Monday, March 4, 2013

What NOT to do During the Furlough

In a previous post, we covered what could be done to help get you through the furlough. Hopefully those ideas will help make those 22 weeks a little less painful. Now that the Do's are covered, it's time to tackle the Don'ts. It's a gut reaction to eliminate all spending to squirrel away every single penny possible to keep the wolf away from the door. I know, because that's what my instinct tells me to do.

There are going to be some instances where doing that very thing is going to cost you a whole lot more money in the long run. A whole lot more. 

Don't forgo auto maintenance.  It takes time and money to get your oil changed and that $25-40 could buy a lot of of canned goods. Change the oil instead. The cost of new motor would be the kiss of death to your financial well being.

Don't reduce your medicine.  My household spends hundreds of dollars a month on medicine and that's going to be a strangle hold on my financial neck, but so the outcome of eliminating or reducing the dosage of our meds. If possible stock up now. Get as many refills now as possible and put them back. Ask your doctor for samples. My own physician thinks its the greatest thing in the world to send his patients home with a goodie bag. Yours will, too. Also, some pharmaceutical companies will give you one free month for certain medications. Take 20 minutes and hit the web to see what's available.

Don't eliminate your business memberships. In some cases, these are expensive and you might be inclined to eliminate them from your budget. Try to maintain them provided you aren't starving to do so. The connections you make just might get you some freelance work or maybe even a new job.

Don't give up all business lunches.  It is true you can provide a tastier, much healthier meal from your leftovers (which makes it free, too.) It's also going to be true that morale at work might be lower because everyone is in the same boat as you are and it's hard to be happy and productive when you're mad at the boss and broke. You need to avoid that mindset at all costs. If you can financially manage it, eat at work one day a week or once every other week. You need to see and be seen. Even during hard times, networking is necessary. There is going to be that one guy who picks up extra work and is willing to tell you how he did it. Or someone is going to mention that Such and Such Company is looking for someone with your exact qualifications. You can't afford to miss those opportunities. And if your employer holds Morale Booster events every month, then by all means, go to it, choke down a few finger foods and open your ears for income making possibilities.  And do not bad mouth your employer.

Don't give up all your fun.  Your money is going to get tighter and you aren't going to want to be spending those precious remaining dollars by throwing them away on frivolous entertainment. But you need frivolous entertainment! Sign up for all the free birthday goodies in your area. Many places provide free ice cream cones, appetizers, one movie/sporting event ticket and many more. Just check your local area and sign up for everything you can. Try second-run theaters. If you love arts and crafts or mani-pedis, try the clearance bins and look for coupons to make the price practically free. Hard times feel harder when you're deprived. Try to find a few things that make the tough times bearable.

Don't wallow in your misery.  It is easy to start wallowing around, overeating, letting things pile up and just being miserable. We all want to do that. The problem is it just doesn't work and makes it all worse.  On your furlough day, get up! Take a shower and dress nicely for the day ahead of you. Make sure you eat something and start your day. Be positive about whatever task is ahead of you. Remember the people around you are going to pick up on your cues and, in turn, you will respond to your own positive attitude.

 Losing one fifth of your income for 22 weeks is about as awful as it gets, financially speaking. It's going to take determination. patience and faith. Hang in there and keep your chin up.

Good luck.