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Financial Resources During Furlough

Furloughed employees can expect a reduction in pay and should be proactive in preparing for the resulting effects on their financial responsibilities and quality of life. As with any situation in which there is a loss of income, proper financial planning is the key to success. Your immediate action will ensure minimal impact to your financial future. If you have not recently completed an accurate financial assessment or completed a thorough budget review, it would be in your best interest to do so. Do not hesitate to contact your creditors immediately if you experience financial difficulty. Communication with them is the first step to ensuring you remain in control of your financial game plan. Keeping payments on time will also reduce the risk of incurring additional late fees and other penalties. If you are currently experiencing difficulty with managing your budget you may want to consider receiving credit counseling at one of the resources listed in this guide. Take action now to reorganize your budget and prioritize you needs and wants.

HEALTH CARE & LIFE INSURANCE

Furloughed employees still receive full medical insurance benefits. Neither services nor premiums will be affected. Life insurance premiums and benefits for federal employees will also remain unchanged

UTILITY ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS

If you have been living in your residence for at least one year, contact your utility companies for assistance in determining if you meet the eligibility requirements for an Equal Payment Plan (EPP). An EPP average your utility costs over the entire year and provide an average monthly billing. By taking advantage of an EPP you can avoid spikes in your heat and electric bill during winter and summer months.

Depending on your income you may be eligible for financial assistance through other utility programs such as the Home Energy Assistance Target (HEAT) program. HEAT provides winter utility payment assistance to low-income households, targeting those who are truly vulnerable - the lowest-income households with the highest heating costs: the disabled, elderly, and families with preschool-age children.

Rocky Mountain Power

http://www.rockymountainpower.net/res/po.html

(888) 221-7070

Questar Gas

https://www.questargas.com/index.php

(800) 323-5517

City and local utility companies should be contacted directly to inquire about any further assistance available.

LEGAL ASSISTANCE

For complex or serious issues consult with an attorney or a lawyer. Several free clinics are located throughout Utah. Pro bono services offered at legal clinics may include legal advice for civil legal issues, help answering papers, summons, and requests, and referral and resource information. Advice on criminal legal issues and representation in court are services that are typically NOT provided at free legal clinics. Services provided may be dependent on income.

www.utahbar.org/public/tuesday_night_bar.html

EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

The EAP is your primary resource for financial counseling. They can be reached at 800-222-0364 and are available 24/7 to schedule a consult with a financial counselor. Appointments are normally scheduled during regular business hours from 0800-1900 CST. Financial support is available via phone consults. Basic consults are free and usually limited to 30 minutes, which typically provides enough time to ask questions about credit cards, mortgages, and budgets. If your needs are not met through the phone consult, EAP can provide referrals to credit counseling agencies or attorneys. The first hour is typically free and any additional time spent is provided at a discounted rate. When speaking with an EAP representative ask if there are any financial advisors or attorneys who will with PROBONO or provide an additional discount. Services provided are confidential and counseling is provided through multiple formats and covers numerous topics.

The Primary website for the Employee Assistance Program is:

http://foh4you.com/

The EAP Financial Brochure can be located at:

https://www.magellanassist.com/mem/library/ContentDB.Image?id=6738

(Explains the EAP role in regards to financial services provided)

The EAP financial resources guide can be located at:

https://www.magellanassist.com/mem/library/contentDB.image?id=6808

(Lists various financial resource websites available for federal employees)

UTAH FINANCIAL RESOURCES

The non-profit agencies listed below offer FREE financial counseling related to debt and money management, credit and budget counseling, bankruptcy, foreclosure, and more. Please contact them directly to inquire about available classes and/or financial counseling.

CornerStone Financial Education

http://www.csfedu.org/

3340 Harrison Blvd.

Ogden, UT 84403

(801) 621-5600

Utah State University - Cooperative Extension

http://extension.usu.edu/

(801) 468-2846

Cottages of Hope

http://www.cottagesofhope.org/

2724 Washington Blvd.
 
Ogden, UT 84401

(801) 393-4011

AAA Fair Credit Foundation

http://www.faircredit.org/

230 West 200 South, Suite 3104

Salt Lake City, UT 84101

(800) 351-4195

ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL RESOURCES

Credit Counseling can be obtained through most banks and credit unions if you are a member. Contact your bank directly to for additional information and resources.

