15 Things to Do Now to Prepare for a Possible Government Shutdown

Essential steps for safeguarding your finances before a government shutdown hits.
Updated Dec. 5, 2023
The Capitol building

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As the looming possibility of a government shutdown approaches, it's crucial to take proactive steps to safeguard your personal finances.

While you can't control the outcome of political decisions, you can control how prepared you are for the potential financial impacts.

Here are 15 practical measures you can take right now to protect your finances in the event of a government shutdown, which could happen as soon as September 30, 2023.

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Review your budget

K Seisa/peopleimages.com/Adobe senior couple reviewing bills using laptop

Before a government shutdown occurs, scrutinize your budget. Identify areas where you can reduce discretionary spending to create a financial safety net.

This is especially important if you're trying to move beyond living paycheck to paycheck. Your budget could really take a hit and not having a cushion might come back to bite you if you act too late.

By making the necessary adjustments now, you'll be better equipped to handle any income disruptions during a shutdown, ensuring your financial stability remains intact.

Build an emergency fund

Vitalii Vodolazskyi/Adobe jlass jar labeled

Creating or bolstering your emergency fund is crucial. Aim to add money to your savings account so that you have at least three to six months' worth of living expenses.

This fund will act as a financial cushion, allowing you to cover essential bills and unforeseen expenses without tapping into other resources or going into debt.

Diversify your investments

WavebreakmediaMicro/Adobe Senior couple strategizing their investment plans.

Review your investment portfolio to ensure it's diversified across various asset classes, such as stocks, bonds, and real estate. Consider consulting a financial advisor to rebalance your portfolio if necessary. 

Safe-haven assets like gold or Treasury bonds tend to perform well during economic uncertainty, helping safeguard your investments.

Don't let home repairs drain your bank account

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Update your resume

rh2010/Adobe woman holding resume document indoors

While preparing your finances, it's wise to be proactive about your career. Ensure your resume is up-to-date with your latest accomplishments, skills, and qualifications.

In case of a government shutdown affecting your job, having an updated resume can expedite your job search.

Networking and exploring job opportunities in your field as a precaution can also provide peace of mind during uncertain times.

Explore gig work

Snapic.PhotoProduct/Adobe businesswoman traveling in taxi in backseat

Exploring gig work or freelancing opportunities can mitigate your financial risk in the event of a government shutdown. This can be a valuable safety net if your regular income is disrupted.

Additionally, gig work offers flexibility, allowing you to adapt your schedule to your needs, making it a practical option to supplement your income if necessary.

Pay down high-interest debt

Kittiphan/Adobe young woman checking bills

Focusing on reducing high-interest debt is always wise. Credit card debt, for instance, can be a financial burden during uncertain times.

Allocate extra funds toward paying off these debts to decrease interest charges and free up more money for essentials if your income is affected.

By reducing your debt load, you'll have greater financial flexibility and less stress if a shutdown impacts your finances.

Stay informed

goodluz/Adobe\ man in kitchen reading newspaper

Stay updated on government developments and potential shutdowns by following reliable news sources.

Understand the specific agencies or programs that could be affected and how it might impact your life. This knowledge will help you make informed financial decisions and prepare for disruptions.

Check your insurance

Viacheslav Yakobchuk/Adobe aged couple consulting

Review your insurance coverage, including health, auto, and homeowners/renters policies. Ensure they are up-to-date and provide adequate coverage for your needs.

Consider additional coverage, especially for health insurance, as a government shutdown can impact healthcare services.

Understanding your insurance policies will give you peace of mind during uncertain times, reducing potential financial burdens in case of emergencies or disruptions.

Create a contingency plan

fizkes/Adobe woman sit at desk manage budget

Develop a comprehensive plan outlining how you'll manage your finances, expenses, and essential needs during a government shutdown.

Identify potential sources of income, such as part-time work or freelance gigs, and prioritize your expenses to cover essentials like housing, utilities, and groceries.

A well-thought-out plan can help you navigate financial challenges with more confidence and stability if a shutdown occurs, reducing stress and uncertainty.

Contact creditors

InsideCreativeHouse/Adobe woman talking on phone

Reach out to your creditors, such as credit card companies, lenders, and utility providers, to discuss your situation and explore arrangements if a government shutdown affects your income.

Some creditors may offer temporary relief options or modified payment plans to help you manage financial stress during this period.

Open communication can prevent late fees, penalties, or damage to your credit score, providing valuable peace of mind.

Reduce non-essential expenses

Celt Studio/Adobe male hand holding TV remote control

Identify areas in your budget where you can cut back on non-essential spending. This might include dining out less, canceling unused subscriptions, or postponing discretionary purchases.

By tightening your financial belt, you'll conserve funds and create a financial cushion to navigate potential disruptions caused by a government shutdown.

Consider a Roth IRA

Andrii/Adobe A sign about a Roth IRA

A Roth IRA can be a smart financial move during uncertain times. Contributions are made with after-tax dollars, and qualified withdrawals in retirement are tax-free.

This can provide a source of tax-free income if your financial situation becomes strained during a government shutdown.

Roth IRAs also offer flexibility in terms of contributions and withdrawals, making them a valuable addition to your financial strategy when planning for potential economic disruptions.

Monitor your credit

LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/Adobe man holding pen near paper with credit report letter

Regularly monitoring your credit can help you detect any unusual or unauthorized activity, protecting you from potential identity theft or financial fraud during uncertain times.

You're entitled to an annual free credit report from each major credit bureau. Use this to check your credit health and address any discrepancies promptly.

Create an emergency childcare plan

PoppyPix/Adobe teacher playing with toddlers in classroom, building Lego blocks on the floor.

Childcare arrangements can be disrupted during a government shutdown due to furloughs or financial strain.

It’s important to identify trusted family members, friends, or local childcare providers who can assist if needed. Then, discuss your plan with them in advance so they're prepared.

Having this plan in place will relieve stress and allow you to focus on your finances without worrying about your children's care during a shutdown.

Seek financial advice

LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/Adobe advisor sitting at table with laptop

Government shutdowns can bring financial uncertainty. Consult a financial advisor to assess your situation, adjust investments, and create a tailored plan.

They can help you make informed decisions, protect your assets, and navigate potential economic turbulence.

Their expertise can help eliminate some money stress, ensuring you're financially prepared and can weather the storm if a shutdown occurs.

Bottom line

p_gangler/Adobe us capitol building

While a government shutdown can be a source of uncertainty, taking proactive steps to secure your finances can provide peace of mind.

By reviewing your budget, building an emergency fund, and diversifying your investments, you'll be better prepared to weather any financial storms that may arise.

Stay informed and adaptable, and focus on maintaining your financial stability. Preparing now can significantly impact your financial fitness should a shutdown occur.

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Author Details

Adam Palasciano Adam Palasciano is a personal finance-obsessed and money-savvy individual who loves to hash out content on all things saving money. He specializes in writing millennial-friendly personal finance content, covering topics ranging from trending financial news, debt, credit cards, cryptocurrency, and more.

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