A Government Shutdown Survival Kit for Your Wallet

by The USAA Educational Foundation’s team of CFP® professionals on Tuesday September 26, 2023
Posted in Category: Life Events

Retro alarm clock with government shutdown text, and American flag.

November 15, 2023

Good news! The potential government shutdown has been averted, bringing a sigh of relief to many military families. The original blog from November 13, 2023 is shown below. 


“Government shutdown.”

For military families, those two words aren’t just part of the news cycle or debates on Capitol Hill. They represent the impending threat of delayed paychecks, sleepless nights, and the uncertainty of paying bills next week. If any of those thoughts have crossed your mind, you’re not alone.

The deadline of November 17th is right around the corner, so here are a few shutdown survival steps you can take to brace for the potential impact to your wallet.

1. Check with your financial institution.

Several military-focused financial institutions have announced interest-free loans and other paycheck assistance programs in support of Service members and their families. Contact your bank or credit union to learn more about the programs available to you and your family.

2. Tap into your emergency fund, if you have one.

You’ve likely heard this one already, but everyone should have a rainy-day fund. We suggest having at least $1,000 in savings to cover financial emergencies, but ideally you should have three to six months’ worth of living expenses set aside for a safety net. Consider using your emergency fund to cover your bills if your paycheck isn’t accessible next week.

If you haven’t had success building or maintaining an emergency fund, here are a few Tips to Build an Emergency Fund. These might be helpful after things get back to normal.

3. Review your budget.

Take a critical look at your expenses for the next few weeks. Focus on essential bills, defer nonessential spending, and allocate resources wisely. If you anticipate difficulties in paying a bill, reach out to the institution and explain the situation. Here is a budget worksheet that might be helpful in building your short-term spending plan.

4. Utilize military aid societies.

The various military aid societies like the Army Emergency Relief, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Air Force Aid Society, and Coast Guard Mutual Assistance provide counseling and financial assistance to military members during crises. They might be able to offer small interest-free loans, grants, or other resources to help you through this tough time.