When Your Income Suddenly Goes Away

by Katy on October 1, 2013 · 25 comments

Because I’ve been in my job as a labor and delivery nurse for over 18-1/2 years, I’m guilty of taking my employment for granted. However, my unit recently restructured, which has affected how much I’m able to work. I won’t go into detail, but suffice it to say that my paychecks have gone from more than enough to not quite enough. I do not expect this to be a long term issue, so I’ll stay where I am.

After all, I love my job and have successfully weathered a number of workplace changes throughout the years.

However, I am being even more careful with money than usual, (which is saying a lot) and have had to put certain savings plans on hold for the moment.

Luckily, I have multiple income streams. Blogging, cleaning my mother’s guest cottages and selling thrifted items through Craigslist and eBay add enough to our checking account to soften the blow.

It doesn’t make up for the lost income, but we will survive.

This is bad timing though, as the boys are in their sophomore and senior years of high school, and we’ve been putting every spare penny towards anticipated college expenses. And to have those “spare pennies” taken away gives me an uh-oh feeling.

But my family is not alone. Today the United States government shut down, and huge numbers of hard working Americans had their livelihood put in jeopardy. To be told to stay home without pay for no reason other than political gesturing is grossly offensive.

Already the Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook Group is fired up with dozens of members writing about they’re being affected by the government shutdown. (Luckily the Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook Group has a long term culture of respect, and it’s rare for members to be abusive or otherwise troll-like in their communications.)

“My husband is a federal employee and gets to work for free this morning to do the official shutdown. After that we will just be thankful we have kept our expenses to the minimum.”

“I am a federal employee and am out of work. ”

“I am a fed employee also and off work without pay”

“I’m a federal employee. The government adds insult to injury by not just laying you off, but by making you come in to work (this morning) to sign your official furlough notice. “

You get the gist.

For all of you who are affected by today’s shutdown of the federal government, please know that your sacrifice is appreciated. For your thankless work, and for your troubles. No one’s livelihood should be held hostage by quarrelsome and small minded politicians.

Have you been affected by the government shutdown? Please share your stories in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

JaneUlness October 1, 2013 at 9:38 am

My whole career was like that. I tried to work part time when the kids were in school so that I could be home when they came home from school. After my youngest was working after school himself, I started full time. Par time jobs for small companies are not always stable. My husband had three jobs because of companies going under or contracts being lost. One time we were both out of work at the same time! We survived it all with your use it up wear it out strategies. ( depression years strategies as well). One time, someone asked me why I fed us on 50.00 a week. I said because we took cuts in pay to get new jobs and the mortgage company has NO sense of humor! LOL. I learned a lot! My mother always said, adversity makes you stronger. She just didn’t tell me how strong I was supposed to be! LOL


Katy October 1, 2013 at 9:40 am

It sounds like you’re a real survivor. I think you could teach me a thing or two.



FishyGirl October 1, 2013 at 10:32 am

My husband is one of the tens of thousands of government contractors here in DC. The “fun” thing about contractors is that each individual company decides how to handle their people. Some furlough without pay, some furlough with pay, some are large enough and can have their employees work on something else in the interim, some end up laying people off because they can’t stay in business. And as rough as the Feds have it, Congress can choose to pay them retroactively later, but that isn’t an option for the contractors that support them. And it ends up having a ripple effect on all of the people whose businesses support those Feds and contractors – restaurants, transportation services, gas stations, dry cleaners. They lose a tremendous amount of money. We’ll be okay for a little while – two days, two weeks, but if it stretches out into months, we’ll be hurting. Right now my husband is furloughed without pay, as his contract site is within a federal building, which is closed.


Marie October 1, 2013 at 11:32 am

I have mixed feelings on the government shut down. I realize that people will be hurt, wow will they ever!

I had to go w/o a paycheck for 6 weeks once and it really hurt. I used depression era tactics: raided the sofa (found $5 in change which went into the gas tank), lived off my cupboards, and did not drink pop, eat candy, etc for the duration.

On the other hand, our nation is spending way too much money.

There has got to be a better way to cut back, keep people employed, and not have these dramas going on in DC.

I know…Katy for President. We need your frugality!


Joanna October 1, 2013 at 11:45 am

*sigh* Prayers, thoughts, and good vibes to all those affected by the shutdown.


Magie October 1, 2013 at 12:13 pm

We got really lucky and are getting paid because of the bill that was signed ensuring military paychecks. However, we were gnawing our nails last night before the bill went through. If that hadn’t been signed, I would have to do extra duty on Craigslist to pay for food. We use cloth diapers and drive a super duper efficient car, so we’re cutting back as much as we can already! I’m planning on trying to find more ways to cut back today just in case.


JaneUlness October 1, 2013 at 12:23 pm

My blog may help you. I don’t get paid for it, I’m just trying to help people.,


JaneUlness October 1, 2013 at 12:24 pm

My blog may help you. I don’t get paid for it, I’m just trying to help people. Ben there,, done that, and trying to help people make it easier than I did.


Kayla Revae Pins October 1, 2013 at 12:16 pm

It’s really small potatoes compared to losing a job, but my students lost projects they had been working on for some while. Over their Nutrition unit they had been entering their food information into USDA’s SuperTracker. They went to print their full reports to find the site shut down. Lots of valuable class time wasted.


Suzanne P. October 1, 2013 at 12:53 pm

My husband is a hotshot for the forest service. He was supposed to work this week but today was told to go home. I resigned from my teaching job this year because we had a baby in February. We could have used the extra money from this week for the future. It makes me nervous.


