Borrowing Trouble: Planning for a government shutdown

I know it’s borrowing trouble and there’s no point in thinking about this, but being a little funny about  money I can’t help laying out some plans in the face of the possible shutdown of my employer, the Arizona state government. It will happen this week if our craven legislature can’t quit playing political games by tomorrow.

After going through the credit union accounts, I see I have a substantial amount of unused cash laying around, enough to stave off having to raid retirement savings for a little over five months.  Monthly savings, which doubles as an emergency fund and a source of cash for indulgences, currently has $10,578. Of that, $2,500 is set aside to cover COBRA between the Canning Date and my 65th birthday, when I’ll be eligible for Medicare, and another $1,200 is earmarked for my car’s 90,000 mile service, which needs to be done very soon.

There are cushions of $663 in the account that holds money budgeted for charge card expenses, $1,635 for regular monthly expenses (such as utilities), and $4,891 in the “pool” from which funds are drawn for the savings, charge card, and recurring expense piggybanks. All told, available savings plus the cushions come to $14,067. My regular expenses, especially at this time of year when utility bills are astronomical, run about $2471. Assuming I’ll have to go onto COBRA, adding another $170 a month to costs if Arizona employees can get the stimulus discount, that’s enough to sustain me for 5.32 months.

Problem is, this is all money I figured I would fall back on when the university cans me in December. Every extra dollar I have to use now is a dollar I won’t have when I’m permanently unemployed retired. Because I won’t have enough to make ends meet during the months when I’m not teaching part-time at the community college (that will be about four months out of every twelve), I will need that money to survive. The suffering may be deferred, but it will come.

Every unpaid day is $82.36 I’ll have to raid from savings to live on now instead of after I’m unemployed—assuming no major expenses arise. It’s $97.86 of take-home pay that disappears from my wallet.

(Kind of shocking to realize how little I earn, isn’t it?)

Clearly, even with my minimalist income I can get by for a few days. But they’re talking about closing down state government for as long as 30 days. If this absurdity continues for a week or more, my boat is going to start to take on water.

If our august leaders don’t get their act together by tomorrow afternoon, I’ll need to take the following steps:

Cancel all automatic transfers and electronic payments to creditors
Stop charging day-to-day expenses
Obtain enough cash to get by for a week or so, and pay expenses in cash only
Pay off the amount I’ve charged on AMEX so far in this billing cycle

Two of these—canceling EFTs and withdrawing cash for living expenses—will need to be done quickly, because the credit union branches within driving distance occupy buildings on the university campuses. If the university closes its buildings, obviously the credit union will have to close those branches. From what I can gather, if the budget isn’t passed on Tuesday, most government entities will close on Thursday. So that gives one day to fly to the credit union, where the lines no doubt will go out the door.

How much longer, Lord, before we can vote these clowns out of office? Can an entire legislature be impeached?

Image: Staplegunther, Arizona State Flag
Public domain; Wikipedia Commons

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Revanche June 29, 2009 at 4:31 pm

Good gravy this is becoming quite the circus. I wonder if AZ and CA are going to wither up and blow away together? Please, oh please, just be sure to take our governing bodies with them! What’s the point of the Supreme Court ruling their actions unconstitutional if there’s no enforcement to do anything about it?

Sure puts paid to the back-up plan of drawing unemployment and sparing my e-fund while I find another job!

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