What to do if a government shutdown stops military pay

by Courtney Woodruff
Stripes Europe

If Congress cannot strike a deal federal funding is slated to run out. This means military pay, along with the rest of the government, could be affected. The rumor of a possible government shutdown is piling on extra worry and stress to our overseas military communities — and for good reason. Servicemembers and federal employees who remember the 2013 shutdown can attest to the validity of these concerns. 

If the dreaded event does take place, here’s what you can to do to keep your family’s finances on track.

Contact your bank.

If you’re wondering what will happen to your paycheck, the best thing to do is take a deep breath and contact your financial institution for guidance. The good news is, even though it is unlikely that the government will put a hold on military pay, many banks already have a policy in place for how to ensure servicemembers get compensated on time.

Stop automatic payments.

Just in case, it’s a good idea to stop automatic payments scheduled for the mid-month pay period to avoid overdraft fees. Instead, make a plan to cover these bills in one-time payments until regular paychecks continue.

Pay debt minimums.

Even though it is important to pay as much as you can towards your debts each month, in the event of a government shutdown, it is best to temporarily reduce the amount to the minimum owed, if possible

Reach out to on-base programs.

Every solid financial plan includes an emergency savings reserve. However, military families often deplete backup accounts over and over when it comes time to PCS to the next duty station, and it can take awhile for extra funds to accumulate again. If you find yourself in a critical financial situation, research programs offered on your military installation to find help. Organizations like Air Force Aid Society (AFAS) Army Emergency Relief (AER) are in place to help servicemembers in need.

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