Suzanne P. October 1, 2013 at 2:39 pm

My husband was told to go home today. He’s a wildland firefighter and he was going to work another week. I’m not sure if we’ll have enough money to get us through ’till the next fire season. It makes me nervous.


chris October 1, 2013 at 3:44 pm

i hope that every single person, particularly those who are being affected by this disgusting show of oneupsmanship, remember this when election time rolls around – how is it that hard working people don’t get paid but politicians do? i worked in local government for years and can tell you from personal experience, no matter how inept or ineffective politicians can be, their constituents, more often than not, always think it’s the other guy and continue to elect these morons into office


Susan October 1, 2013 at 5:58 pm

Umm, are you saying that all politicians are ineffective and moronic? Honestly, I don’t really understand it and politics just means “popularity contest” to me. It really urks me that they are still getting their paychecks. Wouldn’t things go a lot faster if their wages were withheld until they fixed EVERYTHING?!


Elaine in Ark October 3, 2013 at 7:26 am

I used to know nuns who could make that happen. Picture this: All of congress present and accounted for; 3 potty breaks a day; water & coffee to drink; one 30-minute lunch break; no phones, laptops or i-anythings to distract them; everyone stays until the problems are solved. Also – no pay until the problems are solved. Anyone who doesn’t cooperate with others forfeits a weeks pay. No filibustering allowed, no name calling, no interrupting.

Work for the good of America!


Elaine in Ark October 3, 2013 at 7:28 am

These were actually pretty much the rules in Catholic grade school in the old days. Except for the money part – no one had much of that anyway.


Michaela October 1, 2013 at 4:09 pm

My best wishes to everyone out there affected by our governments inability to govern. I have been self employed for 15 years and my last month has been a slow one. I have been there done that and I try not to freak out much about it anymore. I just concentrate on what I need to do and haven’t had time to do while I was working. It’s not fun but when life gives you lemons you either make lemonade or throw them at the heads of politicians . Your call 🙂


Nancy (in Portland) October 1, 2013 at 4:14 pm

I do have sympathy for the government employees that are not working right now, but they will be back to work soon. My situation is that I have been on disability for over 30 years and during that time I have learned to live very frugally. I only buy clothes at goodwill (Clackamas is still the best Katy, even tho they have moved…) I always read ciculars for food bargains, I do not own a car and use public transportation for $2 a day. I have been homeless in the past for over two years, so I know what that is like too. I learned many things during that time, but most important, I realized what was most crucial. I am able to keep a roof over my head now, I have plenty of food, clothing for the year round and am able to take care of myself. I only suffer in one way. I have lost all my teeth due to medications and health problems over the years and it affects my daily life. I hide from the world because of the assumptions of people who think I used drugs in the past. You know, tooth loss is a problem many people face and cannot do anything about it and its a sad thing to see others suffer as I do. And even when the government gets back to work there will still be many people who suffer in silence.
I have to laugh at people who say they will do without candy and soda pop because of budget problems…don’t they realize what is more important, having teeth in the future or a treat now?
The goverment shut down is just temporary and these people need to get a handle on what is most important in their lives, rather than worrying if they have the best car, house or the ability to buy candy and soda pop. Just my humble opinion…


dusty October 2, 2013 at 2:18 am

I’m not sure this would work in your case or not, but if there is a dental school near you, they might be able to help. Also, how about your local health dept? Maybe they could find a dentist who would fit you for dentures? It sounds like you have had a rough time, and you know what a real shutdown is and just trying to survive day to day. I’ll keep you in my prayers.


Marie October 2, 2013 at 5:28 am

Nancy, I am so happy for you that your life has been blessed lately after what seemed like a horrible time in your life.
I rarely buy candy, pop, etc. even now. I meant that as an example only. Actually, looking back at that time in my life, I was fresh out of college, had loans to pay off, and barely could feed myself.
Frugality was my only weapon, and I was blessed with family and friends who lent me clothes and fed me. My car was old and the $5 did not last long.
I do not know what families will do w/o paychecks, and I pray that things will be resolved soon.


JaneUlness October 1, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Michaela, I love your optimism and sense of humor.


sheri October 1, 2013 at 6:44 pm

I’m amazed at the power our country gives our politicians. Their egos are too big …they need to be humbled and remember they were elected to serve our country. I feel bad for the people affected by the shut down. The nation is on your side. I think you should be compensated with back pay for loss wages for the poor choices made by our elected officials.


Shelley October 2, 2013 at 12:00 am

I’m retired and live in the UK and I feel affected by this shutdown. My income is from rental property (my house and my parents’ house) in the US and with the value of the USD dropping as the result of this shutdown, my income has effectively dropped.

Also, I feel it is an embarrassment to Americans that the government system we were all raised to be so proud of, the democracy we hold up to the world to be a shining example, doesn’t always work any more. It makes me very sad to see politicians behave so badly.


Diane October 2, 2013 at 5:26 am

My life is not affected by the government shut down, but my life was shut down because of a natural disaster in 2005. Everything here one day and gone the next, including my teaching job of 21 years! I really have never recovered financially, but have survived by living minimally and enjoying life within my meager existence.

It’s rough beyond words when your life changes in the blink of an eye and my heart goes out to all affected by this current crisis.


Kay Clifton October 3, 2013 at 3:38 am

I feel for the inconvenience the shutdown has caused employees. However, our legislators should have solved this problem before it happened. We are continuing to spend too much money and the employees are now going to suffer for it. Most probably, the government will open again and pay everyone for the time off. Hope everyone makes out fine in the end.


Sara E October 7, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Katy, can you pick up any extra job outside of nursing that would put your years of experience to work like teaching ladies on what to expect during labor? (Not that you are steller in all you do: cleaning, blogging, feeding your home crew, etc.) 🙂


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