National Foundation For Credit Counseling

http://www.nfcc.org/

Current or former military veterans may have access to financial advisors at:

USAA Bank

https://www.usaa.com

(800) 771-9960

THRIFT SAVINGS PLAN (TSP)

During government furlough you may want to evaluate your individual TSP plan contributions. Employees who will have significant difficulty meeting all of their financial obligations due to reduced income may want to change or modify the amount they are putting into TSP and/or their specific allocations. A financial hardship withdrawal or a TSP loan may also be options (consider both the pros and the cons before doing either). Check your eligibility for on the TSP website (www.tsp.gov). Review the TSP Sequestration Guide for additional information.

Sequestration and your TSP account:

https://www.tsp.gov/PDF/formspubs/oc13-7.pdf

DEBT MANAGEMENT PLAN

If you're in debt, chances are you've already looked into ways to pay off your debts. You may have heard about "debt counseling" or "DMP" or "Debt Management Plan" or "debt consolidation" and wondered what's right for you. A Debt Management Plan (DMPs) is one option that helps by consolidating your debt (without taking out another loan). If a Debt Management Plan is right for you, the DMP company negotiates with your creditors to obtain lower payments (with reduced interest rates and/or late and over-limit fees waived). A monthly payment is established that fits your budget, and you make one payment directly to the DMP company, who then disburses individual payments to all your creditors. By setting a debt payment schedule, you'll know exactly how long it will take to be debt-free.

Benefits of a DMP are:

· Reduced monthly payments and interest rates
· Waived late and over-the-limit fees
· Reduced collection calls and letters
· The convenience of one monthly payment
· Re-aging your account to bring it current

As always, be an informed consumer. Ask questions to ensure that you are well-informed about both the pros and cons of a DMP before you sign any legally binding documents.

The InCharge Institute of America has a signed Memorandum of Understanding with the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Military Community and Family Policy), which establishes a partnership that allows military installations throughout the DoD to use the programs, services, and materials of the InCharge Institute. This is a part of the DoD campaign to improve the financial readiness of service members and their families. One of the services that InCharge offers is a debt management plan. InCharge can also provide financial counseling and additional information and/or resources on money matters.

InCharge Debt Solutions

http://www.incharge.org/

(800) 565-8953

Local food banks

The local food banks are willing to assist when necessary. Please contact them directly for assistance if needed. However, please be aware that your eligibility for services/food may be dependent on your income.

Catholic Community Services Food Bank

http://www.ccsutah.org/

2504 F Ave

Ogden, UT 84401

(801) 394-5944

Family Connection Center Food Bank

http://familyconnection4u.org/

875 E Hwy. 193

Layton, UT 84041

(801) 771-4642

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

If approved, the Federal Employee Education & Assistance Fund provides interest free loans of up to $1,000 to assist with individual emergency situations. Federal employees, who have been employed by the federal government for at least one year are eligible to apply for emergency financial assistance through this organization. Assistance is generally provided for the following types of hardships:

· Death in the employee's immediate family
· Loss of income
· LWOP due to severe illness or family-member illness. Employee must be back at work.
· Family breakup, separation, or divorce
· Critical illness in the employee's immediate family
· Major loss of property due to natural disaster such as: fire, flood, hurricane
· Government pay error in cases where the pay shortage was caused by governmental error (e.g., an administrative or disbursing mistake, computer problem, or check lost in the mail)

Loan checks are made payable to the specific creditor(s) the employee is behind in paying. Loans are repaid through payroll allotment administered by the employee's payroll service, e.g. Employee Express, My Pay, NFC or Postal Ease and are generally repaid within a year. Applications can be printed from online and must be faxed with all supporting documentation for review.

Read the entire application and include all supporting documentation when submitting your request.

Federal Employee Education & Assistance Fund

http://www.feaa.org

3333 S. Wadsworth Blvd., Suite 300

Lakewood, CO 80227

(303) 933-7580

Retired service members and active duty members whose spouses have been furloughed are eligible to apply for assistance through the Air Force Aid Society. The Air Force Aid Society stands ready to assist eligible individuals affected by the anticipated furloughs. Air Force Aid assistance DOES NOT replace lost income, nor is help given on an ongoing basis. Each request is looked at based on the personal situation of the individual or family. If eligible, contact the A&FRC for information on how to apply for financial assistance through Air Force Aid.

Airman & Family Readiness Center

5837 D Ave., Bldg. 150

HILL AFB, UT 84056

(801) 777-4681

FINANCIAL SUGGESTIONS

· Take an honest look at your finances and prioritize your needs and wants.
· Start saving NOW
· Track your monthly and daily spending
· Elect automatic payment plans for mandatory expenses to help alleviate stress
· Be a well informed shopper
· Take advantage of sales and coupons
· Pay your bills on time to reduce the risk of penalties and fees and contact lender if required. (Often fees can be waived)
· Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it!