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Four Tips for Surviving the Government Shutdown

Four Tips for Surviving the Government Shutdown

Updated January 17, 2018.

With no immediate end in sight for the partial government shutdown, more than 800,000 federal workers nationwide will be without a paycheck this Friday. This will be the first payroll distribution affected by the shutdown. This, paired with the Federal Reserve Board’s report that nearly 4 in 10 Americans are unable to cover a $400 unexpected expense, means that some of the furloughed federal employees have likely exhausted all of their cash reserves in order to stay afloat.

To make matters worse not all impacted workers can count on retroactive pay after the shutdown. The road to financial recovery may be very long, for some.

In an effort to assist those effected by the shutdown, American Financial Solutions has put together this list of tips for surviving the shutdown.

Click here to jump to information on specific creditor assistance

Tips for Surviving the Shutdown

Contact Creditors* Waste no time reaching out to all of the creditors you owe before payments are missed – credit cards, car loans, mortgages, etc. Although the Office of Personnel Management provided access to sample letters, a more personal approach to this critical step can be helpful. Tell your story to the creditors.

Switch to an Emergency Budget

  • Identify your critical expenses and look for areas you may be able to reduce spending like cable or internet services.
  • Think about services you use, but do not need such as music or movie subscriptions, subscription boxes, genealogy services and more.
  • Also think about ways in which you may be able to increase income during this time. Side jobs or selling unused household items may be an option. There are good tips in our article Making Money from Home. You can find a wealth of budgeting tips and an interactive budgeting tool on our website.

Identify Resources in Your Community - Charities, non-profits and commercial businesses are all pitching in to provide a variety of support. To find services in your area, dial 211 or visit online.

Get Professional Financial Assistance from Nonprofits

  • Contact a financial expert at American Financial Solutions (AFS). We can help with making tough financial decisions during this time. AFS is a non-profit credit counseling agency that provides budget, debt and credit assistance to people nationwide.

Other Assistance:

​​​​​​Coast Guard Mutual Assistance - USAA donated 15 million to the Coat Guard Mutual Assistance fund. The donated funds will disburse as interest free loans to Coast Guard personnel with the assistance of the American Red Cross. The loan assistance is available to all Coast Guard servicemembers and is designed to cover an estimated two weeks of financial shortfalls caused by a lack or pay. Members should start by seeking assistance at the Mutual Assistance website

* More About Creditor Assistance

As of this morning, according to what has been reported by various media outlets, here is what is known regarding what creditors are doing for affected federal workers:

Washington Federal - is offering loans that are interest free for 90 days.  You do not have to be a current Washington Federal customer to apply

Bank of America and Chase have established special toll-free hotlines. Bank of America is 1-844-219-0690 and Chase can be reached at 888-356-0023.

Wells Fargo has a special website at

Bank of America, Chase, Navy Federal Credit Union and Wells Fargo have offered support to federal employees by including fee refunds or waivers, loan modifications and repayment plans.

For federal workers who have direct payroll deposit, Wells Fargo will automatically reverse monthly service and overdraft fees. Chase also announced a similar plan.

Cashmere Valley Bank is offering a free payroll advance program for federal workers.

First Federal is offering a Government Shutdown Asstance Program to eligible First Federal Loan customers. Visit a local branch or call for more information. 

Heritage Bank has stated they are "here to help our customers affected by the U.S. government shutdown. If you are in need of financial assistance, call their Customer Service Center at 800-455-6126 or visit the local branch. 

Kitsap Bank has asked people facing a hardship to contact their local banker. Here is a list of Kitsap Bank locations

Navy Federal Credit Union is offering 0% interest loans for up to $6,000 with a grace period. Government contractors may also be eligible if they receive their direct deposit from the federal government.

U.S. Bank has created a low-rate loan for federal workers impacted by the shut down. The special federal worker phone line is 877.760.6046.

Discover  clients may be eligible for skipping a payment and having late fees and interest charges reversed if they miss a payment due to the shut down. Discover clients call 800.347.2683.

FedChoice Credit Union has several options. Visit their website

Key Bank has a borrower's assistance program in place to help customers encountering financial problems. This includes employees hurt by the shutdown. 

Harborstone Credit Union is offering multiple services for those impacted by the shutdown. Visit their website to view available services. 

Kitsap Credit Union is offering services including payment modifications and loans to those impacted by the shutdown. Visit their website for more information.

O Bee Credit Union is offering several options for members directly and indirectly affected by the Federal Government Shutdown. 

Banner Bank encourages those impacted by the federal government shutdown to contact them at branch locations or you can call about a loan by dialing 1-866-641-5335

Student Loans - Help for those making payments towards their federal student loans is very limited. Visit the Department of Education's Blog for information on deferments, forbearance options and payments based on income. 

Cell Phones:

Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile all have special payment programs which include waiving late fees and payment extensions. Call and let them know you are a government worker.


What we know as of January 15th, is that tax returns and refunds will continue to be processed during the shutdown. IRS employees are working without pay. However, paper returns (as opposed to electronically filed returns) will take a substantial amount of time to be processed. The IRS walk in Taxpayer Assistance centers will not be open during this time. Audit and collection activities will also be greatly reduced. 

Utilities (Washington State):

Many utility companies, including Seattle City Light and Puget Sound Energy, have pledged to work with customers who are unable to pay their energy bill on time. Contact your utility and advise them of your situation. 

This is by no means a complete list and details are subject to change as the shutdown continues.

American Financial Solutions is a non-profit organization and division of North Seattle Community College Foundation. Founded in 1999, AFS had helped over 400,000 people become debt free. We do this by providing budget, debt and credit counseling and education services, which help people improve their financial lives.

Published Jan 16, 2019.