The partial government shutdown is ratcheting up political tensions in Washington and cranking up the financial tensions for federal workers going without a paycheck, but one personal finance expert says an important lesson from this impasse is to be financially prepared in case the income suddenly stops.
An increasing number of media stories highlight government employees struggling to make ends meet or even put food on the table. But they’re more the rule than the exception. Dave Ramsey Financial Expert Chris Hogan says millions of Americans are also facing dire straits if they miss a paycheck or two.\
“Almost 80 percent of people are living paycheck to paycheck,” said Hogan, who is also author of the new book “Everyday Millionaires: How Ordinary People Build Extraordinary Wealth. “You’ve got people who are running out of money before the end of the month.”
While empathizing with the uncertainty those employees face in awaiting their next paycheck, Hogan says careful planning and budgeting can better prepare people for any unforeseen income stoppages.
He says the first two steps are addressing any debt and stripping away frivolous expenses to focus on basics such as food, clothing, shelter, and transportation.
Ramsey is well known for imploring people to avoid going into debt and Hogan is preaching the same message. But he says there are smart ways to free yourself from those burdens, including eliminating your smallest debts first and building momentum to pay off student loans and other expensive obligation.
As for what to do once your head is above water, Hogan says there are proven methods to follow in order to build savings and wealth.
“You’ve got to learn to live on less. Even with your budgeting and understanding what it requires for you to live on, we’ve got to figure out those things to stop doing immediately,” said Hogan.
Some of his suggestions include far less use of debit cards and eliminating unnecessary expenses like cable television.
He then suggests starting with a goal of saving $1,000 and eventually putting away three to six months worth of savings. As the money builds, he recommends investing in retirement accounts, putting money away for higher education, and eventually being in a position to be a charitable donor.
Listen to the full podcast to hear Hogan offer much more detail on the steps to no longer living paycheck to paycheck and how to pull yourself out of debt.