CCCS Offers Survival Plan For Maintaining Financial Stability During Sequestration

Sequestration  is  now  in  place,  and

 along  with  it  came  a  good  amount  of  uncertainty,  causing  many  Americans

 to  wonder  how  they  will  be

 impacted.   By  some  estimates,  more  than  one  million  employees  of

 federal  agencies  may  receive  furlough  notices.   Locally,  3500  civilian  employees  of  the  Tobyhanna  Army

 Depot  started  an  11-day  non-consecutive  furlough  that  will  last  through

 September.   And  that’s  just  from  one  major  employer  in  the  area  feeling

 the  impact  of  sequestration.

Some  workers  are  not  adequately  prepared  to  deal  with  a  loss  of  income,  even  a  short-term  one.   For  those  living

 from  paycheck  to  paycheck  or

 without  significant  savings,  any  income  interruption  is  likely  to  put  them  over  the  financial  edge.   

For  example,  consider  the  statistics  below  from  the  National  Foundation  for

 Credit  Counseling  (NFCC),   Financial  Literacy  Survey:

Thirty-three  percent  of  respondents  admit  to  not  paying  all  bills  on  time;

Thirty-nine  percent  have  zero  non-retirement  savings;

Thirty-nine  percent  carry  debt  over  from  month  to  month,  and

Sixteen  percent  have  utilized  overdraft  protection  in  the  last  12  months.

 “Even  if  a  person  does  not  anticipate  being  impacted  by  sequestration,  now  is

 a  good  time  for  a  comprehensive  financial  review,”  said  Terri  Stocki,  spokesperson

 for  CCCS.   “Whether  due

 to  an  unplanned  expense  or  a  job  loss,  no  one  has  ever  regretted  being  financially

 prepared,  and  preparation  starts  with  understanding  where  you  stand  today.”

CCCS  advises  consumers  to  take  the  following  steps  to  put  themselves  in

 a  better  financial  position,  regardless  of  what  the  coming  months

 may  hold:

Assess current financial

situation The  NFCC’s  free  financial  self-assessment  tool,  MyMoneyCheckUp

™,  is  a  good  place  to  start.   The  tool  provides  consumers

 with  a  means  of  evaluating  four  key  areas  of  personal  finance:  budgeting

 and  credit  management,  saving  and  investing,  planning  for

 retirement,  and  home  equity.   After  answering  a  series  of  topic  specific

 questions,  a  personalized  assessment  of  the  individual’s  overall  financial

 health  and  associated  behaviors  is  generated.  With  areas  of

 concern  identified,  the  analysis  suggests  changes  that  consumers  are

 encouraged  to  implement  in  order  to  become  more  financially   independent.

 The  traditional  green,  yellow  and  red  traffic  light  colors  signal

 whether  the  consumer  should  continue  on  their  current  money  path,

 proceed  with  caution,  or  stop  and  make  a  change.  Individuals  can  also  complete  an  optional  budget  to  further

 help  them  assess  their  financial  health.   The  tool  is  available  in  English

 at  www.MyMoneyCheckUp.org and  in  Spanish  at  https://www.miayudafinanciera.org.

Face the financial facts  After  completing  the  financial  discovery  step,

 consumers  may  find  the  results  surprising.   Don’t  ignore  them.

  Financial  problems  rarely  resolve  themselves,  particularly  in  emergency

 situations.   Take  action  sooner  rather  than  later,  as  delaying  only

 makes  the  problem  harder  to  resolve.  

Take control Admittedly,  some  things  are  beyond  a  person’s  financial  control,

 but  some  aren’t.   Control  what  you  can  by  doing  the  following:

Review  your  credit  report  and  score,  both  necessary  to  fully  understand

 the  current  financial  situation,  and  provide  a  framework  for

 next  steps.

Create  a  cash-flow  calendar  listing  all  sources  of  income.   Next,  plug  in  the  dates  all  bills  are  due.   This  will  ensure

 that  bills  are  paid  on  time  and  protect  the  credit  report  and  score  from

 future  damage. Commit  to  paying  down  debt,  and  if

 necessary,  suspend  all  charging,  consistently  moving  toward  solid  financial

 ground.

Reach  out  to  a  legitimate  credit  counseling

 agency  for  help  creating  a  survival  plan.

 “If  there  is  a  quick  resolution  to  the  sequestration,  nothing  has  been  lost  by  implementing  the  above  steps,”

 continued  Stocki.   “If  not,  consumers  will  be  better  prepared  to

 face  whatever  comes  their  way  financially.”

To  locate  the  CCCS  Agency  closest  to  you,  dial  (800)  922-9537,  or  go  online

 to  www.cccsnepa.org.  For  help

 in  Spanish  call  (800)  682-9832.