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Government Shutdown Military Resource Guide


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Government Shutdown Military Resource Guide

  1. 1. Thriving Throughout the Budget ImpasseMilitary Financial Support Resources These organizations operate under a memo of understanding with theDepartment of Defense. If you are not near your branch’s aid society you can visit any office for assistance as they worktogether to support the total force. Name Notes/Information Contact Info - Streamlined „Bridge loans‟ during gov‟t shutdown. - Spouse or service member can access loan with Can download “Quick Assist Loan”Navy-Marine Corps Relief ID card. application to speed processSociety - Processed in 10-15 minutes – will leave with a - Website lists contact info for check. local offices. - Single Sailor $300 - Family $600 - Streamlined „Bridge loans‟ during gov‟t shutdown. Phone: 703-428-0000Army Emergency Relief - coordinated through command or AER offices Toll Free: 866-878-6378 - up to $1,000 per family DSN: 328-0000 www.afas.orgAir Force Aid Society Please refer to this document for information: local office information is available on this site. No specifics for gov‟t shutdown available at time www.cgmahq.orgCoast Guard Mutual of this printing. Please check with local area Local rep information available on thisAssistance representatives and their website for updates. site. In the event financial assistance is needed whenAmerican Red Cross above offices are closed the American Red Cross is authorized to assist.Non-Profit Financial Assistance Name Info Contact Information USA Cares provides grants to assist with needs; bills,USA Cares food, housing, repairs and more. Op Homefront assists with food, auto repair, furniture/household items, financial assistance andOperation Homefront much more. All assistance is provided through local branch. Contact national if no local office. The Salvation Army assists with food, shelter and clothing in many ways. From family night dinners,Salvation Army Most aid is administered through local food pantries and emergency aid, they are a loving chapters. Find one near you on this site. resource. Based in San Diego for San Diego militaryHomefront San Diego community they provide emergency food, emergency bill payment and more. Services include emergency financial assistance, rent/mortgage assistance and thrift stores. They areSt. Vincent DePaul prepared to meet the needs of many impacted by gov’t shutdown. Many more services available. Logon to find chapter near you. Check with your local church or synagogues forLocal Churches thrift stores, food pantries and other financial assistance. Check with your command, base and FRG forCommand/Unit Funds assistance available through command charities, NCO Associations, etc.Beth Wilson Homefront in Focus/Enlisted Spouse Community All rights reserved
  2. 2. Thriving Throughout the Budget ImpasseFood Assistance – these organizations offer emergency food assistance or resources to fill your pantry. Name Info Contact Offer food for a week for approximately $30. Usually requires ordering in advance but canAngel Food Ministries meet emergency needs on a case-by-case basis. Network of food pantries across the country. Eligibility may be based on salary these www.foodpantries.orgFood Pantries requirements were waived in case of gov‟t logon to find nearest food bank. shutdown.USA Cares Provides gift cards for grocery shopping Provide a variety of „food packs‟ to feed a family for a week at a cost of $32. OftenThe Treasure Box logon to find the nearest distribution requires pre-order but emergency boxes are location and order your boxes. available on a case-by-case basis Regular weekly food distribution for junior enlisted. Waving rank requirements in eventMilitary Outreach Ministries MOMs may be available at other of gov‟t shutdown. locations. Provide many other services as well. Provides emergency food supplies. Many hold a monthly food distribution inASYMCA conjunction with other organizations. Check local chapter for other services including „Family Dinner Night” Like the ASYMCA, many locations offerYMCA “Family Night Out” (dinners) as well as emergency food supplies. Many USOs host weekly “Dinners” forUSO service members and their families. Check local chapters for availability and details The Salvation Army assists with food, shelter Most aid is administered through localSalvation Army and clothing in many ways. Family night chapters. Find one near you on this dinners, food pantries and emergency aid. site. Based in San Diego for San Diego militaryHomefront San Diego community they provide emergency food, emergency bill payment and more. Op Homefront assists with food, auto repair, furniture/household items, financialOperation Homefront assistance and much more. All assistance is provided through local branch. Contact national if no local office. Services include emergency financial assistance, rent/mortgage assistance andSt. Vincent DePaul thrift stores. They are prepared to meet the needs of many impacted by gov‟t shutdown. Logon to find chapter near you. Check with your command FRO/Ombudsman for information onCommand FRO/Ombudsman resources available at your base in the event of a gov‟t shutdown. Many military relief local offices are preparing food pantries to assist families in www.aerhq.orgNMCRS/AER/AFAS/CGMA the event of a gov‟t shutdown. Check with the office near you – they will remain open . Many local churches host food pantries, co-Local Churches ops or offer emergency food supplies. Homefront in Focus/Enlisted Spouse Community All rights reserved 2011
