Although it seems a government shutdown is an annual threat, an actual shutdown is rare. Like the villagers with the boy who cried "wolf!" it's easy to ignore the threats and then be taken by surprise when the whole thing actually happens.
That's why a little hindsight for dealing with something like this can go a long way. Since we know a government shutdown will be threatened again -- maybe even as soon as next month -- here are a few things we can learn from this go-round and remember for next time.
Have a contingency plan. Financial advisors will tell you all the important reasons to have some money set aside for emergencies. Unless they are familiar with the military, they are unlikely to include "government shutdown" in the list of reasons. The threat of no military pay is enough to get anyone thinking about why having a little cash set aside to buy groceries if the money doesn't show-up.
That's why you should start saving today. Yes, today. Skip eating out once, clip a few coupons, switch to a few off brands or cut down on the coffee. There's absolutely something you can do to find an extra $10 or $20. Set that money aside in an emergency fund so you will know where rent, groceries or the electric bill will come from in the case of an emergency. Here are some more savings tips.
Know your resources. Financial emergencies happen to the best of us. Fortunately, there are a variety of resources designed specifically for military families. Learn what they are, so that you know where to find them when you need them.
Learn how your bank handles a government shutdown. For the last several serious shutdown threats or actual closures, financial institutions like Navy Federal Credit Union, USAA and Chase offered either payroll advances or eliminated overdraft fees for those whose paychecks were missed thanks to funding nonsense. Next time a shutdown is threatened you can find some comfort in what these people have done in the past. If a shutdown is a serious worry for you, you could even consider switching some of your banking to one of these places so that you're covered.
Know what a government shutdown means for the Pentagon. While plans vary shutdown to shutdown, what was true in 2013 was largely true for 2018. Learn what a government shutdown means for military families and Defense Department services, and next time you can know what to expect.