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The end to the longest-ever federal government shutdown allows those involved—whether active participants or innocent bystanders—an opportunity to take stock. Congress will now return to a debate regarding border security funding. Meanwhile, federal employees and contractors will count the effects the five-week long shutdown had on their personal situations.
In some cases, the latter may want to take the opportunity to re-assess their financial planning and priorities. Although it cropped up seemingly out of nowhere—few observers during the week before Christmas saw the longest government shutdown in history on the horizon—the damage the lapse in appropriations inflicted on many families surprised me in its scope.
Environment - Years - Stories - Employees - Paycheck
Having served in that environment for years, I found it difficult to comprehend the many stories of federal employees unprepared to miss even one paycheck. I recognize that in some cases—Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners, for instance, with starting pay of only around $30,000 annually—circumstances dictate that federal employees must live paycheck-to-paycheck.
But senior federal employees making $80,000 to $100,000 per year, or more, should have long since placed their days of living paycheck-to-paycheck in the rearview mirror. Because financial troubles can lead to the revocation of security clearances (individuals with high personal debts are more at risk of manipulation by foreign powers) families ought to have placed a premium on financial stability, as one monetary hiccup could have long-lasting career complications.
Part - Employees - Stress - Cost - Living
Part of federal employees’ financial stress stems from the comparatively high cost of living in and around the nation’s capital. As someone who first took out a $330,000 mortgage while making only $60,000 annually as a Capitol Hill staffer, I can relate to the dilemma that skyrocketing home prices and rents can pose to household budgets. Successive promotions and raises, coupled with two refinancings of my mortgage during the Great Recession, made my financial situation easily manageable....
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