  3. 3. Thriving Throughout the Budget Impasse Financial Planning for a Government Shutdown – interruption of pay…Below are steps, tips and best practices assembled and recommended by experts in various disciplines to provide thebest advice possible to assist you through this period of uncertainty.Bank, Credit Union, and other financial institutions 1. Assess your current assets, checking, cash on hand, savings and other vehicles. 2. Prioritize your bills and expenses a. Think food, shelter, transportation, then other bills 3. Allotments and autopays a. Assess if you should turn off allotments to savings/retirement temporarily throughout the shutdown. b. Turn off/adjust any bills you have set up for auto pay through vendors – be sure to contact creditor. See communication tips below. c. Turn off/adjust any bills you have set up for auto pay through online banking. Again, contact creditors. 4. Consider utilizing credit cards – temporarily – for food, gas and other necessities. a. Many financial institutions may offer a temporary credit limit increase to assist during this period. b. Be sure to discuss repayment arrangements and any fees before extending your credit limit. 5. Contact your bank/credit union for possible payment extensions, overdraft fee forgiveness and any other special programs they may have to assist you.Creditors/Vendors – Communication planCommunicate immediately with all creditors/vendors in the event of an interruption of pay. A key to protecting your creditrating is early communication. 1. Call creditors to inform them of temporary pay cessation. a. Request extension of due date b. Request lowering of interest during this time. c. Request lower payment options d. Be prepared to provide requests in writing. See example attached. 2. SCRA (Servicemember Civil Relief Act) is applicable in this situation. Please see release from DoD legal analyst Jennifer Armstrong: Financial Difficulties Caused by the Disruption of Pay Due to the Federal Government Shutdown "Under section 523 of title 50 App, United States Code (The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act), if a Servicemember on active duty is unable to perform an obligation arising under a contract (for example, cannot make an automobile, rent, or mortgage payment), and is charged a late fee or other similar penalty as a result, then a court may reduce or waive that fee if the ability to pay was materially affected by such military service. "If a Servicemember misses a payment because of pay disruptions caused by the shutdown of the federal government, then this section should provide relief. Servicemembers should contact their lenders or the other party to their contract or obligation and request relief under this section. "See your local legal assistance attorney if you cannot get the matter resolved. 3. Utilities – Fortunately the utility companies are one of the most agreeable to work with. The key, again, is to connect with them at the earliest time. Homefront in Focus/Enlisted Spouse Community All rights reserved 2011
  4. 4. Thriving Throughout the Budget Impasse 4. Sample letter to creditor. Remember your legal assistance office may be able to help with issues arising with creditors and venders. Date Creditor name Complete Address Re: Name on your account and account number To Whom It May Concern: I am a (branch of service) service member. Due to the federal budget impasse and resulting shutdown, I did not receive my regular paycheck amount on (date of pay). This has left me unable to make my regular monthly payments. When my paycheck is issued I expect to make my regular payment. In the meantime, I respectfully request your patience and understanding of the situation and that you waive any additional interest or late fees that may otherwise be charged as provided for in the Service Member’s Civil Relief Act, Section 523. If I can offer additional information, please let me know. Respectfully, (signature) Full Name (typed or printed) 5. Landlord/Property manager a. Lincoln Military Housing – in the event the budget impasse continues to 1 May, Lincoln Military Housing will not issue eviction notices or asses late fees or any other types of fees do to 1 May payment/allotment not being received. b. Contact your landlord/Property manager immediately informing them of pay interruption and make arrangements to pay rent. Above credit letter can be used as a follow-up letter as well. Tips to Stretch Your Resources Below are resources offered by many experts in frugal living and financial management.Feeding the Family on a restricted budget 1. No eating out! Kate Kashman, (Paycheck Chronicles) researched the „Value menu‟ versus eating at home. That hamburger that cost you $1 plus tax will cost you on average $0.78 at home. That includes cost of cooking. 2. Inventory your Pantry – Feeding America (Foodbank) states the average family, with creativity, has at least 7 meals in their pantry. a. Consider building meals around soups for healthy meals. b. Search recipe sites online for „budget conscious‟ meal ideas. 3. Meal Plan – CFP, Dave Ramsey says a couple can save $35 per week on their food budget by meal planning. a. Build your shopping list from your meal plan. Remember to plan all three meals as well as any planned snacks. 4. Shop at the Commissary! Independent research (Market Basket) confirms that you can save up to 30% by shopping at the commissary – even with the surcharge! And – it is the safest food chain and highest quality. 5. Coupon shopping – Columnist and Military Spouse Beth Wilson makes it a practice to utilize coupons. Many coupon sites exist on the internet to print your own coupons. She saves at least 10% of her total bill with coupons. Homefront in Focus/Enlisted Spouse Community All rights reserved 2011
