How to Survive a Work Furlough

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — More than 800,000 U.S. government workers got a pink sip, of sorts, last week, as Uncle Sam Inc. closed its doors until Congress and the White House work out a deal on the federal debt ceiling.

What's a furloughed worker to do?

Steve Siebold, the author of How Rich People Think, has a few financial pointers for furloughed federal employees, who have not experienced a full-blown government shutdown and its after effects since 1995.

The key for cash-strapped federal employees is to be able to access cash quickly and cover any gaps in household income — especially if a rainy-day fund isn't available.

Here are some other tips from Siebold:

Talk it out. Siebold advises being upfront with your friends and family to let everyone know these are going to be lean times if the furlough goes on indefinitely. "Let them know you'll be focused on the true necessities in life rather than the luxuries," he advises. "It's nothing to be embarrassed about, because this wasn't your fault."

Make a list. Separate your "needs" versus your "wants." Shelve the latter altogether. "In the list of necessities, prioritize from most important to least important and figure out what must be paid immediately and what can lag a bit," he says. "This will help figure out exactly how much money you need right away and for the near future."

Be honest about debt. Make sure to contact your creditors, such as your mortgage company, credit card company and other firms, and let them know what's going on. Creditors are much more amenable to helping you out if you get ahead of the problem and keep them apprised. "Because this is a crisis situation that isn't your fault, many creditors may work with you or offer some kind of assistance, such as postponing your due date," Siebold says. "Check with your mortgage lender, utility company, credit card companies, etc. Don't be afraid to ask if there is any kind of discounted rate for furloughed government workers."