What federal workers can do to generate some cash amid the shutdown


Be wary of taking money from these sources:

Your retirement plan: Government workers who participate in the Thrift Savings Plan and are furloughed may take loans from their retirement savings if the furlough is expected to last 30 days or less.

You may not take the loan if your leave goes beyond that period.

Just because you can borrow from your savings, doesn’t mean you should. Once you pull money from your retirement plan, those dollars are no longer at work in the market.

Also, you’ll need to repay the money. Failure to make the appropriate repayments could result in your loan being declared a taxable distribution.

Credit cards and cash advances: Credit cards could save you in a pinch, but interest rates now exceed 17 percent. Cash advances on a credit card often come with extra charges, typically between 1 percent and 5 percent, according to MagnifyMoney.

Margin loans: If you own a brokerage account, you may be able to borrow from it. But that could be a bad idea, especially amid the recent market volatility.

The problem is that your brokerage firm will require you to keep a minimum balance in your account when you borrow against your investments. If the market declines sharply, your account balance could fall below the required minimum.

In that case, your brokerage firm will make a margin call and you could have less than 24 hours to deposit cash into your account or else your firm will sell your assets.

“This would exacerbate your problem because you’d have to come up with the capital for the margin call,” said Beatty.



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