iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
MyBankTracker

GET UPDATES FROM MyBankTracker
 

Will the Government Shutdown Affect My Personal Finances?

Posted: 10/02/2013 5:37 pm

On the first day of the open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as it is commonly called, instead of questions about health care, many Americans are asking how the government shutdown will impact their lives.

In the short-term, most people who are not furloughed government employees won't take a direct hit to their personal finances, but some effects of the shutdown could eventually prove costly or ruin plans.

If the shut down drags on and you're in the middle of a home sale or mortgage refinance transaction, you could find yourself among those with ruined plans. Federal loan processing will come to a halt as a result of the shutdown as well, so those in the process of buying a home with a federal loan or trying to refinance out of a Federal Housing Administration loan may face processing delays. FHA loans account for about half of all mortgages.

U.S. Department of Agriculture processing of loans will also be delayed until the government is funded. The USDA provides home loans to farmers and others who qualify, which may affect rural areas. This comes as news of home price increases in all states has been reported, but a strengthening market could be hindered by the shutdown. In addition to delays from FHA loans, furloughs at the Internal Revenue Service could eliminate access to records required for home sales transactions.

The IRS also will not have help lines available to answer questions about taxes during the shutdown. And while it may come as a relief to some, audits will cease during this time as well.

Military, disability, social security, and unemployment checks will continue to roll out, but if the shutdown becomes lengthy, the processing of these checks could be delayed. It is also unclear as to whether some government contract workers will get paid during the shutdown, or if they will receive back pay if they do not. Anyone whose paycheck is based on government contracts would be wise to be careful with money right now in the event the shutdown continues for a long time.

People waiting for a passport may have to wait longer if the shutdown lingers, and foreign travelers awaiting visas could face delays. According to New Jersey Representative Rush Holt, passport processing will cease during the shutdown. In 2011, in anticipation of a shutdown, the State Department said it would not accept new applications, but would continue to process those already filed -- although it isn't clear how passports would be handled this time around. Aside from affecting tourism and leisure travel, businesses could be hurt if meetings are canceled or it appears the U.S. isn't a good place to do business.

Tourism within the country will be affected, as national parks and museums close. On the day of its 123rd anniversary, Yosemite National Park is closed, along with all other national parks, and museums such as the Smithsonian. Imagine planning a vacation to see the Statue of Liberty, only to arrive and feel the shock and disappointment as the Griswolds did in National Lampoon's "Vacation," when they discovered Wally World was closed.

In addition, White House tours are canceled, Philadelphia's National Mall is closed, and the restaurants and shops surrounding them will also likely take a financial hit. Shops which are frequented by government employees may see business slump, so anyone dependent upon income sources could be affected.

The question of whether or not your personal finances will be hit by the shutdown depends on your unique circumstances and how long the shutdown lasts. Those in the process of mortgage transactions may be the largest group affected if the shutdown lasts for a substantial length of time. This would not only hit the pocketbooks of everyday Americans, but could put a drag on the economy as a whole. If it ends quickly, the effects might not be noticed much at all.

Shirley Pulawski is a journalist who frequently writes for MyBankTracker.

Like us on Facebook!

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama pauses while speaking in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, about the government shutdown. Congress plunged the nation into a partial government shutdown Tuesday as a protracted dispute over Obama's signature health care law reached a boiling point, forcing some 800,000 federal workers off the job. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

  • Senate Republicans

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (2ndR), speaks while flanked by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) (R), Sen. John Thune (R-SD) (2nd-L) and Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) (L) after the Senate Republican policy luncheon, on Capitol Hill, October 1, 2013 in Washington D.C. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

  • House Republicans

    House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., left, looks on as Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, pauses during a news conference on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013 in Washington. Congress was unable to reach a midnight deadline to keep the government funded, triggering the first government shutdown in more than 17 years. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

  • Capitol Protesters

    A protester covers his mouth with a dollar bill as he joins others in a demonstration in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on October 1, 2013 urging congress to pass the budget bill. (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Lincoln Memorial

    A US Park Police officer watches at left as a National Park Service employee posts a sign on a barricade closing access to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

  • Chuck Hagel

    U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel listens on speaker phone during a conversation with Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and other senior Defense Department officials about the U.S. government shutdown, at his hotel in Seoul, South Korea on Tuesday Oct. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)

