Garage sales, baby-sitting: USCG has tips for coping with shutdown


By Chris Day
Multimedia Editor

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Hold a garage sale or become a mystery shopper are just two of the suggestions the U.S. Coast Guard has for families of civilian employees not getting paid during the partial federal government shutdown.

On Wednesday, Day 18 of the partial government shutdown, the Coast Guard issued a five-page tip sheet to civilian employees to help them manage their finances through the shutdown. Issued by the Coast Guard Support Program and titled “Managing Your Finances During a Furlough,“ the tip sheet suggests several ways for Coast Guard families to supplement their income.

In addition to holding garage sales and taking a job as a mystery shopper, the sheet also suggests house-sitting, walking pets, babysitting and turning a hobby into income as sources of extra income. 

“Have untapped teaching skills and expertise?” the document asks. “Tutor students, give music or sports lessons.”

Because the Coast Guard falls under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, its approximately 800,000 civilian workers, including about 1,200 at the Aviation Logistics Center at Base Elizabeth City, are affected by the partial government shutdown. That is unlike the Department of Defense, whose services are funded during the shutdown. 

The Coast Guard Support Program sheet also includes tips on how to deal with debt collectors, warns against using too much credit, and advises employees about how to check their credit scores online. In closing, the document also warns that filing bankruptcy should only be used as a last resort.

“Often during financially difficult times, people feel they have no other option but to file bankruptcy,” the document states. “While bankruptcy provides you protection from your creditors and can be the right decision for some, you should consider all other options available to you first. A certified credit counselor can help you review your situation and consider possible solutions.”

According to a report by The Washington Post, the tip sheet was posted at the Coast Guard Support website Wednesday but removed later that morning after The Post contacted the Coast Guard. The Washington Post’s report also included a link to a .pdf copy of the tip sheet. 

The tip sheet also includes a link to a U.S. Coast Guard page filled with a list of employees’ frequently asked questions during a lapse in federal funding. One key question refers to active duty Coast Guard personnel: “Will I get paid on Jan. 15?”

The answer is it’s not likely, unless a solution is reached soon. 

“Meeting active duty and reserve military payroll for January 2019 will require a fiscal year 2019 appropriation, a continuing resolution, or passage of an alternative measure,” the page states.

Another question: Will retirees get paid?

“Retirees will get paid 31 December. However if this lapse in appropriations continues into February, they may not get paid their future installments,” the page, which was produced before the shutdown began, states. “VA payments should not be affected by this lapse in appropriations.”

The address to that web page is dcms.uscg.mil/budget/FAQ/.

In December at the onset of the shutdown the Coast Guard also issued a letter its personnel could provide to creditors to help ease the stress of not being able to meet their financial obligations. The letter was issued Dec. 27 and signed by Coast Guard Rear Adm. Matthew W. Sibley, the acting assistant commandant for human resources. 

Coast Guard Support is an employee-assistance program that will be available through the shutdown, according to the Coast Guard.