The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

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October 12, 2013

Shrunken paychecks turn up



Jennifer Noon didn't realize just how much she was feeling the weight of the shutdown. When Noon, the wife of a furloughed Social Security Administration worker, sat down to tap out an email on Day 10, the tears that welled up took her by surprise.

"The stress and anxiety is taking a toll, and I find myself crying randomly and wonder what tomorrow will bring," said Noon, a stay-at-home mother in the Baltimore suburbs. "We raided my husband's penny jar so that we could go out to breakfast the other day and just try and leave the stress behind for a few hours."

With husband Jay's pay cut in half Friday and potentially wiped out entirely for weeks to come, he figures they have six weeks of grocery money and nothing for bills. Noon said she shut down their automatic bill pay systems and has been calling creditors.

"Most have been very forgiving, which is good," she said. "Some are requiring us to come in and sign paperwork to show proof of federal employment."

Her boys are 4 and 6 years old. In search of cheap entertainment, the family went camping with some furloughed friends last weekend.

"The hardest thing so far was informing my youngest son's preschool that we cannot pay his tuition," Noon said. "But, thankfully, they are a wonderful group and have just asked us to continue to keep them informed and pay when we can."

Federal contract workers idled by the shutdown, on the other hand, know they are unlikely ever to see the pay they are missing during the furlough. Derek Hills, 39, works for a systems development contractor at the Department of Homeland Security. To fend off the empty paychecks while he's furloughed, he's burning through the vacation time he had been hoarding for a 40th-birthday trip to New Zealand.

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