: Calculate what your furlough take home pay will be.

Your Budget: Evaluate ways to trim your personal budget.  Here’s 9 10 ways to Fight Back.

Other sources of cash:

Consider a TSP Loan or setting up overdraft protection as a ‘backstop’ on your checking account (I’m not a huge fan of this, but if it prevents overdraft fees, so be it).

NFCU has set up some special programs to assist its customers during furloughs, including:

  • Delayed loan repayments
  • Low interest-rate overdraft loans, and
  • Waived penalties on early withdrawals from CD’s.

USAA is offering similar assitance to its members, including:

  • Special payment arrangements, which could include payment deferral, on some bank products1.
  • Refunds of certain fees for credit cards and other USAA Bank products.
  • Early withdrawal of funds from certificates of deposit without penalties.
  • Billing arrangements for insurance products.

If you’ve exhausted all the above options, and you have a specific traumatic event (i.e. utility shutoff or imminent foreclosure/eviction), you can seek help via interest-free loans from from the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund (FEEA.org).


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Can a Federal Employee save money by switching his family of four to a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) / Health Savings Account (HSA)? Here’s a follow-up.

So far we’ve survived flu season and our first round of Brand-Name prescriptions for 2 members of the family.  Getting one of the Brand Name prescriptions approved was a major goat rodeo, while the other Brand-Name prescription was easy to obtain but came with some serious sticker shock (more on this particular issue in a future post).

While one of the drugs was $593 for a 90-day supply(!), amazingly we’re still not far behind where we would be if we had stuck with BCBS Basic (FEHB code 112). We’ve spent $1438 YTD on Aetna HDHP/HSA versus $1263 YTD last year with BCBS: Continue reading



(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.

Continue reading

How to Retire the Cheapskate Way: The Ultimate Cheapskates’ Guide to Retirement.


Jeff Yeager has an interesting approach to preparing for retirement- he, like few brave others, purports that reducing spending is more powerful than the generic brokerage house and financial planner/pundit advice to save a $1-$2M retirement nest egg.

Jeff should know, he managed to retire at age 47 from his moderate-salary job running the books for a non-profit in DC.  He is ‘selfishly employed’ (more on this) as an author/authority on frugality and maintains a personal network of hundreds of ‘miser advisers’.

Continue Reading…