  • American Cemetery

    A notice advising visitors that the American Cemetery is closed due to the partial shutdown of the U.S. federal government hangs from the gates of the cemetery in Suresnes, west of Paris, Tuesday Oct. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere)

  • President Barack Obama

    U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks about the launch of the Affordable Care Act's health insurance marketplaces and the first federal government shutdown in 17 years as he's joined by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (R) and Americans who will benefit from the Affordable Care Act in the Rose Garden of the White House October 1, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

  • National Parks

    Park Ranger Scott Rolfes locks a gate closing a road over the dam at Saylorville Lake, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, in Saylorville, Iowa. About 800,000 federal workers are being forced off the job in the first government shutdown in 17 years, suspending most nonessential federal programs and services. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

  • MLK Jr. Monument

    A U.S. Park Service worker hammers a iron stake into the ground to install a fence around the Martin Luther King Monument in Washington, D.C., October 1, 2013, as the first U.S. Federal government shutdown since 1995 begins. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Smithsonian Museums

    Fay Wagstaff, right, and her mother Fernanda Wagstaff of El Paso, Texas., sit outside the closed Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

  • Everglades National Park

    Park Ranger Christine MacKarvich mans the Shark Valley entrance booth in Everglades National Park, early Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013. She was told to report to work but had been warned that a call from the park service would shut the park down. The partial government shutdown that began Tuesday left many federal workers uncertain of their financial future, with many facing unpaid furloughs or delays in paychecks. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

  • Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas)

    U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) (R) talks to a military veteran at the World War II Memorial during a government shutdown October 1, 2013 in Washington, D.C. The memorial was temporary opened to veteran groups arrived on Honor Flights on a day trip to visit the nation's capital. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

  • Denis McDonough

    White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough listens to President Barack Obama deliver remarks about the launch of the Affordable Care Act's health insurance marketplaces and the first federal government shutdown in 17 years in the Rose Garden of the White House October 1, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

  • Liberty Bell

    Visitors to Independence National Historical Park are reflected in the window of the closed building housing the Liberty Bell, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

  • Statue Of Liberty

    A park ranger, who declined to give his name, reads a sign announcing the closing of the Statue of Liberty, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

  • Lincoln Memorial

    A U.S. Park Police officer ties police tape to a hand rail closing access to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

  • Statue Of Liberty

    A tour operator uses a megaphone to announce that the Statue of Liberty is closed due to a government shutdown, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013 in New York. The shutdown, the first since the winter of 1995-96, closed national parks across the nation. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

  • Castle Clinton

    A government employee steps out of an opening in a door at Castle Clinton National Monument in lower Manhattan, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

  • Statue Of Liberty

    People look at a sign for informing that the Statue of Liberty is closed due to the government shutdown in Battery Park on October 1, 2013 in New York City. Federal museums and parks across the nation are closed starting today due to a government shutdown for the first time in nearly two decades. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

    US Park Rangers place barricades in front of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC, October 1, 2013, as all National Parks closed due to a US government shutdown. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

  • National Gallery Of Art

    A group of art students take up the staircase of the National Art Gallery as it is closed due to Federal government shutdown in Washington, DC, on October 1, 2013. (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Clinton Presidential Library

    Visitors walk from the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Ark., after being informed that the building is closed Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013 because of the government shutdown. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

  • Ebenezer Baptist Church

    A man walks past a sign on the doors of historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta notifying visitors that the church is closed because of the government shutdown, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

  • World War II Memorial

    A US military war veteran visits the World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC, on October 1, 2013. The US Park Service opened the area to the veterans who are brought to Washington to visit and reflect at their memorials. (KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

  • World War II Memorial

    U.S. military war veteran takes photos at the World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on October 1, 2013. The U.S. Park Service opened the area to the veterans who are brought to Washington to visit and reflect at their memorials. (KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.)

