Local Coast Guard families call tip sheet “a joke,” for suggesting garage sales, babysitting and pet-sitting as ways to make money during government shutdown.
The laughter only lasted a moment for Ashley Totten when her husband suggested a garage sale to help with finances.
When he explained it was an idea the Coast Guard came up with, smiles turned to disbelief.
“I thought it was a joke,” she said.
There was no punchline as her husband continued to read from a five-page list of money-saving ideas now since deleted from the Coast Guard website. The title of which read, “Managing Your Finances During a Furlough.”
At the time of writing this article, you could Google search that title and find several Coast Guard families irate over what many consider a lack of empathy.
Sure, there are a lot of money-pinching suggestions that could offer help, but scroll to “step four: supplement your income” and others say the ideas take a more condescending tone.
First of which is having a garage sale and selling your unwanted “larger ticket items through the newspaper or online.”
Other ideas include offering to watch children, walk pets, house-sit or even becoming a mystery shopper.
“So I guess I can tell them (kids) that they can sell their toys. I mean how do you tell an infant and two-year-old, we need to sell your toys because mom and dad need money,” said Totten.
The problem is not everyone has the time or even resources to take these options seriously.
In Ashley's case, she has an infant with heart issues she keeps close attention to. The first time we spoke was in late December, and since then Ashley's learned her dog has now developed a heart condition of his own. The cost of which is mounting on the family, simply trying to stay afloat.
With their delayed check from the Coast Guard, they just managed to take care of the mortgage. Other bills like credit cards and utilities may have to wait until the next paycheck, but getting it on time doesn't appear promising. In the meantime, Ashley is calling one company after another requesting an extension.
Hearing suggestions like turn “your hobby into income,” sound more like what to do for a summer job, than how to avoid a financial emergency.
“My hobby is watching HGTV, and I don’t think they pay for that because I’d have a serious income,” said Totten.
Thing is, the list may actually work for some families and there’s nothing wrong with that.
The first three “steps” may read more like a bank brochure on how to manage your first checking account, but it’s informative nonetheless.
Totten says she understands the gesture and is willing to give the Coast Guard the benefit of the doubt, saying “I know our leaders are trying to help any way they can because they’re in this situation too.”
USO Houston is hosting a donation drive Friday morning between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., with distribution to begin at 11:40 a.m.
Those interested in donating are urged to bring toiletries, diapers, baby wipes, baby food, canned gods and other meal items.
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