Post preparing for impact of furlough days
May 16, 2013
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Fort Jackson is working to prepare civilian employees for temporary pay reductions that will accompany furloughs.
The Department of Defense will furlough hundreds of thousands of employees for 11 days starting July 8, a situation created by automatic budget cuts that went into effect March 1. Although the details of those furloughs were not known until this week, Army Community Services scheduled a seminar earlier this week to coach employees on how to handle the loss of pay.
"The idea behind the event is to give tips and tools to prepare for the furlough," said Shawn Smith, financial counselor for ACS. "Basically, we're putting out ideas people can do to save money, pull in more income and reduce expenses. When the furlough comes and you find you're missing $200 to $300 a month, there are things you can do to get that money back."
The most common questions Smith said he has been asked is, "How much are we going to lose?" Employees can get a specific answer for how much the furloughs will cost them at http://fortjacksonmwr.com/acs_fin/.
"With the furlough calculator, they can see how much they're going to lose and prepare themselves financially for that loss," Smith said. "The calculator shows you exactly how much your take-home pay will be during furloughs. We're also urging people to talk to their families to prepare them as a whole, and let them know there are things they won't be able to do because of the money they'll be losing."
This week's event included advice on how to save on utility expenses, shopping bills and ways to bring in additional revenue during furloughs. Tuesday's event took place a few hours before Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced the final furlough schedule, but Smith said ACS planned to conduct additional seminars on post in the coming weeks.
"There will be more, once we get the official notification of the furlough," he said. "We only have two counselors, and the main focus is working with Soldiers on post right now. But we will do additional seminars."
Because of limited staffing, a private bank has offered to provide financial counseling to government and civilian employees from Fort Jackson, he said.
"Because we only have two counselors, we're turning to Wells Fargo, who will actually help civilian employees if they need to meet with a financial counselor," Smith said. "They'll provide one-on-one counseling sessions.