    US Rep. Michelle Bachmann (L),R-MN, greets a US military war veteran as he arrives to visit the World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC, on October 1, 2013. The US Park Service opened the area to the veterans who are brought to Washington to visit and reflect at their memorials. (KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

  • World War II Memorial

    A closure sign is seen as US military war veterans visit the World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC, on October 1, 2013. The US Park Service opened the area to the veterans who are brought to Washington to visit and reflect at their memorials. (KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Republicans Address The Media

    WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 01: U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) (L), U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) (C) and U.S. Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) (R) speak to the media during a news conference on Capitol Hill, October 1, 2013 in Washington D.C. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

    U.S. Park Police Officers yell at a biker while closing the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall October 1, 2013 in Washington, D.C. The U.S. government is in a forced shutdown after lawmakers failed to pass a spending bill last night. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Washington Monument

    A U.S. National Parks Service sign is seen on a fence near the Mall in Washington, D.C., on October 1, 2013. The U.S. government shut down Tuesday for the first time in 17 years after a gridlocked Congress failed to reach a federal budget deal amid bitter brinkmanship.(KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

  • World War II Memorial

    Temporary fencing around the World War II Memorial prevents people from entering the monument on the National Mall October 1, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

  • Lincoln Memorial

    A U.S. Park Police Officer stands in front of the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on October 1, 2013. The U.S. lurched into a dreaded government shutdown today for the first time in 17 years, after Congress failed to end a bitter budget row after hours of dizzying brinkmanship. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Jefferson Memorial

    A woman views the Jefferson Memorial from behind barricades in Washington, D.C., on October 1, 2013. (KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Z-Burger

    An employee at Z-Burger in Washington, DC, prepares food during the lunch hour rush October 1, 2013. The fast-food chain is promising free hamburgers to federal workers who find themselves furloughed after the US government shutsdown Tuesday, its founder and proprietor Peter Tabibian said. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

  • White House Visitor Center

    U.S. National Park Service employee Neil Hewett places a closure sign at the White House Visitor Center in Washington, D.C., on October 1, 2013. (KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

  • National Mall

    Tourists ride bicycles down the National Mall in Washington, D.C., October 1, 2013, as the first U.S. Federal government shutdown since 1995 begins. The U.S. Park Police have closed off the mall to vehicle and pedestrian traffic due to the U.S. Government partial shutdown. A spokesperson for the U.S. National Park Service said it is technically illegal to use the mall. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Johnson Space Center

    Cars pass by NASA's Johnson Space Center Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • World War II Memorial

    Korean War veteran Robert Olson, from Iowa, is pushed in his wheelchair by Zach Twedt, also from Iowa, around the National World War II Memorial in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

  • Lake Mead National Recreation Area

    Lake Mead National Recreation Area park maintenance worker Donna Curry locks up a restroom facility at a picnic area inside the park,Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, near Boulder City, Nev. A partial government shutdown, caused by a budget impasse in Congress, has forced the closure of public sites including the nation's national parks. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

  • Tidal Basin

    A barrier blocks the path along the Tidal Basin in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, that leads to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial which is closed. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

  • National Zoo

    National Zoological Park Police Officer Will Jones directs visitor Miguel Miranda and his family of Mexico at the entrance of the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, as the zoo is closed due to the government shutdown. Miranda was advised to turn around. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

  • U.S. Capitol

    The U.S. Capitol is seen behind an area closed for restoration sign on the National Mall in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

  • White House

    The White House is seen behind a stop sign in Washington, DC, on October 1, 2013. The U.S. government shut down Tuesday for the first time in 17 years after a gridlocked Congress failed to reach a federal budget deal amid bitter brinkmanship. (KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Washington Monument

    The Washington Monument is seen behind a chain fence in Washington, DC, on October 1, 2013. (AREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Capitol Hill

    A rickshaw (pedicab) puller, who's main business is to transport tourists from one attraction to another in the capital, takes a nap near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on October 1, 2013 during the first day of the federal government shutdown. (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

  • The Morning Papers

    A woman buys a copy of the New York Daily News, featuring Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner following, an U.S. government shutdown in New York, October 1, 2013. (EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Crissy Field

    A cyclist reads a sign announcing the closure of a Park Service facility at Crissy Field due to the partial government shutdown on October 1, 2013 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

  • Fort Point

    A visitor takes a picture of a sign announcing the closure of the Fort Point National Historic Site due to the partial government shutdown on October 1, 2013 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

  • Harry Reid

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., left, and Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa listens to remarks by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., as they celebrate the start of the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, during an event with other lawmakers and people whose lives have been impacted by lack of health insurance, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • Blue Ridge Parkway Folk Art Center

    Resa Mestel, of New York, reacts after finding the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville, N.C., closed due to the government shutdown Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

 

Follow MyBankTracker on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mybanktracker

FOLLOW BUSINESS