  5. 5. Thriving Throughout the Budget Impasse a. DeCA has links on their site for coupons: b. Always compare the price of an item with coupon or alternate without before making decision based on the coupon. 6. Food Banks and other Food Distribution. a. Make use of food banks, food pantries and other food distributions to stretch your pantry and food dollars. b. If you find you are getting things your family will not consume, give it back. They will be grateful and often give more of what you can use. Be flexible…try new things  7. Food swaps and potlucks a. Connect with other spouses – offer your extra cans of green beans for their extra bottle of spaghetti sauce. b. Host a potluck – everyone bring a portion of the meal. Everyone eats and stretches their budget. c. Speaking of potlucks…many churches, YMCAs, USO, Salvation Army and others offer weekly family meals. With a little research you could eat out once or twice per week. i. By the way – they are often looking for volunteers to help. Consider giving back – with your time!Gas/Transportation 1. Carpool with others for essential trips to work or shopping. Post an ad on Craig‟s List for carpoolers. Check your base for information on carpool subsidies. 2. Curtail all unnecessary trips for the time being. Schedule and plan trips to coincide with necessary trips such as soccer practice.Subscriptions & Services 1. Consider downgrading, at least temporarily, your current services to include: a. Cell phone plan b. Satellite/Cable service c. Satellite Radio d. Internet e. Magazines, ezines, etc.Liquidate Hidden Assets 1. Garage Wars mogul, Kevin McInginnes says the average family has over $1,300 to $3,000 in „hidden‟ assets. Take a look around your home…what have you not used in the last year? If it is not a seasonal item (i.e., holiday decorations) consider liquidating with a Yard Sale or Craig‟s List sale. a. Look for unused clothing, workout equipment, cell phones, laptops, CDs, DVDs, Game Consoles, wedding gifts from aunt sue that you‟ll never use, crafting supplies, cameras, jewelry b. Have realistic expectations…you will not get what you paid for out of the items – unless they are antiques. c. Many have found Craig‟s list to yield the best return for the items up for sale over a yard sale. However it may take time for the items to sell versus the one day return on a yard sale. 2. Yard Sale tips a. Advertise on Craig‟s List and the local paper. These are general free to post b. Start early – avid yard sale shoppers are looking for bargains at 7am and are home by 10am. c. Place signs at well traveled intersections. d. Be prepared to negotiate e. Have a joint yard Sale…the more stuff to sell the more enticing. Partner with a friend or the neighborhood. Homefront in Focus/Enlisted Spouse Community All rights reserved 2011
  6. 6. Thriving Throughout the Budget Impasse 3. Craig‟s List Tips a. Pictures, PICTUREs, PICTURES! Posting your items with good pictures is truly with a thousand words. i. Take pictures in well-lit area, on a sheet so background does not compete with the item ii. Take pictures from several angles of products (where appropriate) b. Be succinct – you don‟t need a sales pitch on craig‟s list. c. Give dimensions, sizes, full description. d. Give accurate condition such as never out of box, like new, used once, gently used, etc. e. Again, prepare to negotiate f. Check your account often and reply promptly What to Avoid!Exhaust all options before turning to: 1. Pay Day Lenders – the interest rate is not worth the ready cash…EVER. 2. Pawn Shops – rarely will you get the value of the item and you risk not being able to pick the item back up if you don‟t have the cash before it is sold. 3. Do not cancel your car insurance. I know…goes without saying but I have had this question asked over 40 times in the last three days. Stress ManagementPay interruptions are a strain on anyone but for military it can be doubly stressful in the midst of an aggressivedeployment cycle. Remember that stress is the normal reaction to an abnormal situation. Below are a few tips to helpmanage stress during this time. 1. Breathe – yup, breathe. Close your eyes and take 5 deep, deep breaths – slowly exhaling. Scientifically this exercise increases the oxygen in your blood flow which impacts mood and fatigue overall. So breathe. 2. Unplug. Turn off the TV, turn off the cell phone and the computer. We are bombarded with information. Disconnect and enjoy the beauty of silence. 3. Get out of the house/office. Go for a walk, play in the rain…A 15 minute walk raises your heart rate and releases endorphins which improve our energy and our mood. And, an added bonus…these same endorphins are a natural appetite suppressant.  4. Play a game…play a board game with the kids. Play hide and seek or „Mother-may-I”. Teach them a new game. Laugh! a. No kids? Call friends over for a game night…play cards, have a Wii party…laugh! 5. Reconnect with your faith. Time and again research shows those stating they have a religious faith live longer, are more positive, are healthier and have a lower divorce rate. Prayer is identified as an exercise that results in greater peace and confidence in the future. 6. Laugh. The physical activity of laughing increasing blood flow and releases similar endorphins to exercise (and powers Monstropolis). Read a joke book, surf joke, cartoon and riddle sites on the internet and…LAUGH. Homefront in Focus/Enlisted Spouse Community All rights reserved 2011